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Unexpected demand for adoption records in central Canada

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An unexpected demand for adoption information is facing the post-adoption registry in the central Canadian province of Manitoba. The demand comes after the provincial government legislated to open up adoption records earlier this year.

The post-adoption registry provides “non-identifying information, search and reunion services to eligible family members who were involved in an adoption that was granted in Manitoba”.

Changes to the province’s Adoption Act has made it easier for adults who were adopted as children to find their birth parents, and those parents to find out more information about their children who were put up for adoption.

Adoption records in Manitoba were partially opened in 1999, but anyone who was adopted before then could not access records because previous adoption laws required the consent of both parties before information could be released.

Seven hundred and fifty people had applied for adoption information before the new legislation came into force in mid June, but since then the registry has received an additional 1,000 applications from locations as far apart as Thailand, Chile and the UK, as well as from other Canadian provinces and territories and the United States.

Kerri Irvin-Ross, Manitoba’s Family Services minister said:

“All of us want to know our heritage and where our families came from. By making birth records more accessible, this may open the door for adult adoptees to form a deeper understanding about their birth families and rebuild a connection with their home communities.”

The unexpected demand for information has been so great that the registry has had to employ additional staff to cope with the increasing backlog. This has caused some frustration for applicants. Forty year old adoptee Scott Johnson has already waited 12 weeks for his information and has now been told he might have to wait the same again. Mr Johnson says he is anxious, but remains patient. He said:

“I waited this long, what’s an extra 12 weeks?”

To meet the application criteria, adoptees must be 18 years old or over and born in Manitoba, but could have been adopted either in or out of province. Adoptees who were born outside Manitoba but adopted in the province are also eligible.

Birth parents seeking information about children they put up for adoption can apply for their child’s pre-adoption birth registration details and the substituted birth registration, which doesn’t name the adoptive parents. However, they can only make an application once their child is 18 or over.

The Adoption Act does allow people to file a disclosure veto if they wish to keep their information confidential. It also lets individuals file a contact preference, which specifies the nature of any contact between an adoptee and a birth parent.

Manitoba is one of the ten provinces and three territories that make up Canada. Each province and territory has its own government legislating at a provincial or territorial level. Canada also has a central federal government based in Ottawa, Ontario that legislates at a national level.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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