Congratulations, Ontario, on taking a big step towards basic equality and civil rights. Adopted people in Ontario now have the same right to know their background as everyone else.

My old post about this is here. From today's Star:
Supporters sobbed, cheered and embraced one another yesterday as the Ontario government finally passed controversial legislation to unseal the province's adoption records after what proponents of the bill consider 80 years of secrecy and shame.

New Democrat member Marilyn Churley, a birth mother and long-time champion of changes to Ontario's adoption laws, bowed her head and wiped away a tear as the votes were counted, aware that her 10-year battle for change was at an end.

"This is a very emotional issue, partly because it's an issue that we've been working on for so long and it's finally come to pass," a flushed and beaming Churley said after the legislation passed third reading by a substantial 68-19 margin.

Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello, the principal architect of the legislation, walked across the floor of the legislative chamber after the vote to embrace her NDP rival, whose own numerous efforts to get a similar bill passed always seemed to fail on the cusp of a vote.

"We worked a long time to get it right," Pupatello said later.

But it will take months to spell out the mechanics of how adoptees and birth parents alike will be able to access original or current birth certificates and the vital details they contain.

There have been 250,000 adoptions in Ontario since record-keeping first began, with nearly 73,000 names listed on a voluntary provincial registry.

In several months, the province will launch an intensive ad campaign across Canada and in neighbouring U.S. states to alert people to the changes to adoption law, Pupatello said. The new bill won't be proclaimed into law for another 18 months.

The changes will allow adoptees to learn their original name and birth parents the current name of the child they gave up. Such details can prove to be key information to tracing their ancestry and ultimately locating and reuniting a long-lost parent and child.

All 19 votes against the legislation came from the Opposition Conservatives, who want a so-called disclosure veto allowing anyone to keep their records sealed if they so desired.

The passage makes Ontario the fourth province to open its adoption records, joining British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland. But Ontario remains the only province in Canada without a disclosure veto.

The legislation allows parents and adoptees alike the option to request they not be contacted, but to keep their records sealed they would need to prove to a tribunal that unsealing their files would cause harm.

Conservative Leader John Tory, who voted for the legislation in principle when it came to second reading, said the privacy measures in the final bill simply aren't enough.

"They're wholly inadequate in that they force people in extraordinary circumstances to come forward and beg and plead for their privacy rights," he said.

One adoptee has vowed to fight the law in court, saying it violates his Charter right to privacy.


Mitch said...

It's about time... BC unsealed their records in 1996 - and I went and got my information on my 19th b-day;

I have a few friends in Ontario who will probably be first in line to get their information...

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Off topic:

Remember the whole "what is anti-Americanism" debate? It echoes something I heard from you, l-girl, about equating the government with the people. It also defines nationalism pretty well.

I think this article defines things nicely.

dogsled_stacie said...

Good for Ontario. I got my records last year from Alberta after they recently opened up adoption records. I didn't know what to expect, and I didn't really get a whole lot of important medical info. But what was the most emotional thing in my life - was seeing my birth mother's own handwriting from 35 years ago, explaining her reasons, in her own words for giving me up. It was like I was right there with her (I guess I was!) when she made the decision.

Even though we've never reunited, it was like a small part of us was connected through those documents. And I almost felt a bit of closure.

laura k said...

Wow, Stacie, thanks for sharing that. I am trying to imagine the feeling of seeing that handwriting. I'm so glad your birth mother left that for you.

It's amazing how many adopted people are in our little wmtc group. There are two more (that I know of) in addition to the two people posting here.

P.S. Love the new pic! Which pup is that.

Kyle, thanks for that essay, I'm saving it out to read later. There are always such interesting things on the Lew Rockwell site.

Mitch, it is about time, but look at the US! So far behind. The anti-abortion crowd fears mass abortions if adoption records are open. (There's no evidence of that - in fact it may be the opposite - more women would choose adoption if there was a chance for contact later.) But those people have their fingers in everything, none of it any of their business.

James Redekop said...

Remember the whole "what is anti-Americanism" debate? It echoes something I heard from you, l-girl, about equating the government with the people. It also defines nationalism pretty well.

Though what this article mean by equating the government with the people is a little different than whay I meant in that thread. In the article, it's along the lines of "to criticize the government is to criticize the people", but what I meant was more along the lines of "the government is the tool by which the people administer their country".

Which relates over to the Gomery thread and Lone Primate's post about how Martin has been "hitting the right notes" -- he may not be a dynamic leader, but he has been an effective administrator for the most part. And that's more important in the long run.

dogsled_stacie said...

Yeah, it was a pretty weird feeling. One I certainly didn't expect. I sort of almost feel *removed* from this whole adoption thing, something I didn't think about all that much.

The new pic - the dog is Kuna. My first in this whole mess I've created!! :-)
(I'm currently working on the dog pages, so come on back in a while and check out your favourites!)

laura k said...

(I'm currently working on the dog pages, so come on back in a while and check out your favourites!)

You know I'll be there. Can never see too many pup pics...