Working for Change

OPEN ADOPTION RECORDS

Origins Canada advocates for adoption disclosure legislation in all provinces and territories of Canada that provides adopted adults unrestricted access to their original birth certificate, and unrestricted access to identifying information on their natural parents.  Origins Canada also advocates for adoption disclosure legislation that provides natural mothers unrestricted access to the original birth certificate of their son or daughter, and provides natural parents unrestricted access to identifying information on their son or daughter.

Adopted persons and natural families have the right to associate freely with each other without government restrictions or interference. In many provinces these rights are violated by restrictive laws, court decisions and public and private agency policies and services.

It is critical to restore the rights of adult adopted persons and natural parents in law and to create reforms which abolish the sealing of adoption records, the changing of names and identities for persons adopted, and the interference of governments in personal family matters and the right of all Canadians to freedom of association.


PROTECTION OF PREGNANT AND NEW MOTHERS

Pregnant and new mothers must be protected from the influence of adopters and adoption agencies during pregnancy and after delivery for a period of at least ninety days.

Pregnancy, even when planned within a stable marriage can be a daunting prospect. Pregnant women are naturally concerned with nutrition, lifestyle, the emotional aspects of pregnancy, the fears of labour and delivery, and most of all the health and well being of their growing baby. This is a time in a woman’s life when she needs support, particularly when she is young and unsure of how she will cope.

The young pregnant youth/woman as stated above, is vulnerable and preoccupied with her pregnancy and her baby. She may be frightened and is extremely vulnerable to the coercion tactics of the adoption industry as she genuinely loves her baby and wants what is best for her child. She can be easily influenced during her pregnancy.

The problems of infertile couples (although sad) have absolutely nothing to do with young, vulnerable pregnant and new mothers, and the idea that any mother should give them her baby “as a gift” is abhorrent.

The presence of adopters during pregnancy, delivery and post-partum causes extreme stress and pressure to a pregnant and post partum mother. The predatory and exploitive nature of the adoption industry, their coercive tactics, savvy marketing, influence and/or financial help causes undue stress, coercion and pressure on a vulnerable young pregnant youth/woman which is unacceptable, and against the UN policy of family preservation as a first resort for all mothers and children.

It is critical to review the practices of pre-birth matching, consent times, termination of parental rights practices, and to work for change in Canadian legislation.

THE TERM ‘BIRTHMOTHER’

The term “birthmother” was devised by adoption professionals to reduce a natural mother to that of a biological function. This term marginalizes mothers and creates a role for them in society which does not allow them to fully embrace their lived experience as a mother; but instead implies that the sacred bond of mother and child ends at birth and that her role is secondary to other mothers in society.

While pregnant, a woman given this label is instantly drawn into adoption coercion.  She is given a psychological role to fulfill which is to produce a baby for someone else. A pregnant woman is not a “birthmother”, but simply a pregnant woman or expectant mother.  However, once labelled a “birthmother”, the natural progression of her pregnancy is impeded.  She is psychologically groomed to produce her child for someone else. This is a form of reproductive exploitation.

The “birth” terms are not used in UK or Quebec legislation.

It is critical to abolish the use of these terms in Canadian legislation.

INFORMED CHOICE

All mothers and fathers considering adoption should have independent mandatory counselling regarding the emotional and psychological risks including lifelong long term effects of adoption on both the parents and their child.

Many studies show that surrendering mothers suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Disenfranchised and Pathological Grief, Moderate to Severe Clinical Depression, Secondary Infertility, Chronic Anxiety and other psychiatric disorders for the rest of their lives. Studies have also shown that persons adopted suffer from issues of abandonment, trust, mirroring, attachment, bonding, and identity which often lead to anxiety and other disorders.

Any counselling provided must be completely independent from the adopters or the adopting agency. The adopters and adopting agency must not pay for, recommend, or know the counsellor, and stiff penalties should apply for breach of these guidelines.

The Counsellor must be an independent Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist knowledgable in adoption trauma and respectful and supportive of family preservation. It is this Counsellors’ job to ensure that she/he is fully conversant about resources that are available to the expectant parents to ensure that they are able to make a fully informed decision.

Whenever possible a Natural Mother/Father and/or an Adult Adoptee should also be made available to aid in the counselling of the parents not to support adoption as is currently done, but to show both sides of the issue. Counsellors must have at hand the studies stated above and make them available to the parents in writing.

It is critical that parents considering adoption have been made aware of the long term physical, emotional and psychological effects that surrender will have on themselves and their child and have independent counselling and legal advice which supports Family Preservation.

FINANCIAL SECURITY FOR MOTHERS

All mothers in Canada should have access to financial resources and programs which allow them to raise their children on their own without fear, stigma or severe financial hardship.

It is critical to review these practices and work for change in Canadian legislation.

INDEPENDENT LEGAL COUNSEL

All mothers and fathers who are considering adoption must have Independent Legal Counsel, and not be counselled by the Legal Counsel of any Adoption Agency or Adopters.

It is critical to review these practices and work for change in Canadian legislation.  

 

CONSENTS TO ADOPTION

In Canada, a new mother can give her consent to an adoption anywhere from as early as 48 to 72 hours after a birth in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and New Brunswick respectively and up to 14 days in PEI. Most provinces are 7-10 days after a birth. In what other sphere would any woman be advised to sign a permanent life changing document 48 hours after the delivery of a child except in that of adoption?

In the UK adoption consents are invalid if signed before six weeks after a delivery, but in North America, it is marketed as a positive feature for women to be able to sign papers soon after delivery. There are movements in Canada to make this consent period earlier and earlier as shown with the recent change in New Brunswick law to 72 hours. This law obviously favours adopters and the adoption industry and is not the best interests of mother and baby.

The law should protect mothers and children from these early consent periods and lengthen these periods to at least six weeks after a birth, so that a mother has an opportunity to recover from the trauma and changes of childbirth and also to be able to step back and have some perspective on a very important, permanent, life changing decision for both her and her child.

It is critical to review these practices and work for change in Canadian legislation and move Consent Times further AWAY from birth.

VETOES

In some provinces in Canada, records are open, but only conditionally.

Adopted Persons and Natural Mothers or Fathers are able to register Vetoes in order that their identifying information is not given to the other party.

Origins Canada does not support vetoes.

1. No citizen in Canada should have the right in law to prevent another citizen in Canada from receiving their personal government documents, such as a birth registration, or birth certificate.
2. A new group of marginalized citizens is created when records open, except to those individuals where vetoes are filed.
3. Vetoes are extremely hurtful. Many mothers and adopted persons who search and find a veto at the end of their journey, are devastated with no recourse.
4. In provinces where records are open, eg. Ontario, less than 1% of those who had the opportunity to file vetoes actually did so.
5. Origins have had reports of fraud in the filing of vetoes. eg. vetoes filed by adoptive parents instead of adopted person.
6. The administration of vetoes is costly and ineffective.
7. It is not the mandate of government to monitor the social secrets nor the freedom of association of its citizens. Canadian law already has a system in place to deal with harassment or other illegal actions.
8. In jurisdictions where records are open with no restrictions, or have never been closed, no negative consequences have been reported.

The current system is also flawed in that there is no verification of identity for the person filling out the Disclosure Veto. Adopted Parents have been known to fill out these forms without the knowledge of the Adopted Person. It is critical that Provincial Governments in Canada end the use of Vetoes. It is also critical that, while Vetoes continue to be the current law, Provincial Governments verify in person the identity of any person placing a Veto in Adoption Disclosure transactions.

It is critical to review these practices and work for change in Canadian legislation.

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