N.S. holds public information sessions as it mulls opening adoption records
HALIFAX -- Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are the only two provinces that don’t have open adoption records.
P.E.I. plans to change that next month, but officials in Nova Scotia are still trying to weigh people’s right to information, versus their right to privacy.
The province is holding public information sessions to gauge interest in the idea, and at least one Nova Scotians hopes the sessions lead to a change.
Rose Valade says meeting her birth mother was a life-changing experience.
“It was literally a dream come true. I had been doing this for 38 years, almost half my life, or more than half my life,” says Valade.
“She never knew my whereabouts, if I was alive or dead, if I was a boy or girl, if I was safe. And even to our conversation last night, she says, ‘I’m so glad you’re safe.’”
While meeting her birth mother was a happy occasion, Valade says finding her presented a significant challenge.
Valade was adopted in Nova Scotia, where adoption records have always been closed.
“I felt very alone. Nobody could really help because I didn’t have any names, places, I didn’t have another source,” she says.
New Brunswick has open adoption legislation, which came into effect into effect last year. P.E.I. will introduce legislation in the new year.
It remains to be seen whether Nova Scotia will follow suit.
“That really had us reconsidering our current situation and wanting to, before we embarked on any major changes, to really understand the impact to Nova Scotians and what Nova Scotians think about that,” says Wendy Bungay with Nova Scotia Community Services.
The Nova Scotia government says it is getting a variety of opinions on the matter.
One of the main concerns is that an adopted child or birth parent could have their information made available when they don’t want it to be. In New Brunswick and P.E.I., either the biological parent or adopted child can veto information from being shared.
“So we’ve looked at each of those provinces’ individual legislation,” says Bungay.
Valade found her birth mother by completing a mail-in DNA kit -- one way people are getting around the system. Some people are also turning to social media to find their birth parents.
Valade says, what initially prompted her to start searching, was a desire to learn her medical history.
“How is it that somebody is allowed to read my file, and read all the information that I’m not allowed to see, and it’s about me?”
The Nova Scotia government has indicated it will make a decision on the file later in the spring.
The next information session will take place at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax on Saturday. Public meetings will continue next week in Truro and Dartmouth.
The deadline to complete a survey or send in a letter will be Jan. 3.