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Published Monday June 1st, 2009 at 7:30am

Original Article

Today, our long history of adoption secrecy comes to an end asOntario gives adult adoptees and birth parents access to their adoptionrecords. For many, it will provide sought-after answers. For some, themeans to find each other.

Importantly, the province has also provided a veto option for those who have no interest in being reunited with their past.

Thisstrikes the right balance between access to information for the vastmajority and privacy protection for the minority who want it.

Thereare 250,000 adoptions registered in Ontario, dating back to 1921. Sofar, just 3,700 people have filed disclosure vetoes, to prevent anyinformation from being given out. Another 1,200 have asked that theynot be contacted, and a further 1,600 have included conditions, such asrequesting contact be made through work and not at home.

Theproportionately small number of veto applications suggests thegovernment was right to legislate a more open system. Now, adoptees canaccess past records when they turn 18 and birth parents when theadopted person turns 19.

Going forward, the focus is correctly onopenness. All adoptions after September 2008 are considered open. Theyare not subject to a disclosure veto, but a no-contact order or contactrules are permissible.

Some critics say that the governmentdidn't go far enough to fix past wrongs and that no one should ever bedenied the knowledge of his or her past.

But heretofore aparent who gave up a child had the right to remain anonymous. For some,who may never have told their families or current partners about pastpregnancies, it is important to maintain the secrecy they were promisedyears ago.

Some who want to find their birth parents are drivenby an emotional desire to know what happened. But for others the searchis of a more practical, and sometimes even urgent, nature.

Justtry filling out the most basic medical form without knowing anythingabout your birth parents. Do allergies run in the family? Breastcancer? High cholesterol? Plus genetic information is increasinglyuseful in the fight against inherited diseases or to plot a course ofmedical treatment.

Under the old system where adoption recordswere sealed, there was a voluntary registry that matched up people onlyif both parties happened to put their names forward. This led to yearsof frustration and wild goose chases, just to find the same informationthe government had sitting in a file.

It is a welcome change that those files, for most, will now be open.