By: PAMELA COWAN, REGINA LEADER-POST
Published on: January 3, 2017
New regulations will make it easier for adult adoptees and birth parents in Saskatchewan to connect, but not everyone is interested in doing that.
The regulations, which came into effect on Jan. 1, make birth registration information more readily accessible for adult adoptees —18 years and older — and birth parents.
Birth registrations include information such as the name of the listed birth parents, the name of the child at birth, the location of the birth and the name of the hospital.
Last February, the provincial government announced the changes to provide notice to individuals involved in the 37,000 adoptions that have occurred in Saskatchewan since 1922.
The regulatory changes improve access and replace the requirement to obtain consent.
“These changes will help support individuals involved in an adoption in learning more about their history, and even potentially strengthening their connections to their culture and birth family, if this is something they wish to move forward with,” noted Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor in a news release.
However, birth parents and adult adoptees can file a veto or a contact preference.
A veto prevents the release of identifying information and a contact preference indicates how an individual wishes to be contacted.
The veto is not a new concept. It was first introduced April 1, 1997 and applied to adoptions following that point in time as a way to balance privacy with access to birth registration information, said Ellen McGuire, director of program design and operational policy standards with the Ministry of Social Services.
As of Dec. 30, 2016, 84 birth moms, three birth fathers and 29 adult adoptees filed vetos over the course of a year.
That said, a number of adoptees, their adoptive families and birth families have been asking for improved access to birth registration information for years, McGuire said.
“There is so much information now available online through social media and we knew individuals were conducting their own searches and this is a way that we can better support their efforts,” McGuire said.
Medical information searches can be done on behalf of the adoptee — even if the birth parent files a veto.
“We can contact them and seek that information and they wouldn’t have to provide their own identifying information,” McGuire said.
Saskatchewan is not the first province to make the regulatory changes.
“This has been going on for some time,” McGuire said.
British Columbia introduced improved access to birth registration in the early 2000s, Alberta around 2005 and Manitoba on July 1, 2015, she said.
The government has been tracking requests for birth information since last February.
The majority of inquiries — about 250 — have come from adult adoptees. Approximately 50 inquiries came from birth parents and another 50 from next-of-kin, such as the adult children of adoptive parents or the adult children of a birth parent.
McGuire encourages adult adoptees and birth parents to call 1-800-667-7539 or visit (www.saskatchewan.ca/adoptionrecords) to learn more about the new regulatory changes that improve access to birth registration information.