Canada Independent Adoption Search (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Vital Statistics Records Part 2  by by Sharon L. Murphy. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Independent Adoption Search[edit | edit source]

The province your search takes place in will determine how much more work you will need to do yourself. What if you don’t live in British Columbia and can’t get the official documents you need to continue in your quest to locate the missing relative? Now what do you do?

The very first thing you should do is go through the proper channels and apply for the Adoption Order and the Non-Identifying information.

Get yourself registered with all possible independent disclosure registries (see list following). Be diligent in searching out as many as possible to increase your chances of success. Use the Internet not only to register yourself but also to review the postings already there. Set up a schedule that you can follow to keep track of what you have looked at and where you are listed.

If you do have some information you should review it carefully and have someone else read it over as well. It becomes easy to overlook some fact that we have seen over and over again and it may mean more to a fresh pair of eyes. If you have a location, start doing some research on the area. Find out what was happening then. Are there any local newspapers? What was the most popular paper at the time of the event of the birth? Is it still publishing? If not, where are the back copies? Have they been microfilmed? It won’t hurt to have this work already done when your non-identifying information arrives.

Have patience! The information will arrive when you least expect it. Carry on with your life in the meantime.

Once your non-identifying history arrives you can begin analyzing the information. The first few times you read over the information you will be too excited and may feel somewhat disappointed.

Make notes of the members of each household (usually gives the father’s family and the birth mother’s family). Have someone else go over your information and ask them to make notes as well. Then, compare what you have gleaned and start to note all the possible scenarios. If you have already done some research on your own, do any of the facts you have found fit this information? Remember, children are very often adopted back into the community that their parents were from. In some cases the jurisdiction was by county and each agency was responsible to place the children that were put up for adoption within their own area.

If your Adoption Order has arrived you will have a birth date and a name. Often the last name of the child would have been the mother’s maiden name. You can now go to those newspapers that were published at the time and see if there is any mention of an adoption or birth. In some local papers they used to publish all births from a list the hospital would release. These were not paid for birth announcements, just newsy items. Also, many people put adoption notices in paper to announce their new family member.

Is there any chance that the mother of the child was in high school at the time, or perhaps just finished? Check old school yearbooks looking for the last name shown on the order.

Was there a street directory for that year? Look up the last name and see where the family lived. If it is a small town, find out who would have been around at the time and see if they will give you some information to help with your family history.

If you do find a name that matches with a family that has a daughter around the right age you may be close. Can you find anything else to match up with the other family member, i.e. brothers or sisters in school or a particular occupation of the parents? Could the birth mother have married? Now you will have to follow her through directories or at least her family. You may have to start looking for a marriage announcement in the hope that she married not too far after the event. Then you will have a married name to follow along the years. This is all just one piece of the puzzle after another but it often works.

Another method of research is to place an ad in the newspaper yourself. Put the ad in on the birth date of the adoptee, and on Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. Mention the birth name and suggest a possible connection. Welcome any type of communication and explain your motives.

A letter to the Letters page of the newspaper is also worthwhile. Someone else may see it that knows something that may help. Appeal to whoever you can. As every piece of non-identifying information is different from the next it is difficult to give guidance for the many possible scenarios. Use your judgment and instincts.

If you become discouraged perhaps you should get some professional help. There are many agencies that will provide search services throughout the provinces. Consult with them for ideas or for their assistance.

Adoption Registries in Canada[edit | edit source]

Parent Finders of Canada[edit | edit source]

Independent or private registries allow the widest circulation of search information. Parent Finders is a volunteer, not-for-profit corporation founded in 1974. It exists to help adult adoptees search for their biological family members, to provide experienced intermediaries for first-time reunions, if wished, and to lobby for more access to records through changes in legislation. There are many branch and satellite groups across the country that are listed on their excellent website (some are given here below). They sponsor the voluntary Canadian Adoption Reunion Register (CARR) in which close to 60,000 people have registered. Approximately 18,000 reunions are on record, with an extremely high rate of satisfaction. The website always has very current news about all the provinces.

Parent Finders of Canada and Parent Finders of Ottawa
Box 21025, Ottawa South Postal Outlet
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5N1
Telephone: 613-730-8305

Adoption Council of Canada[edit | edit source]

Based in Ottawa, the Adoption Council of Canada (ACC) is the umbrella organization for adoption in Canada. It is a national, non-profit organization with goals to inform, educate and provide resources about adoption issues in Canada concerning both children in care waiting to be adopted and older adoptees, birth families and adoptive families.

Adoption Council of Canada
211 Bronson Avenue
Mailbox #231
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 6H5
Toll-free: 1-888-54-ADOPT (1-888-542-3678)

TRIAD (Truth in Adoption)[edit | edit source]

The society for Truth in Adoption was founded in Canada in 1982. Adoptees, the birth family, and the adoptive family are the three points of the triad. The organization also provides search assistance, counseling, regular meetings and a quarterly newsletter.

Triad Society for Truth in Adoption
Box 5922, Stn. B
Victoria, BC V8R 6S8
Phone: 250-474-2280

Other Agencies[edit | edit source]

Newfoundland Parent Finders
Box 287
Gander, Newfoundland A1V 1W6
Telephone: 709-256-3768

Newfoundland Adoption Support Group
P.O. Box 8896
Manuels, Newfoundland A1X 1C6
Phone: 709-834-1895

Parent Finders New Brunswick
Marie Crouse, President
935 Lansdowne Road
Mount Pleasant, New Brunswick E7L 4K7
Telephone: 506-375-6660

Mouvement Retrouvailles- Head-office
150, Grant - Bureau 201
Longueuil, Québec J4H 3H6
Phone: 450-646-1060

Parent Finders in Ontario
There are too many branches to list here. See the Ontario page on the Parent Finders website.

Parent Finders
Box 21025, Ottawa South P.O.
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5N1
Telephone: 613-730-8305

Parent Finders Inc.
Box 1008 Station F,
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2T7
Telephone: 416-465-8434

Manitoba LINKS Post-Legal Adoption Support Group
89 St. Michael Road
Winnipeg, Manitoba R2M 2K8
Telephone: 204-257-4742

Adoption Connection
P.O. Box 20062 (South)
Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6Y8

TRIAD Saskatoon
P.O. Box 1221
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 3N2
Telephone: 306-665-3109
Website: Family Helper  (see website for other offices)

Alberta Birthparents/Relative Group
2147 - 141st Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5Y 1C4
Telephone: 780-473-1912

United Native Nations
Ministry of Social Services
#230 - 1425 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, British Columbia V7T 1B9
Telephone: 604-926-9304

Adoptees and Kinfolk Seeking Relatives
2050 Québec Street
Penticton, British Columbia
Telephone: 606-493-4319

Full Circle Birthparents Support Group
Nelson, British Columbia
Telephone: 604-352-6122


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Canadian Vital Statistics Records Part 2 offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.