Adoption Information Act

Link to law: http://nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/adoption.htm
Published: 2016-01-05

Adoption Information Act

CHAPTER 3 OF THE ACTS OF 1996

An Act to Provide for
Adoption Information

Short title
1 This Act may be cited as the Adoption Information Act. 1996, c. 3,s. 1.

Purpose of Act
2 The purpose of this Act is to

(a) establish the criteria by which

(i) persons who are adopted and of the age of majority mayhave access to information concerning their birth families,
(ii) birth parents and adoptive parents of adopted persons mayhave access to information concerning their children, and

(iii) relatives and other persons may, in special circumstances,have access to information concerning the birth family of adoptedpersons;

(b) establish controls for adoptive parents over access byadopted persons under the age of majority to informationconcerning their birth families;

(c) provide for the circumstances under which reunions ofpersons separated as a consequence of adoption will be facilitated;and

(d) establish an appeal procedure for applications made pursuantto this Act. 1996, c. 3, s. 2.

Interpretation
3 In this Act,

(a) "adopted person" means a person who was adopted pursuantto the Children and Family Services Act or any predecessor to thatAct and, unless otherwise specifically provided, has attained theage of majority;

(b) "adoption order" means a court order granting the adoptionof an adopted person;

(c) "adoptive name" means the name of an adopted personestablished or confirmed by the granting of an adoption order;

(d) "adoptive parent" means a person who has adopted a childpursuant to the Children and Family Services Act or anypredecessor to that Act;

(e) "Appeal Committee" means the Appeal Committeeestablished pursuant to this Act;

(f) "applicant" means a person who applies for informationpursuant to Section 13, 14, 15 or 16;

(g) "birth certificate" means a certificate issued by the Registrarof Vital Statistics based on information contained in an originalbirth registration;

(h) "birth father" means the biological father of an adoptedperson

(i) who is identified as such on the birth certificate of theadopted person,
(ii) whose paternity has been confirmed in court proceedingsrelating to an adopted person,

(iii) who has acknowledged his paternity in the record of anycourt proceedings, or

(iv) who otherwise proves, to the satisfaction of the Director,that he is the biological father of an adopted person;

(i) "birth mother" means the biological mother of an adoptedperson;

(j) "birth parent" means the birth mother or the birth father;

(k) "birth sibling" means a biological brother or biological sisterof an adopted person, of the whole-blood or half-blood, who is ofthe age of majority;

(l) "Chair" means the Chair of the Appeal Committee;

(m) "contact" means direct or indirect contact with a person,either face-to-face or by written communication, telephone, or anyother means whatsoever;

(n) "Director" means the Director of Child Welfare appointedunder the Children and Family Services Act or any persondesignated by the Director to act in the absence of, or on behalf of,the Director;

(o) "executor of the estate" includes a person charged by lawwith the administration of the estate;

(p) "family member" means the birth parent, the adopted personor the birth sibling in respect of whom an applicant has applied forinformation pursuant to Section 13, 14, 15 or 16;

(q) "identifying information" means any information thedisclosure of which, alone or in combination with otherinformation, in the opinion of the Director, would likely reveal theidentity of the person to whom it relates and, without restrictingthe generality of the foregoing, includes information with respectto that person's name, residence or occupation;

(r) "Minister" means the Minister of Community Services;

(s) "non-identifying information" means any information thedisclosure of which, alone or in combination with otherinformation, in the opinion of the Director, would not likely revealthe identity of the person to whom it relates;

(t) "Passive Adoption Register" means the Passive AdoptionRegister established pursuant to this Act;

(u) "Registrar of Vital Statistics" means the Registrar under theVital Statistics Act;

(v) "relative" means a person who is of the age of majority andis the husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, parent,grandparent, grandchild, uncle or aunt of another person, whetherthe relationship to the other person is by whole-blood, half-bloodor adoption, unless otherwise specifically provided. 1996, c. 3, s. 3.

APPLICATION AND ADMINISTRATION

Restriction on application
4 This Act applies only where the adoption order relating to anadopted person was granted in the Province. 1996, c. 3, s. 4.

Application of Act to certain information
5 Notwithstanding the Freedom of Information and Protection ofPrivacy Act, the use of, disclosure of and access to information andrecords regarding adoptions, regardless of where the information orrecords are located, is governed by this Act. 1996, c. 3, s. 5.

Supervision and management of Act
6 The Minister has the general supervision and management of thisAct and the regulations. 1996, c. 3, s. 6.

Director
7 (1) The Director has the powers and shall perform the dutiesconferred or imposed on the Director by this Act or by the Minister.

(2) Subject to the regulations, the Director may delegate to any personor class of persons any of the Director's powers, duties or functionspursuant to this Act or the regulations and shall, when so delegating,specify the powers, duties or functions to be exercised by the person orclass of persons to whom the Director delegates.

(3) The delegation of the powers, duties or functions of the Directorpursuant to subsection (2) shall be in writing and may include any termsor conditions the Director considers advisable. 1996, c. 3, s. 7.

Appointment of administrators and enforcers
8 There may be appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Actsuch persons as are necessary for the administration and enforcement ofthis Act and the regulations. 1996, c. 3, s. 8.

PASSIVE ADOPTION REGISTER

Purpose and confidentiality of Register
9 (1) The Director shall establish and maintain a Passive AdoptionRegister for the purpose of

(a) enabling disclosure of non-identifying information thatrelates to an adoption; and

(b) the facilitation of reunions between persons whose names areentered in the Passive Adoption Register and who have beenseparated as a consequence of an adoption,

in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

(2) The information in the Passive Adoption Register is confidentialand shall be available only as provided pursuant to this Act and theregulations. 1996, c. 3, s. 9.

Entry of information in Register
10 (1) Subject to the regulations, the Director shall enter in thePassive Adoption Register the name of

(a) an adopted person;

(b) an adopted person under the age of majority, with the writtenconsent of an adoptive parent of that person;

(c) a birth parent;

(d) an adoptive parent, with the written consent of the adoptedperson;

(e) a birth sibling, with the written consent of a birth parent;

(f) a relative of an adopted person, with the written consent ofthe adopted person; or

(g) a relative of a birth parent, with the written consent of thebirth parent,

who applies to be so registered.

(2) Where

(a) a person whose consent is required pursuant to subsection (1)is deceased;

(b) a person is required to apply with the consent of anotherpursuant to subsection (1), and that person provides evidence to theDirector that the person has conducted a reasonable search tolocate the person whose consent is required and has failed to locatethe person; or

(c) the regulations prescribe that the consent required pursuantto subsection (1) may be dispensed with,

the Director may dispense with such consent. 1996, c. 3, s. 10.

Application for information
11 (1) Any person whose name is entered in the Passive AdoptionRegister may apply to the Director to receive non-identifying informationrelating to the applicable adoption.

(2) The Director shall disclose to the person who makes an applicationpursuant to subsection (1) all non-identifying information in theDirector's possession that relates to the adoption, except information that,in the opinion of the Director, poses a risk to the health, safety or well-being of any person to whom the non-identifying information relates. 1996, c. 3, s. 11.

Powers and duties of Director on application
12 (1) The Director shall, upon receipt of an application by aperson whose name is entered in the Passive Adoption Register, facilitatea reunion between that person and others of the family whose names areregistered, except where, in the opinion of the Director, such a reunionposes a risk to the health, safety or well-being of any person to whom thereunion relates.

(2) Where a person whose name is entered in the Passive AdoptionRegister is deceased and another person whose name is entered in thePassive Adoption Register has applied to the Director requesting thefacilitation of a reunion, the Director may release identifying informationconcerning the deceased person to the person who has applied, exceptidentifying information that, in the opinion of the Director, poses a riskto the health, safety or well-being of any person to whom the identifyinginformation relates. 1996, c. 3, s. 12.

ACCESS TO AND DISCLOSURE OFIDENTIFYING INFORMATION

Application by adopted person
13 An adopted person may apply to the Director for disclosure of

(a) the adopted person's birth name;

(b) the name of the adopted person's birth mother;

(c) the name of the adopted person's birth father;

(d) where there are adopted birth siblings of an adopted person,the birth names of those persons;

(e) where there are adopted birth siblings of an adopted person,the adoptive names of those persons. 1996, c. 3, s. 13.

Application by birth parent
14 A birth parent may apply to the Director for disclosure of theadoptive name of an adopted person of whom the birth parent is a birthparent. 1996, c. 3, s. 14.

Application by birth sibling
15 (1) A birth sibling, with the written consent of a birth parent,may apply to the Director for disclosure of the adoptive name of anadopted person of whom the birth sibling is a birth sibling.

(2) Where

(a) the birth parent whose consent is required pursuant tosubsection (1) is deceased;

(b) the birth sibling provides evidence to the Director that thebirth sibling has conducted a reasonable search to locate the birthparent whose consent is required pursuant to subsection (1), andhas failed to locate the birth parent; or

(c) the regulations prescribe that the consent required pursuantto subsection (1) may be dispensed with,

the Director may dispense with such consent. 1996, c. 3, s. 15.

Application by relative
16 (1) Where an adopted person has died, a relative of the adoptedperson may apply to the Director for disclosure of

(a) the adopted person's birth name;

(b) the name of the adopted person's birth mother;

(c) the name of the adopted person's birth father;

(d) where there are adopted birth siblings of an adopted person,the birth names of those persons; or

(e) where there are adopted birth siblings of an adopted person,the adoptive names of those persons.

(2) Where a birth parent of an adopted person has died, a relative ofthe birth parent may apply to the Director for disclosure of the adoptivename of the adopted person whose birth parent is deceased.

(3) A relative who applies pursuant to subsection (1) or (2) shallsubmit, with the application, proof of death of the adopted person orbirth parent, as the case may be. 1996, c. 3, s. 16.

Proof of identity
17 A person who applies to the Director pursuant to Section 13, 14,15 or 16 shall supply any proof of identity required by the Director. 1996, c. 3, s. 17.

Condition for supply of information
18 The Director shall not supply to an applicant information regardinga family member that is requested by the applicant pursuant to Section13, 14, 15 or 16 without first complying with Section 19. 1996, c. 3, s. 18.

Duties and powers of Director on application
19 (1) Subject to the regulations, upon receiving an applicationpursuant to Section 13, 14, 15 or 16, the Director shall conduct a discreetinquiry to locate the family member regarding whom information is beingrequested.

(2) Upon receiving an application from an adopted person pursuant toSection 13, where the Director determines that the family member beingsought is a birth parent who has previously signed a no-contact requestpursuant to the Children and Family Services Act, the Director may,notwithstanding that a no-contact request has been signed, contact thebirth parent to confirm the birth parent's wish for no contact with theadopted person.

(3) Where the Director is successful in locating a family member as theresult of an inquiry conducted pursuant to subsection (1), the Directorshall, prior to releasing to the applicant the information concerning thefamily member requested pursuant to Section 13, 14, 15 or 16, as thecase may be, obtain the written consent of the family member to therelease of the information.

(4) Where a family member provides the written consent requiredpursuant to subsection (3), the Director shall release to the applicant theinformation requested, except information that, in the opinion of theDirector, poses a risk to the health, safety or well-being of any person towhom the information relates.

(5) Where a family member refuses to provide the written consentrequired pursuant to subsection (3), the Director shall

(a) advise the family member that the family member may filewith the Director a written statement including

(i) the family member's reasons for not wishing to discloseidentifying information,
(ii) where the family member is a birth parent, a brief summaryof any available information about the medical and social historyof the birth parents and their families, or

(iii) any other non-identifying information;

(b) advise the family member that, if a statement is filedpursuant to clause (a), the non-identifying information contained inthe statement will be given to the applicant; and

(c) give to the applicant the non-identifying informationcontained in the statement.

(6) Where the Director determines, as a result of an inquiry conductedpursuant to subsection (1), that the family member is deceased, theDirector may release identifying information to the applicant, exceptwhere the identifying information, in the opinion of the Director, posesa risk to the health, safety or well-being of any person to whom theidentifying information relates. 1996, c. 3, s. 19.

DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATIONIN OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES

Application by executor
20 (1) Where

(a) a birth parent, or any other birth relative of an adoptedperson, regardless of the age of the adopted person, has named theadopted person; or

(b) an adopted person has named a birth parent of the adoptedperson or any other birth relative of the adopted person,

as a beneficiary under the person's will, the executor of the estate mayapply, in writing, to the Director for assistance in locating the adoptedperson, birth parent or birth relative, as the case may be.

(2) Subject to the regulations, upon receiving an application pursuantto subsection (1), the Director shall conduct a discreet inquiry to locatethe adopted person, birth parent or birth relative, as the case may be.

(3) Where the Director conducts an inquiry pursuant to subsection (2)and is successful in locating the adopted person, the birth parent or thebirth relative, as the case may be, the Director shall not release anyidentifying information concerning the adopted person, the birth parentor the birth relative to the executor of the estate unless

(a) in the case of an adopted person, such person has givenwritten consent to the release of the information;

(b) in the case of an adopted person under the age of majority,the adoptive parents of the person have given written consent to therelease of the information; or

(c) in the case of a birth parent or birth relative, the birth parentor the birth relative, as the case may be, has given written consentto the release of the information.

(4) Where identifying information is released to the executor of theestate pursuant to subsection (3), the executor of the estate shall

(a) use such information only for the purpose for which it isintended; and

(b) not disclose the identifying information to any other personwithout the written consent of the adopted person, the adoptiveparents of an adopted person under the age of majority or the birthparent or birth relative, as the case may be. 1996, c. 3, s. 20.

Request by federal minister
21 (1) Where a written request is made to the Director by or onbehalf of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development forCanada, the Director shall forward to that Minister a certified copy of theadoption order regarding an adopted person together with such otheridentifying information or non-identifying information, contained in therecords of the Director, as may be necessary to establish entitlement ofthe adopted person to be recognized as an Indian within the meaning ofthe Indian Act (Canada).

(2) The Director shall only disclose information pursuant to subsection(1) where the Director is satisfied that the information

(a) will only be used by the Minister of Indian Affairs andNorthern Development for Canada for the purpose stated insubsection (1); and

(b) will not be disclosed by that Minister to the adopted person,the adoptive parents of the adopted person or to any other personwhatsoever. 1996, c. 3, s. 21.

Disclosure other than on application
22 (1) Where disclosure of information in the records of theDirector, including information obtained by the Director pursuant toSection 28, to

(a) a child-protection agency or child-placing agency, within themeaning of the Children and Family Services Act; or

(b) a comparable agency that is recognized in anotherjurisdiction,

is, in the opinion of the Director, necessary to protect a child from abuseor neglect, the Director may disclose the information to the agency.

(2) The Director may disclose information in the records of theDirector, including information obtained by the Director pursuant toSection 28, to a public body or law-enforcement agency in Canada toassist in an investigation

(a) undertaken with a view to a law-enforcement proceeding; or

(b) from which a law-enforcement proceeding is likely to result.

(3) An agency referred to in subsection (1) or a public body or law-enforcement agency referred to in subsection (2) shall not use or discloseinformation provided pursuant to subsection (1) or (2) except for thepurpose for which it is provided. 1996, c. 3, s. 22.

Compelling circumstances
23 (1) Notwithstanding any provision of this Act, in compellingcircumstances affecting the health, safety or well-being of an adoptedperson, an adopted person under the age of majority, a birth parent or abirth sibling, the Director may contact

(a) a birth parent;

(b) where the birth parent is not available, a relative of the birthparent;

(c) an adopted person;

(d) an adoptive parent,

to give to or obtain from that person any information affecting the health,safety or well-being of an adopted person, an adopted person under theage of majority, a birth parent or a birth sibling, as the case may be.

(2) Notwithstanding any provision of this Act, in compellingcircumstances affecting the health of a birth relative, where the Director

(a) conducts a discreet inquiry to locate an adopted person, abirth parent, a birth sibling or other birth relative; and

(b) is unsuccessful in locating the person,

the Director may release to the birth relative any information concerningthe person who cannot be located.

(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, in compellingcircumstances affecting the health of an adopted person under the age ofmajority, where the Director

(a) is requested by the adoptive parent to search for a birthrelative of the adopted person under the age of majority; and

(b) conducts a discreet inquiry to locate the birth relative and isunsuccessful,

the Director may release to the adoptive parent any informationconcerning the birth relative who cannot be located. 1996, c. 3, s. 23.

APPEALS

Right of appeal
24 Any person entitled to make an application pursuant to this Actmay appeal the Director's decision, action or failure to act, that relatesto the person's application. 1996, c. 3, s. 24.

Appeal Committee
25 (1) The Minister shall establish an Appeal Committee whosefunction is to hear appeals made pursuant to Section 24.

(2) The Appeal Committee is composed of

(a) the Chief Judge of the Family Court or a judge of the FamilyCourt designated by the Chief Judge; and

(b) two other persons appointed by the Minister.

(3) The member of the Appeal Committee pursuant to clause (2)(a) isthe Chair of the Appeal Committee.

(4) The persons appointed pursuant to clause 2(b) shall be appointedfor a term of not more than three years and may be re-appointed.

(5) The Chair of the Appeal Committee and one other member of theAppeal Committee constitute a quorum.

(6) Each member of the Appeal Committee shall be paid suchremuneration and reimbursed for such expenses as the Governor inCouncil determines. 1996, c. 3, s. 25.

Appeal procedure
26 (1) A request for an appeal pursuant to Section 24 shall

(a) be in writing;

(b) be filed with the Chair of the Appeal Committee; and

(c) identify and state the decision, action or failure to act beingappealed.

(2) Upon receipt of a request for an appeal, the Chair shall request thatthe Director submit to the Appeal Committee, and the Director shallsubmit, a statement setting out the reasons for the Director's decision inthe matter or the reason for the Director's action or failure to act.

(3) Upon receipt of a request from the Chair for correspondence andrecords relating to a matter to be heard by the Appeal Committee, theDirector shall make available to the Appeal Committee allcorrespondence and records relating to the matter.

(4) The proceedings of the Appeal Committee shall be informal innature and shall be held in private.

(5) The Appeal Committee may adopt rules of procedure for itsproceedings.

(6) The following persons are entitled to make representations to theAppeal Committee:

(a) the person who appeals pursuant to Section 24;

(b) the Director or representative of the Director; and

(c) such other persons as the Appeal Committee may authorize.

(7) The Appeal Committee shall consider an appeal pursuant to Section24 within ninety days of receiving the request for the appeal and shall,within thirty days of hearing the appeal, render a decision as to whetheror not the Director's decision, action or failure to act was made or done,as the case may be, in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

(8) Where the Appeal Committee finds that the Director's decision,action or failure to act was not made or done in accordance with this Actand the regulations, the Appeal Committee shall order the Director tocomply with this Act and the regulations and provide the Director withinstructions, in accordance with this Act and the regulations, regardingthe manner in which the Director shall comply.

(9) The decision of the Appeal Committee is final and binding on allthe parties.

(10) The person who appeals pursuant to Section 24 and the Directorshall be notified in writing of the Appeal Committee's decision and thereasons for its decision. 1996, c. 3, s. 26.

GENERAL

Agreements by Minister
27 The Minister may, for the purpose of obtaining informationnecessary to carry out the intent and purpose of this Act and theregulations, enter into agreements with

(a) the Government of Canada, the government of a province,the government of a foreign jurisdiction or an official or agency ofany of those governments; or

(b) a person or group of persons, whether incorporated or not. 1996, c. 3, s. 27.

Rights of Director to information
28 (1) Notwithstanding any other Act, the Director shall be given,upon written request, any information that

(a) is in the custody or control of a public body as defined in theFreedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; and

(b) is necessary to enable the Director to locate a person for thepurpose of this Act and the regulations.

(2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the Registrar ofVital Statistics, upon written request from the Director and payment ofany required fee, shall give to the Director any information in thecustody or control of the Registrar of Vital Statistics concerning the birth,adoption, marriage or death of a person. 1996, c. 3, s. 28.

Civil immunity
29 No action lies or shall be instituted against any person for anythingdone or omitted to be done, in good faith, in the exercise or performanceof, or intended exercise or performance of,

(a) a power, duty or function conferred by this Act or theregulations; or

(b) a power, duty or function on behalf of, or under thedirection of, a person on whom the power, duty or function isconferred by this Act or the regulations. 1996, c. 3, s. 29.

Form of application
30 (1) An application made to the Director pursuant to Sections 9to 19 shall be made in the form determined by the Director.

(2) The Director may prescribe

(a) additional circumstances in which forms are required; and

(b) the design and contents of the forms. 1996, c. 3, s. 30.

Duties of advisory committee
31 The advisory committee appointed by the Minister pursuant toSection 88 of the Children and Family Services Act shall, in addition tothe functions of the advisory committee specified in that Section, annuallyreview the provisions of this Act, the regulations and the services relatingto them and report annually to the Minister concerning the operation ofthe Act, regulations and services and whether the principles and purposeof this Act are being achieved. 1996, c. 3, s. 31.

Fees or charges
32 Except where the regulations otherwise require, the Director mayrequire fees or charges, in the amounts set out in the regulations, withrespect to applications, entering names in the Passive Adoption Register,the supply of documents or information, the provision of services to anyperson pursuant to this Act or the regulations or for other things donepursuant to this Act or the regulations. 1996, c. 3, s. 32.

Offences
33 (1) Every person who contravenes subsection 20(4) or 22(3) isguilty of an offence and is liable upon summary conviction to a fine notexceeding five thousand dollars or, in default thereof, to a term ofimprisonment not exceeding six months.

(2) Every person who contravenes subsection 35(4) is guilty of anoffence and is liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceeding tenthousand dollars, or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years,or to both.

(3) Every person who contravenes a provision of this Act or theregulations, other than as set forth in subsection (1) or (2), is guilty of anoffence and is liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceedingtwo thousand dollars or, in default thereof, to a term of imprisonment notexceeding six months. 1996, c. 3, s. 33.

Limitation period for prosecutions
34 A prosecution for an offence pursuant to this Act shall not becommenced more than two years after the date the offence wascommitted. 1996, c. 3, s. 34.

Jurisdiction and proceedings of Family Court
35 (1) The Family Court, including a judge thereof, has exclusiveoriginal jurisdiction over the prosecution of an offence against this Actor the regulations.

(2) Unless the Family Court, including a judge thereof, so ordersotherwise, a proceeding for an offence pursuant to this Act or theregulations shall be held in private.

(3) The court record relating to a proceeding for an offence pursuantto this Act or the regulations is confidential and the public shall not haveaccess to the court record without the consent of the Director.

(4) A person shall not make known to the public or a section of thepublic, by any means, the identity of a party to a proceeding for anoffence pursuant to this Act or the regulations, or information fromwhich the identity of such a party may readily be ascertained. 1996, c. 3,s. 35.

Regulations
36 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) concerning the conditions that must be satisfied by anadoptive person under the age of majority and an adoptive parentto establish eligibility to have the adoptive person's name enteredin the Passive Adoption Register;

(b) prescribing the circumstances under which consent to applyfor

(i) entry of a name in the Passive Adoption Register, or
(ii) disclosure of the adoptive name of an adopted person ofwhom a person is a birth sibling,

may be dispensed with by the Director;

(c) respecting the payment of fees or charges for applications,entering names in the Passive Adoption Register, the supply ofdocuments or information, the provision of services or for otherthings done pursuant to this Act or the regulations;

(d) respecting the circumstances under which the Director maywaive or reduce fees or charges otherwise payable pursuant to thisAct or the regulations;

(e) respecting the manner in which a discreet inquiry shall beconducted and the processes to be followed in undertaking adiscreet inquiry pursuant to this Act;

(f) respecting the qualifications of a person or class of personsto whom the Director delegates any of the Director's powers,duties or functions pursuant to this Act or the regulations;

(g) defining any word or expression used but not defined in thisAct;

(h) expanding the meaning of any word or expression used inthis Act;

(i) deemed necessary or advisable to carry out effectively theintent and purpose this Act.

(2) The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority containedin subsection (1) is regulations within the meaning of the RegulationsAct. 1996, c. 3, s. 36.

Children and Family Services Act amended
37 and 38 amendment of the Children and Family Services Act.

Effective date
39 This Act comes into force on January 1, 1997, or such earlier dayas the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation. 1996,c. 3, s. 39.

In force - January 1, 1997
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