NEWS: On November 1st 2005, after many years of lobbying by community groups, Ontario became the fourth province in Canada to approve open records after the Ontario Government passed The Adoption Information Disclosure Act (Bill 183) to implement an open records system. Once policy and procedures are developed and implemented (estimated to be sometime in mid-2007), adoptees and natural parents will be able to apply.
New Adoption Information Law Improves Right To Information And Privacy For Adoptees And Birth Parents
Legislation Balances The Right To Know With The Protection Of Privacy
TORONTO, Nov. 1 /CNW/ – Ontario’s new adoption information law will soon give adoptees and birth parents easier access to information sealed in adoption records and new privacy protections for people who want to keep their past in the past, Minister of Community and Social Services Sandra Pupatello announced today.
The Ontario legislature today passed Bill 183, the Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005. The legislation updates provincial adoption information laws.
“This legislation will give adoptees the same rights as non-adopted individuals, while allowing those who wish to maintain their privacy to do so,” said Pupatello. “It strikes the right balance and recognizes that the right to information is not the same as the right to a relationship.”
Once fully implemented, the new adoption information law will:
- Give adoptees who are 18 years old or older the right to obtain copies of their original birth records and adoption orders that would provide them with their original birth name and may identify birth parents
- Provide birth parents with access to information from the adoptee’s birth records and adoption orders once the adoptee has reached 19 which could allow them to learn the adoptee’s name after adoption
- Allow the Child and Family Services Review Board to prohibit disclosure of identifying information in circumstances where there are concerns for personal safety
- Give all parties the right to put a “no contact” notice on their file, prohibiting each party from contacting the other.
The legislation will come into full effect in approximately 18 months. The transition period will allow the province time to put necessary procedures in place to process requests for information and “no contact” notices. The transition period will also provide time for adoptees and birth parents to learn about their new information and privacy rights.
“We’re thrilled that the McGuinty government is recognizing that adoptees have the same rights as every other Ontarian – to know who they are,” said Wendy Rowney with the Coalition for Open Adoption Records. “Many birth parents and adoptees in this province have waited decades for this day to arrive; we’re finally here.”
Currently, it can take up to four years to re-unite families through Ontario’s adoption disclosure register. In 2004, only 887 individuals out of 57,000 who were on the register were reunited. The new law should help adoptees and birth parents learn about their medical and personal history without any unnecessary hardship or delay. “Imagine not knowing about your personal history, or who your parents are. Imagine not knowing if the child you gave up has had a good life,” said Pupatello. “Finally, our adoption information laws will recognize how
important these things are to adoptees and birth parents. Finally, Ontario adoptees will have what the rest of us take for granted – the right to know their personal identity and history.”
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ADOPTION DISCLOSURE LEGISLATION THAT BALANCES THE RIGHT TO KNOW WITH THE PROTECTION OF PRIVACY
The Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005, amends the Child and Family Services Act and the Vital Statistics Act, and balances the right of adult adoptees and birth parents to know about their history and identity with the protection of privacy.
The Right To Know
- Adoptees who are 18 years old or older will be able to obtain copies of their original birth records that will provide them with their original birth name and may identify birth parents.
- Adoptees over the age of 18 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 one year after the adoptee has reached 18. Information about the adoptive parents would be removed from the adoption records.
The Protection of Privacy
- Birth parents and adult adoptees will be able to apply to the Child and Family Services Review Board to prevent disclosure of identifying information in circumstances where there are concerns for personal safety.
- All parties have the right to put a “no contact” notice on their file. 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 record or adoption order. A person who violates a “no contact” notice may be fined up to $50,000.
- When an individual files a “no contact” notice, he or she will be asked to fill out a voluntary form that requests family history, medical information and other information the person agrees to disclose. That information will be passed on to the adoptee or birth parent upon request.
Full implementation of the legislation will occur approximately 18 months after Royal Assent to allow the government to put required procedures and processes in place to file “no contact” notices and conduct searches for information. The transition period will also allow time for adoptees and birth parents to learn about their new information and privacy rights. The legislation is retroactive and applies to all adopted individuals whose adoptions were registered in Ontario.
For further information: Contacts: Sara Best, Minister’s Office, (416) 325-5219; Paul Doig, Ministry of Community and Social Services, (416) 325-5187; Public Inquiries, (416) 325-5666, Toll Free: 1-888-789-4199