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  Adoption records opening in Alberta; trying in Ontario
Family Helper editor
(Sept. 1, 2004) Alberta is opening its adoption records, the third province to do so, after British Columbia and Newfoundland. Starting Nov. 1, 2004, adult adoptees (18 or older) and birth parents in Alberta can get identifying information about each other, like name, address and date of birth. However, adult adoptees and birth parents who want to preserve their privacy can block release of their identifying information by filing a disclosure veto, by Nov. 1, with Alberta's Post Adoption Registry.

For more, see Adoption Council of Canada, "Alberta Opens Records",

(Dec. 4, 2003) Legislators continue to fail, and to try again, at getting a bill passed to open adoption records in Ontario. Here are the developments since December 2002:

-- MPP Marilyn Churley's private member's Bill 77 failed to reach third reading on Dec. 12, 2002.

-- After the demise of Bill 77, two bills, numbered 16 and 60, were proposed. Both were private members' bills, but one came from the governing Progressive Conservative (PC) party:

* Bill 16, Adoption Disclosure Statute Law Amendment Act, 2003, by Marilyn Churley (New Democratic Party). On May 15, 2003 it passed second reading 41 votes to 14, and was sent to the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy.

* Bill 60, Disclosure and Protection of Adoption Information Act, 2003, by Wayne Wettlaufer (PC). On June 12 it passed second reading by one vote: the Speaker broke a tie by voting with those in favour of seeing the bill go forward. It was also sent to the justice committee.

-- Premier Ernie Eves called a provincial election on Sept. 2, 2003, bringing an end to the 37th Parliament and to all bills on the order paper, including the two competing bills on adoption disclosure, Bill 16 and Bill 60.

-- On Dec. 4, 2003 MPP Marilyn Churley introduced Bill 14 with the same terms as Bill 16. It passed first reading.

Bill 77 fails to open adoption records -- Ontario's provincial legislature has failed once again to pass a bill to open adoption records. MPP Marilyn Churley's private member's Bill 77 did not reach third reading on Dec. 12, 2002. Lack of support from the Conservative government has crushed hopes of reforming Ontario's adoption law to improve access to records for adoptees and birth parents. After three years of trying, Ms. Churley said she hoped a new government would bring forward a government bill to address the issue. In reform of access-to-adoption records, Ontario lags behind other jurisdictions. Similar legislation has been passed in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Oregon, Alaska, England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.

On June 28, 2001 Churley's bill to open Ontario's adoption records passed second reading in the Ontario legislature and was sent out for public hearings, a rare success for a private member's bill. Bill 77 needed only to pass third reading to become law.

Similar to the previous Bill 108, the Adoption Disclosure Statute Law Amendment Act, 2001, or Bill 77, would allow adult adopted people and birth parents to get birth registration and adoption records. Adult adoptees could get a copy of their original birth registration. It would include a contact veto for those who do not wish to be contacted. Those affected by disclosing adoption information could get counselling on request.

Then the Ontario Legislature adjourned Dec. 17, 2001 for a four-month recess, leaving many bills unpassed. There was no vote on Bill 77, New Democrat MPP Marilyn Churley's bill to allow adopted people broader access to information about their birth parents. All the bills were technically still alive and could be debated on the Legislature's return in the spring, after the Tories chose a new premier.

As a Private Member's bill it faced an uphill struggle to get passage. Churley introduced similar bills in 1999 and 2000. Both got all-party support, but the government prorogued the house before either could become law.

"It's high time to open Ontario's adoption records so adult adoptees can access their own adoption records and medical information," said Ms. Churley, a birth mother who reunited with her son in 1996 after a lengthy search.

Every year, individual members of all three parties introduce dozens of bills in the Ontario Legislature. Unlike government bills, which get priority on the agenda, private members' bills are guaranteed to come to a vote only on second reading (approval in principle). For a private member's bill to get to third reading generally requires unanimous consent. Bill 77 died on the legislative order paper and will not be carried to the next session.


--Marilyn Churley, 416-325-3250.

-- Holly Kramer, President, Parent Finders,

-- Coalition for Open Adoption Records (COAR),, letter on adoption disclosure reform and petition on Bill 77. Karen Lynn, Wendy Rowney,

-- Karen Lynn, Canadian Council of Natural Mothers,,

-- Pat Fenton, Adoption Council of Ontario,

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Updated Mar. 22, 2006

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