Open Records


The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers believes that records pertaining to birth belong to the individuals involved: natural parents and people adopted. Open records means that records relating to the birth, registration of birth, and adoptive names should be available as a right to the individuals involved. Closed records means that records of births for people adopted and the adoptive identities of sons and daughters for natural parents are sealed and unavailable to the individuals involved, except through arbitrary and inconsistent differing provincial government procedures. Open records should be regarded as a means and a personal choice for people separated by adoption to validate the truth of past events and to seek each other out and heal the wounds of the past.

  • Access to identifying information should be available to people separated by adoption: mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, siblings, children of people adopted and all their descendants.
  • Adult people adopted should have access, upon request, to their original birth certificates and all identifying information about their natural parents.
  • Mothers should have access, upon request, to the original birth certificate and the adoptive name of their sons or daughters and the names of the adoptive parents at the time of adoption
  • Adoptive parents should have access to their minor children's identifying information
  • Intermediaries in jurisdictions with closed records have access to identifying personal information about the separated parties: mothers, fathers, and now-adult sons or daughters. The intermediaries are strangers to those parties and have no personal commitment to the parties nor immediate knowledge or lived experience for understanding the importance of that information to the people that this information affects most dramatically
  • Payment to intermediaries, who are strangers, in order to obtain personal information, is demeaning and oppressive to both mothers and people adopted when the majority of Canadian citizens have unfettered access to their same personal information as a right.
  • Closed records and disclosure through intermediaries demeans the mothers as adolescents and people adopted as children when they are clearly now adults. The mothers were considered "adult" at the time of signing the surrender documents although many were legal minors, therefore, they should be considered and treated as adults in the present. People adopted, who are adults, do not need government protective services required by children. Both are adults capable of conducting their own affairs with regard to identifying adoption information.
  • Open records for people adopted allow them to connect with their origins and helps facilitate their whole identities.
  • Open records for mothers will help many to heal and to process their frozen trauma, grief and loss created by closed records and adoption.
  • Open records restores the right of choice for people separated by adoption. The reunions of mothers and their adult sons and daughters can be successful when both parties have access to identifying information and are in control of the circumstances of search and reunion through real choice.

The CCNM does not support the information veto preserving the anonymity of either natural parents or people adopted. The availability of full identifying information as a right should not be abrogated in any manner.

The CCNM does not support the contact veto with fines and legal consequences should contact be made. Contact cannot be stopped outside the existing laws that apply to all members of society. The CCNM proposes a Contact Preference wherein each party may specify the terms of contact: immediate contact, contact after a waiting period, contact through an intermediary, or no contact. If a no contact preference is filed, then updated medical information must be made available to the applicant. It must be made clear that a contact preference is not used to deny contact but is as stated, a preference.

In all adoptions, the CCNM supports openness wherein people separated by adoption are not deprived of their rights to information about one another, have access to and contact with one another, and that natural parents have accountability from the adoption facilitators and the appropriate government bodies for the care and well-being of their children surrendered to adoption. People [as babies, as children and as youths] who are adopted, should have from the moment of separation from their natural families, the right to and advocacy when necessary for unfettered access to information about and contact with their natural families, their original birth certificates and the right to decide for themselves whether they want ongoing relationships with their natural families. The conditions of openness are only subject to change in individual cases where children are demonstrated to be at risk from one or both parents.


©The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers
August 2004

© The Canadian Council of Birthmothers


Canadian Council of Natural Mothers