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Law to open adoption files in legislative process.

If you are an adoptee in Ontario and would like to know or contact your natural family, the present law states that unless a birth relative has requested contact, you are out of luck at getting any information.

Marilyn Churley, MPP for Toronto/Danforth, introduced private members Bill 14 in 2003. Churley has been working arduously at getting this bill passed in legislation since 1995. Bill 14 will amend the present Child and Family Services Act, which presently conceals information from the adoptee and natural parents. If passed in legislation, the bill will allow adoptees and natural parents to contact each other when the adoptee reaches 18-years of age (providing the 'no contact veto' has not been issued).

Churley, who lost her son to adoption 36-years ago, says, "I never held my son, and it broke my heart to have to place him for adoption." Many myths surround adoption says Churley, "Birth mothers were never promised confidentiality, and that has been the oppositions' (Government) argument for years."

Karen Lynn, who is a natural mother living in Toronto, reunited with her son in 1999. Lynn had been searching for her son for 14-years--then one day he contacted her. "Had I known he needed me sooner, I would have turned over heaven and earth to find him. We feel fortunate to have found each other alive."

Lynn also believes that by unsealing adoption records that a climate of 'openness' will evolve. "Mothers, who were accused of heartlessly abandoning their babies will be better understood as the young girls who were left no options by elders of the past," she says.

Wendy Rowney, an adoptee who reunited with her natural mother in 1997, has been an advocate in the Toronto adoption community for years. When asked about the benefits of Bill 14, Rowney says, "Everyone, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their birth and conception, needs to know his or her history. In order to understand ourselves, we need to understand who our people are and where they come from. We need to look at other people and see ourselves."

Bill 14 has been referred to the standing committee for justice and social policy and is waiting to get to a second reading. The present adoption system still has the right to withhold adoptees medical information, says Churley. She states that by keeping adoption records sealed we are "killing adoptees, and if medical information is not made available to adoptees and adoptive parents, adoptees will continue to unknowingly pass illnesses onto their own children. We need this Bill to be passed in legislation right away."

Michelle Edmunds is a writer, who has worked in Community Services and is herself an adoptee
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Title Annotation:Viewpoint
Author:Edmunds, Michelle
Publication:Community Action
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:May 17, 2004
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