Thursday, May 1, 2008

CANADA: Jones Says Revised Adoption Bill Endangers Abused Childen, May 1, 2008

May 1, 2008

Jones says revised adoption bill endangers abused children
By DAN PELTON Staff Reporter

Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones fears the provincial government's latest attempt to provide access to adoption records will open up the possibility of abused children being victimized again.

As the Progressive Conservative Community and Social Services critic, she introduced an amendment to the bill during a committee hearing that was aimed at ensuring that children who are abused, removed from the home and subsequently adopted, would be automatically protected from having their personal information disclosed to the abuser without the adoptee's consent.

The original intention of the Access to Adoption Records Act was to open up all adoption records in Ontario, so birth parents and adopted persons could find and contact each other.

It was challenged in court, however, and the court ruled that past adoption records could not be opened.

The revised bill states that previous records cannot be opened without the consent of all parties involved.

Records of future adoptions, on the other hand, can be disclosed once the adopted person reaches the age of 19.

Ms. Jones says she is puzzled by this apparent lack of protection for formerly abused adopted persons, noting that such a provision was in the original legislation.

"This was in the original Liberal bill. I think it's an oversight, but it's not in the bill now."

There is a provision that allows either the adopted person or the birth parents to effectively veto any contact by those applying to do so.

"In today's environment, if there is an adoptee taken as a ward of the court because of abuse, the adoptive parents will know of the abuse and can inform the child of the abuse," said Liberal MPP Liz Sandals, one of four Liberals whose votes defeated Ms. Jones' amendments at the hearing. "The adopted child can then vote for a no-contact order."

Trish Keachie, executive director of Dufferin Child and Family Services, sides with Ms. Jones on the issue. "Our concern is that, even if they are over 18 and choose not to reconnect, (the adopted person) will have their personal information disclosed. That can be disconcerting. They do have a choice, but it forces them to relive what they've gone through."

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