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October 7, 2009 / CBC News
Quebec Justice Minister Kathleen Weil is proposing a series of sweeping changes to adoption rules in the province, including provisions that would allow children to be adopted without severing ties to their biological parents.
According to the draft bill tabled in the Quebec national assembly on Tuesday, children would be able to keep both the family name of their birth parents and their adoptive parents.
While the adoptive parents would have official legal responsibility for the child, the biological parents would still retain some legal obligations, Weil said.
The proposal is a reaction to changes to Quebec’s Youth Protection Act that went into effect in 2007, which put pressure on the province’s Youth Protection Centres to find adoptive parents for foster children, the minister said.
“It gives [a child] more rights and stability,” Weil explained, because it provides a solution for children who still want to have a link with their birth parents.
The bill also introduces the option of open adoptions, which allow birth parents to sign an agreement that would ensure them the right to communicate with their child following the adoption. The agreement would have the force of law.
“These are all responses to an incredible change in Quebec society,” as well as societal changes across North America, Weil said. “All kinds of different family patterns.”
The draft bill also contains confidentiality provisions that would allow children to access their biological parents’ medical records without necessarily obtaining their identities.
Weil is proposing that those records only be accessible to children adopted after the law has been passed.
“We’re being prudent with what we’re proposing,” Weil said. “But we’ll see how people react to that.”
The proposals stem from recommendations made in 2007 by a group of experts chaired by Sherbrooke University law professor Carmen Lavallée.
A legislative committee will study the draft bill early next year.