Ontario Fulfills Its Commitment To Deliver New Adoption Information Laws



    Legislation Balances The Right To Know With The Right To Protect Privacy

    TORONTO, Sept. 4 /CNW/ - Ontario is delivering a new, more open adoption
information disclosure system that will make it easier for adult adoptees and
birth parents to learn about their past, Minister of Community and Social
Services Madeleine Meilleur announced today.
    "This new information disclosure system makes it easier for adoptees and
birth parents to get the information they have been looking for, while also
protecting the privacy of those who do not wish to be contacted," said
Meilleur.  "We made a promise and today I am proud to say we are delivering on
that commitment."
    On September 17, 2007, the Ontario government will be implementing the
last phase of Bill 183, the Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005. At that
time, adult adoptees and birth parents, whose adoptions were finalized in
Ontario, will be able to apply for information in adoption orders and original
birth records.
    "We are excited to see Ontario take a leadership role by allowing
adoptees and birth parents to access their adoption records," said Professor
Michael Grand, a member of the coordinating committee of the Coalition for
Open Adoption Records (COAR). "The new legislation is based on the best
research and practices surrounding information exchange."

    Implementation of the new legislation builds on the privacy protections
that have been in place since January 31, 2007. Since that time, adult
adoptees and birth parents have been able to:

    
    -   Place a "no contact" notice on their file if they do not want to be
        contacted.
    -   Register a notice specifying a "contact preference" on how they
        prefer to be contacted.
    -   Apply to the Child and Family Services Review Board for an order to
        prevent disclosure of identifying information if there are concerns
        regarding sexual harm or significant physical/emotional harm.

    Adult adoptees have also been able to register a "waiver of protection"
that will allow the Ontario Registrar General to release information to a
birth parent even though the adopted person was a victim of abuse.
    "The new legislation will give adult adoptees and birth parents the
ability to find the information they have been looking for," said Karen Lynn,
president of the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers and a member of the COAR
coordinating committee. "It treats adult adoptees and birth parents with the
respect they deserve."

    This is just one more example of how, working together, Ontarians have
achieved results in strengthening Ontario by strengthening Ontario's families.
 Other results include:

    -   Launching a new public awareness website on accessibility called
        AccessON.ca, which challenges attitudes and encourages all Ontarians
        to learn about barriers to accessibility;
    -   Providing nearly $19 million for rent banks to assist vulnerable
        low-income tenants who are experiencing a short-term financial crisis
        so they can stay in their homes.
    -   Implementing a new Ontario Child Benefit to help nearly 1.3 million
        children in low-income families.

    "Finally, adult adoptees in Ontario will have the same opportunities as
everyone else," said Wendy Rowney, president of Adoption Search and Kinship
and a member of the COAR coordinating committee. "The opportunity to get their
original birth records and the opportunity to learn about their past."
    "We're moving Ontario's adoption information laws into the 21st century,"
said Meilleur. "Adoptees and birth parents will finally be able to learn more
about their past and their identity."

    Disponible en français

                         www.ontario.ca/adoptioninfo
                             www.mcss.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                ADOPTION INFORMATION DISCLOSURE THAT BALANCES
           THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION WITH THE PROTECTION OF PRIVACY

    The Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005, amends the Child and Family
Services Act and the Vital Statistics Act. The last phase of the legislation
will be implemented on September 17, 2007, and will balance the right of adult
adoptees and birth parents to know about their history and identity with the
protection of privacy.

    Right To Information

    -   Adoptees who are 18 years old or older will be able to obtain copies
        of their original birth registrations that will provide them with
        their original birth name and may identify birth parents.

    -   Adoptees who are 18 years old or older will be able to obtain copies
        of their adoption orders that may provide information on the adopted
        person's given name at birth, birth registration number and name of
        adoptive parents.

    -   Birth parents will be able to have access to information from their
        child's birth records and adoption orders if the adoptee is 19 years
        old or older. Information about the adoptive parents would be removed
        from the adoption records.

    -   Adult adoptees will be able to register a "waiver of protection" that
        will allow the government to release information to a birth parent
        even though the adopted person may have been a victim of abuse by the
        birth parent.

    Protecting Privacy

    -   Birth parents and adult adoptees can apply to the Child and Family
        Services Review Board (CFSRB) for an order to prohibit disclosure of
        identifying information in circumstances where there are concerns
        about preventing sexual harm or significant physical/emotional harm.

    -   Birth parents and adult adoptees can register a "no contact" notice
        with ServiceOntario. This means the birth parent or adoptee must
        agree, in writing, not to contact the person who registered the
        "no contact" notice, before he or she can receive information from
        the birth registration or adoption order. A person who violates a
        "no contact" notice may be fined up to $50,000.

    -   When an individual registers a "no contact" notice, it may include
        family and medical history and a brief statement concerning the
        person's reasons for not wishing to be contacted. That information
        will be passed on to the adoptee or birth parent if he or she applies
        to ServiceOntario.

    Starting September 17, 2007, adult adoptees and birth parents will be able
to apply for information contained in original birth registrations and
adoption orders. Adult adoptees and birth parents will still be able to
register a "no contact" notice, "contact preference" or "waiver of protection"
on their files.
    The government will also operate a voluntary Adoption Disclosure Register
(ADR). The ADR will allow adopted adults, birth parents, birth grandparents
and birth siblings over the age of 18 to place their names on a register to
obtain or exchange contact information.
    Privacy protections can be registered at any time. Starting September 17,
to apply for information or place your name on the ADR, please go to
www.serviceontario.ca or call 1-800-461-2156.

    For information on how to apply for an order to prohibit the disclosure of
identifying information contact:

                 The Child and Family Services Review Board
                 2 Bloor St. West, 24th Floor
                 Toronto, Ontario
                 M4W 3V5

                 Telephone: 416-327-4673
                 Toll-Free: 1-888-728-8823
                 Fax:  416-327-0558

    The government and children's aid societies will continue to provide
non-identifying information to adult adoptees and birth relatives. Birth
parents should be aware that non-identifying information about them may have
been, or may be, disclosed to the adoptee or adoptive parent. Adoptees should
be aware that non-identifying information about them may have been, or may be,
disclosed to birth relatives. This should be taken into consideration when
deciding whether or not to submit an application for an order to prohibit the
disclosure of identifying information and whether or not to register a "no
contact" notice with ServiceOntario.
    The legislation applies to all adoptions that are registered in Ontario.

    Media Contacts:
    John Letherby
    Communications and Marketing Branch
    416-325-5187

    Members of the general public may call: 416-325-5666 or toll free at
1-888-789-4199.

    Disponible en français

                         www.ontario.ca/adoptioninfo

                             www.mcss.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Jeff O'Grady, Minister's Office, (416)
325-5211; John Letherby, Ministry of Community and Social Services, (416)
325-5187; Public Inquiries, (416) 325-5666, Toll Free: 1-888-789-4199

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Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services

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