Time to modernize Alberta’s outdated adoption regulations

Nathan Cooper Cutout

This week I was pleased to join my friend and colleague MLA Leela Aheer in releasing a new plan to modernize Alberta’s adoption system.
The report outlines three key steps to improving adoption in Alberta, and will form the basis for new legislation to be introduced in the Legislature in the Spring session.
First, our plan grants families seeking an adoptive child the opportunity to post their profile on-line, allowing them to share their stories and raise funds to help cover the costs of what can be a long and expensive process.
Although this is currently allowed in other provinces, in Alberta’s it is banned under 30-year-old advertising laws. These regulations were drafted before the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the Internet remained in its infancy. Modernization of these rules is long, long overdue.
Secondly, our plan requires that an adoption professional visit the homes of all adoptive families to ensure that they are made aware of all community resources available to them. This is not currently required as part of some direct placement adoptions. Providing this added benefit can only help ensure more successful adoptions over the long term.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our plan takes dead aim at one of the most pervasive problems within Alberta’s adoption system, the stigmatization of birth parents. Currently, when a birth parent inquires about adoption, Child and Family Services opens an intervention file as a matter of routine. This simply is not fair. Under our proposal, social workers and hospital staff would instead make use of strengthened Public Health Post Natal Services (PHPS), and be encouraged to work with local adoption agencies.
I have long felt that, as a society, we need to stop leveling a burden of guilt on birth mothers who consider adoption. Instead, we need to realize that all situations are unique. In many cases, choosing adoption is the wisest and bravest thing that can be done under extremely difficult circumstances. Frankly, these mothers deserve our praise.
It’s also important to note that adoption has changed over the years. In the past, most children welcomed into new homes were adopted shortly after birth. Now, adoption stories are increasingly varied. In this regard the law needs to keep up with society.
As a father of three, including two adopted kids, I can tell you that adoption has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. At the same time, I’ve seen many issues in the system that need to be addressed for both the parents and the children. Our Official Opposition’s Modernizing the Adoption System report is an important first step, and I look forward to advocating for these long overdue changes.