New adoption law brings hope to Quebecers seeking birth parents
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2019 4:45PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 24, 2019 3:43PM EST
Recent changes to the law are giving new hope to some Quebecers who were adopted.
Bill 113 allows adopted children to learn the identity of their biological parents, and vice versa.
For Raymonde Thibault, the new law helped answer the question she had for 60 years.
“I knew that she didn't have a choice at the time, but would have liked – especially when I gave my birth to my daughter – to know how she felt. There were always questions, like how come I like music so much and my adoptive parents, they don't listen to music?" she said.
In 1993, as part of a pilot project, she was allowed to send her biological mother a message through a social worker to ask for a meeting.
Her birth mother refused.
“That was a real rejection and that was very painful. Very painful. I cried for months,” she said.
Last year, as one of its last orders of business, the former Liberal government adopted Bill 113.
Contact can now be made unless the birth parents or their child has previously indicated they don't want to be contacted.
The law is currently only partly implemented, allowing adopted children to learn the identity of their parents, only if the parents are deceased.
In July, Thibault found the answer she was looking for since she was a child.
“It was like I was born again. It was like a rebirth to know the name at last, and from there, with the information I had, in my file and genealogy, I was able to find cousins that met me with their arms wide open that gave me pictures and talked to me about her and that was a beautiful aspect of my history,” she said.
The group Mouvement Retrouvailles, which helps reunite adoptees and biological parents, pushed for Bill 113, but it said the law still doesn't go far enough.
“Right now the only thing that we're getting is the name of our birth mother. We're not getting anything like where she lived or the date that she passed away. We're not getting that, so if there's more one Mary Smith in Montreal, we're looking for a long time,” explained Lise Emond, who works with the group.
Mouvement Retrouvailles is pushing for the government to allow adoptees to access more information, but it’s not so simple.
There are sometimes bad stories of reunions, said Emond.
“There are people that could have been conceived by rape or could have been conceived by incest. It doesn't bring back good memories,” she said.
But for Thibeault, finding out her mother’s identity couldn’t have been more positive – she now has new relatives.
Her advice to birth parents who placed their children for children and want to reconnect: Make yourself easy to find.
“If you're not confident it will go well, at least say yes to an anonymous meeting or an exchange of pictures,” she said.