On November 16th, the government of Alberta introduced legislative reforms to make the adoption process in the province simpler for adoptees, birth parents and prospective adoptive families. Through Bill 48, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act 2020, (No. 2), the province plans to implement several changes to the current process, which many feel creates unnecessary roadblocks for all parties involved in the adoption process.

Key Changes to the Adoption Process Under Bill 48

  • Proclaiming the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (Adoption Advertising), introduced in 2017, which will allow prospective adoptive parents to advertise their profiles publicly through licensed adoption agencies.
  • Making licensed agencies more accountable to help protect adoptive families and adoptees.
  • Make it easier for adult adoptees and birth families to connect in the post-adoption registry.
  • Prospective parents will have access to more online resources.

Specifically, the Act will:

  • Streamline adoption disclosure provisions related to the Post-Adoptions Registry as part of a larger strategy to reduce red tape in adoptions processes.
  • Support the release of more personal information to adoptees about additional individuals, such as siblings and extended family members.
  • Enable adoptees to receive clearer information with fewer redactions.
  • Eliminate the need for 2 separate sections in the act for pre- and post-2005 adoption disclosure.

In a statement, Alberta’s minister of Children’s Services, Rebecca Schulz said the changes are aimed at helping all participants in the adoption process:

The reason why we’re doing it is to make life easier for people and in this case, it’s for people who have been adopted, adoptees, prospective parents, prospective families that are going through processes…I’m proud to make changes that will help connect more children with forever loving homes and ensure that the adoption process is easier.

Online Access to Data Makes the Process More Accessible

In Alberta, information on adoption records is only available to the following people:

  • an adult adoptee 18 years of age or older
  • a birth parent of an adoptee
  • an adoptive parent of an adoptee
  • an adult birth sibling
  • an adult descendant of a deceased adoptee (a child or grandchild of the adopted person)

Currently, to obtain information on adoption records, eligible requestors must complete forms and submit requests (as well as identification) by mail or fax. The new process would make these records available online, allowing those who are permitted to obtain this information to access it more easily. Those who work in adoption agencies in Alberta have expressed support for moving these services online, saying the process has been in need of modernization for years.

Victims of the Sixties Scoop Express Support for Increased Transparency

An additional benefit of expanding accessibility and transparency of adoption records in the province is the relief it could provide for First Nations adults who were removed from their communities and families when they were young. In particular, the Sixties Scoop, a decades-long period during which thousands of Indigenous children were removed from their family homes and placed with non-Indigenous foster parents or adoptive families.

In a statement released by the Alberta Ministry of Children’s Services to Global News, one woman who was removed from her home and placed with a new family outside of her culture as part of the Sixties Scoop, said the changes will be welcome. She attributes finding her birth family with helping her begin to heal from the trauma she suffered as a child:

Connecting with my father and my birth family has given me my identity but I’m still filling in the blanks in my life. I’ve lost my language and my heritage was taken from me. I’m a toddler in my culture.

By allowing better transparency and simplified access to these records, many more people still feeling the traumatic effects of the loss of their culture and their family decades ago could find similar relief.

Bill 48 has not yet passed, but if it does, the changes will come into effect once the Bill has received royal assent.

The family law lawyers at Mincher Koeman are exceptionally experienced with respect to a comprehensive list of family law matters including parenting issues. We work with families to find effective solutions that always place the best interests of the child first. Contact our office today by calling us at 403-910-3000 or reach out online.

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