Province launches online survey to weigh public opinion on open adoption records | CBC News

The province’s Community Services Department has launched an online survey to gauge public opinion on open adoption records.

The survey, available until Jan. 3, is part of consultations that will also include face-to-face meetings. Those could begin as soon as next month.

Community Services Minister Kelly Regan said consultation is important to avoid making any decisions that have unintended consequences. Regan said that was something that derailed a previous attempt to open up the records in 1999.

“I don’t think they had taken into account the concerns of, for example, women who had given up children who had been the victims of rape,” she said in a phone interview.

“I want to make sure that we are taking all steps to make sure that everyone is protected and that people get the information they need.”

Seeking to fill information gaps

Nova Scotia is the last province with closed adoption records.

It means when a birth parent or adult adopted as a child seeks the other party, they must have consent from that person before information can be released. It is something that is handled through the province’s Adoption Disclosure Service Program.

Other provinces use a presumptive consent model. It allows for a disclosure veto that expires once a person dies.

Scott Pyke, founder of the Nova Scotia Adoptee Advocacy Group, started pushing for open adoption records when he started his own search for his birth family last year.

Pyke said his group is supportive of the opt-out veto, which would still allow the disclosure of information about family heritage or medical information.

“And you have to understand, some of these adoptions happen when the parents are very young, so [medical] conditions crop up later on in life.

“What we want to make sure is that people have that information readily available to them so they can, you know, notify their doctor or reconnect with their heritage.”

Capacity to do the work

Regan said she’s hoping the consultation gives her department enough information to have proposed changes ready by the spring.

Although previous ministers have opposed opening up the records, Regan said her primary concern before acting was that her department had capacity to do the consultation work as officials also work to transform other aspects of operations.

“I needed to be comfortable that we could handle another consultation when we had transformation going on.”

This content was originally published here.

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