Adoption records may be unsealed
Government seeks public input on proposal
The New Brunswick government is seeking the public's input on a proposal to open sealed adoption records, Social Development Minister Madeleine Dubé announced on Wednesday.
Under current Family Services Act, adoption records are sealed and the identities of children, birth parents and adoptive parents are protected. An adopted child and parent must both request information to allow them to make contact.
Both adoptee and parent groups have asked for the rules to be loosened, said Dubé.
Attitudes about adoption are changing and the government is proposing to modernize the post-adoption disclosure registry.
Under the proposal, the department would open sealed adoption records to give adult adoptees who apply a copy of their original birth registration with their birth name and the names of their biological parents, said Dubé.
Biological parents could also apply after the adoptee's 19th birthday to obtain a copy of the adoption order, which would include the adoptee’s name following adoption, she said.
Release of the information would not require the consent of the other party, said Dubé.
Another proposal would allow individuals involved in adoptions prior to any changes being enacted, to have the option to file a disclosure veto, which is done in other jurisdictions that already allow the opening of sealed adoption records, she said.
"This is a sensitive and deeply personal issue," said Dubé. "I encourage everyone who will be affected by the proposed changes to participate in the citizen engagement process."
"I would like to have their perspective. I'm receiving requests from groups, but I want to know, out there, who's thinking what and their perspective," she said.
The minister is encouraging people to read a discussion paper called Opening of Sealed Adoption Records, which is posted on the department's website, and respond to an online questionnaire by May 30.
There will also be regional public sessions, with dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks, she said.
The department will compile and analyze all public input and prepare a recommendation for the government, said Dubé.
She did not indicate any time frame.
Liberal Opposition MLA Victor Boudreau said his party is not ready to take a position on the changes, but the government needs to tread carefully, he said.
"Not all adoptions happen for warm and fuzzy reasons. There can be situations that are much more delicate, and maybe people don't want to know."