News release

Privacy Tools Available for Adoption Records

Adoption is a profoundly personal matter, and many Nova Scotians may feel strongly about the sharing of their information. The Province is introducing new privacy tools for adoption records to give people the option of protecting their information before adoption records are opened in the spring.

The Province’s Disclosure Program is now accepting disclosure vetoes and contact notices. A disclosure veto is a document stating an adoptee or birth parent does not wish to share information that can identify them. A contact notice allows people to share information that can identify them but allows them to set parameters around if or how they choose to be contacted.

“We know that opening adoption records is a long-awaited decision by many, and we also recognize that Nova Scotians may feel strongly about the sharing of their information,” said Karla MacFarlane, Minister of Community Services. “We want people to have time to consider their options and protect their privacy if they wish. This is a sensitive matter, and we want to be respectful of all those involved in sharing adoption records.”

The Adoption Records Act will take effect in the spring. It allows adopted people – once they turn 19 – birth parents, potential birth parents and relatives to access adoption information if they choose. This will apply to all adoption records. It is important to note that people who have indicated in the past that they do not want their identifying information shared must file a disclosure veto if they want their information to remain private.

This is a change from the current law which allows for a search for an adopted person or a birth parent at the request of the other party to the adoption. When that person is located, they must consent to their identifying information being released before it can be shared. If they do not consent, the identifying information cannot be shared.


“We are excited to see Nova Scotia taking the next stage in opening adoption records. We are very pleased to see steps being taken to ensure the privacy of those impacted. As adoptees ourselves, we understand the delicacy and importance of privacy being respected while we go through this process. We were adamant about a veto that gives those involved control over their information yet allows families who wish to reunite to do so."

Scott Pyke, Administrator, Nova Scotia Adoptee Advocacy Group

Quick Facts:

  • the Adoption Records Act was passed in April
  • adoptions have been recorded in Nova Scotia for more than 100 years; the Department of Community Services holds the records for about 31,800 adoptions granted during this time
  • over the last 11 years, an average of 150 children were adopted each year
  • the Department partnered with the Association of Black Social Workers this summer to engage with African Nova Scotian communities on implementing the change
  • the Department also consulted with Mi’kmaq bands and has worked with the Nova Scotia Adoptee Advocacy Group throughout the process

Additional Resources:

The Adoption Records Act:

More information on the changes to accessing adoption records is available at:

Adopted people, birth parents and others affected by the changes can get more information or file a disclosure veto or contact notice by contacting the Disclosure Program: 902-424-2755 / 1-833-424-2755 (toll-free) / / Disclosure Program, Halifax District Office – Child Welfare, 2131 Gottingen Street - 3rd Floor, Halifax, NS B3K 5Z7