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Adoption process changes on the horizon for Alberta

The road to adoption, or search for biological family members, can be a difficult one. Those undertaking the journey in Alberta are hoping a new government bill will help. Taz Dhaliwal reports – Dec 3, 2020

With a new tabled bill, along with policy and regulation changes, Alberta’s minister of Children’s Services, Rebecca Schulz, is on a mission to simplify adoption by removing barriers and increasing transparency.

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Additionally, government says the bill will help adult adoptees and former children in care have improved access to their biological and family information.

The minister’s office says all of this will be possible if Bill 48, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act 2020, (No. 2) is passed.

“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,” Schulz said on Thursday.

“I’m proud to make changes that will help connect more children with forever loving homes and ensure that the adoption process is easier,” she said.

Key changes will include:

· Proclaiming the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (Adoption Advertising), introduced by MLA Aheer in 2017, allowing prospective adoptive parents to advertise their profiles publicly through licensed adoption agencies – a change some have been lobbying to implement since its introduction. An order-in-council was granted Nov. 25.

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Read more: Alberta could soon allow hopeful parents to post adoption profiles online

· Making licensed agencies more accountable to help protect adoptive families and adoptees.

· The bill will also 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

Schulz says members from opposing parties also support the bill and one of the most vocal supporters for it is a fellow UCP MLA.

“This will go a long way towards easing the stigma, stress and anxiety often associated with the adoption process by allowing all participants to access information from the comfort of their own homes, rather than an unfamiliar setting like an adoption agency office,” said Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, in a release.

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Read more: Alberta couple gutted by adoption agency closure: ‘We just want to be parents’

Anila Lee Yuen, a prospective adoptive parent and CEO for the Centre for Newcomers in Calgary, says these changes can help strengthen communication between the two parties, especially with several biological mothers wanting to stay in touch with their child after the adoption process.

“It’s a stronger foundation for our future children for them to know that their birth mother really cared for them and chose this path because she actually cares for them and that my husband and I want to adopt because we also care, so there’s a village of parents that love them,” she said.

3 birth moms and 2 parents: how open adoption worked for an Alberta family – Nov 14, 2016

Laura (Lawanda) Osgood, is a survivor of the ’60s Scoop and she shares the pain she went through of desperately searching for her biological family for several years.

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“Connecting with my father and my birth family has given me my identity but I’m still filling in the blanks in my life,” Osgood said in a release sent out by the ministry.

“I’ve lost my language and my heritage was taken from me. I’m a toddler in my culture,” she went on to say.

Osgood says opening access to adoption information for ‘60s Scoop survivors is incredibly important as one’s past is a significant part of their individual story. She highly advocates for the sharing of this information in order to help those who have been separated from their loves ones.

Read more: Keeping siblings together: the dynamics of an open adoption

Lindsey Dudgeon, program director at the Small Miracle Adoption centre, which has offices in Calgary and Edmonton, says these online changes are long overdue. Dudgeon said the adoption system in the province has been in need updating and modernization as it has not been fundamentally altered since 2005.

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“I think all adoption agencies have been in conversation for some time now about how to move forward and provide this service to families, so we’re definitely on the cusp of being able to provide that service,” Dudgeon said.

“And again, it’s voluntary and based on what the couples are comfortable with.”

Sheryl Proulx, executive director, of Adoption Options, which also has offices in Edmonton and Calgary, says both prospective adoptive parents and birth parents need to know they are in safe hands with the adoption agency they choose to represent them.

“These changes will help make sure Albertans have the information they need to make the best choice for them,” she said.

Current adoption legislation has been in place since 2005 and if the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act 2020, (No. 2) is passed, then changes will come into effect on Jan. 1.

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