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Nova Scotia 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 ($).

Nova Scotia’s Adoption Information Act created a service to help birth relatives locate each other. The Act created the Adoption Disclosure Services Program, a service for people separated by adoption. As of 12 January 1997 people placed for adoption, birth parents and birth siblings can all apply to the Adoption Disclosure Services Program to register their wish for contact or to have a search done. The agency anticipated that it would take about three years (from 1997) to clear the initial rush of applications. There is both a Passive and an Active Adoption Register.

Non-Identifying Information

The act also has provisions for the exchange of non-identifying information to the following: An adopted person 19 years of age or older; an adopted person under 19 with the written consent of the adoptive parents; a birth parent; a birth sibling or birth relative 19 years of age or older with written consent of the birth parent (some exceptions apply).

Identifying Information

The search service will attempt to locate the person, and ask them if they consent to the release of identifying information. If the person cannot be located, identifying information will not be released. There are fees associated with the search service that are around $250. The information contained in the adoption files will be used to locate people but unfortunately, some older files are not complete. To help facilitate these searches, the Disclosure Services Program has access to the Vital Statistics data base and other information banks.

How to begin?

The first step is to register with the Passive Adoption Register. This will provide you with the non-identifying information available and put you on the list to be checked for a match. If the person you are searching for is also on this list and you both want to make contact a social worker will set that up.

If there is no match found on the initial list then a search will be set up. Once the person is located they will be asked if they wish to make contact. If they object then the Identifying information will not be released.

Adoption Disclosure Service Program
Halifax District Office-Child Welfare
6009 Quinpool Road, 4th Floor
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 5J7
Telephone: 902-424-2755


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.