Ontario Moves Forward To Open Adoption Records



    New Legislation Would Provide Greater Openness In The Future, Protect
    Privacy For Past Adoptions

    TORONTO, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - The Ontario government has introduced new
legislation that will, if passed, help enshrine openness in future adoption
records while providing a disclosure veto for people involved with past
adoptions, Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur
announced today.
    "We strongly believe that people should be able to learn about their own
personal history," said Meilleur. "The legislation, if passed, will make open
adoption records a cornerstone of Ontario's adoption laws. At the same time,
it would safeguard the privacy of those involved in past adoptions."
    The new legislation would, if passed, allow adult adoptees and birth
parents, whose adoptions were registered in Ontario, to:

    
    -   Apply for copies of their adoption orders and birth registrations
    -   Place a disclosure veto on their file if their adoption order is made
        in Ontario before September 1, 2008.
    

    In addition, anyone who chooses to place a disclosure veto on their file
would be asked to voluntarily provide their medical history so that birth
relatives may be able to obtain personal health information.
    Adult adoptees and birth parents may continue to place a no-contact
notice on their file if they do not want to be contacted. They may also
register a notice specifying a contact preference on how they prefer to be
contacted.
    Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian today
applauded the government for including a privacy-protective disclosure veto in
the new bill. "This disclosure veto will preserve the privacy of a number of
deeply concerned birth parents and adoptees, while still allowing the vast
majority of birth parents and adoptees to obtain the information they are
seeking." The Commissioner is deeply grateful to the Government for making
these important changes, allowing the Bill to strike the right balance.
    The legislation is consistent with the recent Ontario Superior Court of
Justice decision of September 19, 2007 and the views of Ontario's Information
and Privacy Commissioner.
    Wendy Rowney, president of Adoptions Search and Kinship and a member of
the coordinating committee for the Coalition for Open Adoption Records,
stresses the importance of this legislation for adult adoptees: "Finally, the
vast majority of adult adoptees in Ontario will have access to a historically
accurate birth certificate."
    "We believe that it is in everyone's best interest to move quickly with
these changes," said Meilleur.
    "We are committed to helping adoptees and birth parents get as much
information as possible - important information about their past."

    
    Disponible en français

                             www.mcss.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

          ONTARIO'S NEW ADOPTION INFORMATION DISCLOSURE LEGISLATION

    The Government of Ontario's new adoption information disclosure
legislation would, if passed, allow for more openness in adoption records
while allowing those involved with past adoptions to protect their privacy.
    The proposed legislation amends the Vital Statistics Act and the Child and
Family Services Act to allow:

    -   Adoptees who are 18 years old or older 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 to obtain copies of their
        adoption orders that may provide information on where they were born
        and their given name at birth.

    -   Birth parents to obtain 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 and birth parents will also be able to continue to place
no-contact notices and contact preferences on their files.

    Disclosure veto

    If passed, the new legislation will allow adoptees and birth parents to
place a disclosure veto on their file if their adoption order is made in
Ontario before September 1, 2008. If a disclosure veto has been placed on a
file, copies of adoption orders or birth registrations will not be released.
    If a disclosure veto has been placed on a file, adoptees and birth parents
can still apply for non-identifying information in their adoption records. If
there are concerns about a severe medical condition, adoptees and birth
parents may also be eligible for a severe medical search to obtain or share
information about their family medical history, for example, information
needed for an organ transplant.
    The legislation, if passed, would ask anyone who registers a disclosure
veto on their file to voluntarily provide information about their family and
medical history. This information can help a birth relative who needs to know
about potential inherited medical conditions to make informed health care
choices.

    Regulatory change

    The government has made an immediate regulatory change to restore the
province's ability to give adult adoptees and adoptive parents copies of their
adoption orders. Identifying information about birth parents will be removed
from these documents. An adoptee may require a copy of their adoption order to
obtain certain documents including a passport or travel visa.
    The province's ability to release these important documents has not been
available since the recent Superior Court of Ontario decision regarding the
Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005.

    The new legislation will apply to all adoptions registered in Ontario.

    Media Contacts:
    Erika Botond
    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.mcss.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Julia Sakas, Minister's Office,
(416) 325-5219; Erika Botond, Communications and Marketing Branch, (416)
325-5187

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Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services

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