Biological ties to get legal nod
Adoption rules in Quebec will be overhauled to allow continuing links between adopted children and their biological parents.
In presenting a draft bill yesterday to amend Quebec's Civil Code, Justice Minister Kathleen Weil said the changes will affect a large number of Quebec families.
Most of the changes have been enacted in other jurisdictions of Canada and in the United States, she added, but some proposed changes were borrowed from France.
At present, adoption in Quebec is confidential, meaning the adoptive and birth parents often don't know each other.
Weil said the draft proposal would bring into law what many Quebecers are already doing with regard to closer contact between children and biological parents.
Weil proposed a "dual parenting" option, which comes from France, in which a child would be a full member of the adoptive family but continue to have contact with the birth family. The birth parents' names could even be included on the child's birth certificate along with those of the adoptive parents.
Weil is also proposing the concept of open adoption, which means that before an adoption, the birth family and the adoptive family agree to stay in touch afterward.
This option could include the exchange of information about the child, and provides for mediation if there are disagreements between adoptive and birth parents.
Such adoptions, recognizing both sets of parents, would be optional and would be possible only when the adoption takes place in Quebec, Weil said, but a committee is looking into how the concept might apply to international adoptions.
The new rules would also apply to "mono-parental" and "homo-parental" families, Weil said.
The draft bill allows for consultation, with public hearings in January, Weil said.
The new rules would not be retroactive, and current confidentiality rules would apply to adoptions concluded before the changes take place.
"Leave the past alone," Weil said.
But the exception is that children adopted either before or after the changes would have the right to obtain information about medical family history. A court could order such information to be forwarded to medical authorities without disclosing the identity of the birth parents.
Other changes proposed yesterday by Weil would give all adoptive children the formal right to know the identity of their birth parents, unless the birth parents veto it.
Children over age 14 who are wondering if they were adopted would be able to ask Youth Protection.
Youth Protection could also contact the biological parents to determine whether they want to get in touch. But a child over age 18 would have the right to register a veto to prevent such contact.
Mona Propst, manager for adoption services at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, said yesterday there are advantages and disadvantages to bringing biological parents into the picture; she had not read the draft bill, however.