Nova Scotia

Law to open adoption records in Nova Scotia could be ready as soon as this fall

Nova Scotia is poised to open up adoption records. Last fall, the province launched a public consultation process, including an online survey and public meetings, to gauge support for the idea after years of people lobbying the government for the change.

Community Services Minister Kelly Regan says consultation supported the move

Community Services Minister Kelly Regan hopes to have legislation ready by the fall to open up adoption records. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Nova Scotia is poised to open up adoption records.

Community Services Minister Kelly Regan confirmed the plan in an interview at Province House on Wednesday.

"It is my intention to ask permission to do legislation on this particular issue, but there are steps I have to follow, as you'll understand," she said.

The minister said ideally that legislation would be ready in time for the fall session at Province House.

Regan launched a public consultation process, including an online survey and public meetings, last November to gauge support for the idea after years of people lobbying the government for the change.

Those consultations showed there is an appetite for opening up the records, said Regan. A report based on the feedback will be made public later this month and from there Regan said she would be meeting with some of the people involved in the process to discuss the next steps.

N.S. is one of the last provinces without open adoption records

Part of the preparation work for the change includes making sure services are in place for people who might need them and ensuring there are no unintended surprises for people, said Regan.

"We anticipate that we'll have a lot of people either reaching out for records or registering a veto and so we'll have to make sure that we have the technology in place to actually accept those things and make sure that we have staff in place, too," she said.

Nova Scotia is one of the last provinces in the country not to have open adoption records.

How the system works now

Presently, when a birth parent or adult who was adopted as a child wants to find the other party, they require that person's consent before information can be released. It's a different approach than provinces that use a presumptive consent model, which allows for a disclosure veto that expires upon a person's death.

Previous community services ministers have not supported opening up adoption records but, as she has in the past, Regan said for her it's never been an issue of whether she was willing to consider the idea, but ensuring her department staff had the time to devote to the matter.

"As we moved through transformation [of service delivery], I felt that this was work we could take on and so that's where we are now," she said.

Adoptee's reaction

The move is one Scott Pyke has long been waiting for.

Pyke, an adoptee himself and founder of the Nova Scotia Adoptee Advocacy Group, has been working toward this goal since 2018.

"It is so hard to summarize the feeling you get when you're actually able to reconnect with your family and reconnect with your history, your culture and your medical history," Pyke said Thursday.

"This is going to give so many people the opportunity to take more control of their own life and of their history, and give them the tools to succeed."

A 'big, happy surprise'

For the past two weeks, Pyke said his group had been waiting for an update on the government's plans. He was actually working a night shift when he saw the news online, Pyke said, which was a "big, happy surprise."

As someone who recently connected with his biological family, Pyke said that was a "ground-shattering moment in a really positive way."

Pyke said some members of the Adopted in Nova Scotia group, which connects thousands of members with support and information, have been waiting for these records for more than 60 years.

"They're going to finally get answers," he said.

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