A private member’s bill that would remove the ban on prospective parents posting or advertising their interest in adopting online took another step forward in the Alberta legislature this week.
On Monday, the proposed amendment to Bill 206, the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, passed second reading.
“Up until now, parents hoping to adopt a child have not been able to advertise a profile online,” Wildrose MLA Leela Aheer said.
She explained prospective parents in other provinces — like Ontario, B.C. and Yukon — are allowed to share their stories and videos or photos of themselves on sites like Canada Adopts.
“It’s really important that it’s as easy and accessible as possible,” Aheer said. “Right now, it’s a process that’s extremely stressful and overwhelming.”
She said allowing a licensed adoption agency to publicize the profiles of prospective adoptive parents who meet the provincial requirements would make the process smoother for both those looking to adopt and those looking to place their child up for adoption.
“Many of those who work to make adoptions possible have said that the restrictions need to change,” Aheer said during question period on Monday. “There’s even concern that birth parents, expectant moms and parents in Alberta are finding parents from other provinces because prospective parents in Alberta are simply not able to post their profiles online and connect with them as easily.”
Aheer introduced the bill after a similar suggestion by Robyn Luff, NDP MLA for Calgary-East, last session. Both Luff and her brother were adopted.
“My family adopted me locally out of British Columbia,” Luff shared, “but my brother is an international adoption. He’s from Bolivia.
“When I was about three years old, my family had a rotary exchange student from Bolivia. My dad was a lawyer at the time. She had come and spent a year with us and she was lovely… Her dad was a doctor who worked at a hospital in Bolivia. It just so happened that he was present at a delivery of a baby boy whose parents couldn’t care for him and left him at the hospital. So we got a call in Canada, my mom and dad did… ‘Hey, we have a baby. Are you interested in potentially coming to get him?'”
When the issue was presented in the legislature on Monday, it prompted several MLAs to share their own personal stories of being adopted or adopting children themselves.
“From the first time when I saw my first son, Sam, he was just about two years of age,” said Sherwood Park MLA Annie McKitrick, who adopted her two sons. “It was love at first sight.”
The amendment received all-party support for second reading.
“I also want to express my appreciation, as the speaker has, for the profound effect of these speeches on me,” Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Bob Turner said. “It isn’t only that I’ve learned a lot about a very important subject, but it’s also shown a humanity in this place that we don’t often get to see, unfortunately.”
Aheer admitted the bill still requires some finessing, including how it would be regulated. Input of stakeholders and those in the field would be gathered, she said.
At least one MLA raised concerns that the amendment ran the risk of treating children like commodities and hoped changes could be made to prevent that.
The change still requires royal assent and third reading in order to become law.