Authors: Breanne Lothian, Erin Wolff
Recent amendments to the adoption legislation in Saskatchewan have, among other things, made it easier for birth parents and adult adoptees to access birth registration information. These amendments to The Adoption Regulations, 2003 (Saskatchewan), which are aimed at making adoption information more accessible, took effect January 1, 2017, while other amendments to the adoption framework are expected to come into force later this year.
Access to Birth Registration Information
One of the most significant changes now in force is the removal of the consent requirements for accessing birth registration information, regardless of when the adoption occurred.
Previously, in order for an adult adoptee to find out his or her own birth name and birth parents’ names, the consent of his or her birth parents and adoptive parents was required. Similarly, an adoptee was required to consent to a birth parent’s access to birth registration information. This often resulted in lengthy searches to locate biological parents or children as the sealed records made it difficult for birth parents and adult adoptees to contact each other.
Now, birth registration information, including the name of the birth parents listed on the birth registration, the child’s name at birth and the location of the birth and name of the hospital, will be provided to adult adoptees and birth parents upon request, assuming no veto has been filed.
Who can request birth registration information?
The following individuals may request birth registration information for adoptions that were finalized in Saskatchewan:
- an adult adoptee (18+ years of age);
- a birth parent named on the original birth registration; and
- if the adult adoptee or birth parent is deceased, an adult child of the deceased.
Can birth parents and adoptees opt out?
For adoptions that occurred prior to January 1, 2017, both birth parents and adult adoptees may opt out by submitting a veto which prevents the Ministry of Social Services from releasing any identifying information found on the original birth registration relating to that person.
Vetos cannot be filed for adoptions occurring after January 1, 2017. Moving forward, all adoptions will be subject to the new regulations and birth registration information will be generally available to adult adoptees and birth parents upon request.
Other Recent Amendments
Some other significant changes effective January 1, 2017 to the adoption regulations in Saskatchewan include:
- Contact Preferences – Adult adoptees and birth parents may now file a contact preference, specifying whether they would like to be contacted and, if so, their preferred method of communication. Unlike a veto, a contact preference will not prevent the release of identifying information found on the original birth registration. Contact preferences may be filed by submitting the requisite form to the Post-Adoption Registry at any time, regardless of when the adoption happens.
- Standardized Requirements – The adoption requirements will now apply to all adoptions by Saskatchewan residents, regardless of the child’s country of origin. This is intended to ensure that all adoptions are in the best interests of the child.
For more information, including how to access birth registration information or file a veto or contact preference, visit the Government of Saskatchewan website.
Further amendments have been proposed to The Adoption Act, 1998 (Saskatchewan), including:
- Child’s Voice in Court – Children seven years of age or older will be provided with the opportunity to have their voice heard in court regarding their wishes and understanding with respect to the adoption process.
- Revocation of Birth Parent Consent – The number of days birth parents are permitted to revoke their consent to an adoption will be increased from 14 days to 21 days after the consent to adoption or transfer of guardianship is signed.
- Compliance Orders – The revised legislation permits the Minister to apply to the court for a compliance order to ensure that the legislation, including any contact preferences, is being complied with.
It is currently anticipated that these proposed amendments will come into force in the spring of 2017.
Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.