Share on Facebook  |  More Articles

Published Tuesday May 26th, 2009 at 1:24pm

Original Article

Birth parents may soon get a knock at the door from the child they gave up for adoption.

On June 1, Ontario's adoption laws will change to allow access to names. Right now, only non-identifying information - age of mother, hospital, circumstances, etc. - was given to people starting a search, says Sonja Deline, adoption supervisor with the Simcoe County Children's Aid Society.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services has set a new policy so adopted children who are now adults, and their birth parents, can get copies of the adoption order and birth registration.

"It's a basic instinct to want to know who you are, and all adoptees have a missing piece to their life. It's seen as a right for people to know their history. This will help them without having to rely on going to the Adoption Disclosure Registry," said Deline.

The information given to adoptees now is general. "They find out about a parent's interests at the time, their age when the child were born, and how long the child stayed in foster care."

The family medical history could also be shared - that is, if detailed paperwork was done at the time. Deline said earlier adoption records were vague, and didn't provide much information.

The new law has also created a sense of nervousness, said Deline.

"We've received calls from birth mothers who gave up their children 40 to 50 years ago, and some have never disclosed that to their family. They're worried the child may find them."

When those parents made the decision to put their child up for adoption, they were promised they'd never be found, she said. "Thirty or 40 years ago, you were ostracized if you were an 'unwed mother'. If you gave birth to a child, you did so in secret. So now, to all of a sudden have the possibility of that child coming before you, it brings up a lot of questions.

Deline said for the next week, there are still options for birth parents and adoptive children to keep that information private. Both can apply for a disclosure veto, which blocks your name from being revealed. This is available only for adoptions before Sept. 1, 2008.

The second choice is to apply for a no-contact notice. That means your name will be available, but the other party won't be able to call or e-mail. If they do, they could face a fine up to $50,000.

The third option is to list a contact preference. It will give the other party your name and a phone number or e-mail address if they want to search for you.

Deline said some adoptive parents are concerned about the change to the law, but they don't have a say in the matter. "Some are worried; their children have been through the foster system and through traumatizing situations, and they want to protect their kids. They are worried about the birth parents showing up at their doorstep."

But information on the child's adoptive name is only given once that child turns 19.

Deline said there are still a lot of people who won't want to find out the names of their relatives.

Barrie's Donna Danyluk is not convinced that it's always a good thing for birth parents and their adopted children to reconnect. "Most times, they gave their child up for a reason, and going back is not always the answer," she said.

An adoptee herself, the Barrie woman has adopted two daughters from China in the last decade.

Years ago, she decided to track down her birth mother. "I was adopted in 1963 on Mother's Day, when I was two months old," said Danyluk. "I had great adoptive parents, and my brother was also adopted from another family."

Danyluk wanted to send her mother a letter to thank her for not choosing an abortion, for giving her life, and for giving her up. She told her mother she had a good life, and was expecting a baby of her own.

"That letter was forwarded to her and that, for me, was enough."

While the provincial law doesn't affect her family, as an adoptive parent, she'd be worried about that family meeting ever happening.

"You'd have to be a very strong person to go through your child searching for their birth parent," she said. "You're meeting a stranger who's connected to you by blood."

Danyluk doesn't think the changes will make much difference in terms of searching for a blood relative. "Adoptive kids have always used whatever tools available - Facebook, You Tube; if someone really wants to find you, they'll find you."

For more information on your adoption information being released, go to www.ontario.ca/adoptioninfo or call 1-800-461-2156.