The Manitoba government is moving ahead with legislation that would open birth and adoption records, and make new adoption records more open, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said today.
“Many Manitobans have asked for greater openness of adoption records so adult adoptees can learn about their birth families and so birth parents can learn about the adult children they placed for adoption,” said Minister Irvin-Ross. “The changes we are introducing will help adoptees and birth parents connect with each other.”
The proposed amendments to the Adoption Act and the Vital Statistics Act would make adoption records more accessible for:
Manitoba-born adoptees, adopted in or outside of Manitoba;
adult adoptees born outside of Manitoba but adopted here; and
registered birth parents of adoptees born in Manitoba or born elsewhere but adopted here.
The proposed amendments would specify that:
• adult adoptees and birth parents would have a right to birth registrations and/or a written summary of available adoption information;
• adoptive parents’ identifying information would not be disclosed to a birth parent;
there would be no fee charged to those who have the right to request birth records;
parents and adult adoptees with existing records could file a veto on disclosure of identifying information; and
• once the changes are proclaimed, disclosure vetoes would not be available for new adoptions but contact preferences would be an option and would include the option of no contact.
The changes would also make records of new adoption more accessible.
“We must be careful to respect the rights of birth parents who placed children for adoption with an understanding of privacy,” said Minister Irvin-Ross. “We have looked at the experiences of other jurisdictions to see how best to make this work in Manitoba in a way that respects those rights.”
Once the legislation is passed, there will be a year before proclamation to ensure the province can do everything possible to let families know about the changes, the minister said. The amendments were developed to respect the privacy of those involved in adoptions many years ago and also provide the ongoing opportunity to file disclosure vetoes. As well, any vetoes currently filed with the post‑adoption registry will continue to be respected, the minister added.
The first adoption legislation was passed in Manitoba in 1925 and all adoption records from that time have been sealed except for adoptions granted after March 15, 1999. The post-adoption registry will continue to provide registration, search and reunion services to eligible family members involved in an adoption granted in Manitoba.
B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon have open adoption records and their experiences were considered in drafting these legislative amendments.
The proposed amendments to the Adoption Act and the Vital Statistics Act Respecting Open Adoption and Birth Records can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/adoption_search.html.