Nova Scotia shifts from its hard-no stance on open adoption records

The Nova Scotia government is softening its hard stance on keeping adoption records closed in the province.

Community Services Minister Kelly Regan told CBC's Information Morning Thursday that the province will begin consultations about how the province handles adoption records.

Birth parents and adult adoptees can currently apply for information through the province's Adoption Disclosure Service Program. However, they are forbidden from learning the identity of their child or parent unless the other party consents.

A provincial worker makes contact with the other party to find out if they are interested in knowing their biological relative. If there's no interest, the worker will attempt to provide non-identifying information about the relative, including medical history.

Steps the province is taking

The province has previously said it wasn't interested in changing its regulations.

Regan said no province has truly open adoption records because each allows parents or children a veto over whether their personal information is released.

"Bearing that in mind, we would be flipping the onus so that consent would be presumed unless we receive a veto," said Regan.

Regan said an expert will be hired to write a discussion paper so people better understand what is happening in Nova Scotia and other provinces. People will then be able to provide feedback.

"My hope is that we have a fulsome conversation with Nova Scotians, understand what their concerns are, address those as best as we can before we actually write the legislation," said Regan.


Wayne Ayre, a Dartmouth, N.S., man who adopted a child in the 1970s, said the government should skip over consultations and just change the legislation.

"Nobody's going to force anyone to take part in a program or be supported. If they didn't want to proceed with information from their past then they don't have to," said Ayre.

Ayre adopted his daughter through the Adopt Indian Métis program in Saskatchewan.

"We thought there were so many children in Canada that needed help that it would be better if we adopted than if we had our own," said Ayre, who already had two biological children.

Years later, his daughter decided she wanted to meet her biological mother — and she invited her adoptive parents to join. Ayre didn't know what to expect.

"Was this lady going to be upset because we adopted her daughter? Was she going to be happy we adopted her daughter? Did she want to know all about us? Did she want to know nothing about us?"

But the moment when they all met was full of happiness, he said.

"Her mother became very close, and in fact we became very close," said Ayre. "We consider her almost like our family."

Late last year, P.E.I. said it would introduce legislation to open adoption records. Nova Scotia is the only other province with closed adoption records.