Opening up adoption records goes beyond party lines

P.E.I. social assistance changes allow Islanders to earn more without affecting benefits

MLAs from all three parties in the legislature are calling on the P.E.I. government to open up its adoption records.

P.E.I. is one of only a few provinces that don't allow birth mothers and adopted children to obtain information about one another.

On Wednesday, Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker tabled a petition with 935 signatures calling for the records to be opened up.

During question period, PC MLA Sidney MacEwen raised the issue with Minister for Family and Human Services Tina Mundy.

"This is a issue that is very personal, very sensitive to many Islanders," said Mundy.

"We've been listening to their concerns … and we have agreed to review the program."

Consultation process

Mundy said currently birth parents and adoptees can access non-identifying information about each other through post-adoptive services.

She also said that under the Adoption Act, all adoptions are closed unless arranged previously.

"In the last few years, the majority of our adoptions, we have been trying to push towards an open adoption system … but currently all of the records would be closed," Mundy said.

Mundy said the province is planning to conduct public consultations and is looking at how other provinces have dealt with the issue.

She said recommendations will be made by the end of the spring and any changes to legislation would be introduced next fall.

'Richer for it'

Liberal MLA Bush Dumville has also spoken out on the issue.

In the legislature on Nov. 22 he spoke about his own experience as an adoptive parent.

"My wife and I have been blessed with a daughter through the adoption process," he said.

"We now have an extended family and we are richer for it ... After my daughter got access to her records it turned out that her and her aunt work side by side at the front counter of my business not knowing their family connection."

He urged government to ease the emotional anguish of adoptees and birth families trying to obtain information about one other.

"I just want to add my voice to the many voices who feel that it should be easier for birth families to connect."

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