New Quebec law makes it easier for adopted children to find birth parents

"The least little thing we get from our parents, for us, it's huge," says Lise Emond of Mouvement Retrouvailles, as Quebec's Bill 2 will now allow adoptees to obtain the names of their birth parents in closed adoptions. Anastasia Dextrene reports.

Adults adopted in Quebec can now access the names of their birth parents, regardless of whether their biological parents opted to conceal their own identities or not.

Lise Emond, the Montreal representative for Mouvement Retrouvailles, says it’s a change her organization has long been working for.

“For all these years, everything was confidential,” she explained. “They would give us information like how old your mother was, what colour were her eyes.

“The mother was allowed to put a veto in 2018 that she didn’t want her name divulged. Now with the Bill 2, they’re divulging the name.”

It’s a change that’s very personal for Emond, as she was adopted.

“I found my birth mother in 1992,” she said. “She had deceased, but I found sisters and siblings and aunts, and my last aunt died last year, in February, so she was 99 years old. So I got to know my mother by her.

“When I met the family, they said, ‘oh my God, your nails, you remind me of your mom because I used to do her nails all the time.’ And that is something that I never had before because my life would start in the mirror.”

Lise Emond of Mouvement Retrouvailles (right) with her birth mother’s sister (centre) and cousin (left). (Submitted by: Lise Emond)

Emond says a more complex search for her birth father was settled when she met his family in 2024 – after looking for 41 years.

“It’s always in the back of our minds that we’re looking for that link,” she said. “And for me, what was important is to touch. I wanted to touch someone that had the same skin, the same blood as me.

“We’re not there to take anything. The only thing we’re there is to see our family, to learn about our father, to learn about the life he had. And my father, no one knew about it because he died in 1984. But no one knew he had a child.”

Emond encourages those searching to do so cautiously and not to shy away from DNA testing. For parents, the provisions of Bill 2 will still allow them to decide if they wish to meet their birth children or not. Emond expects to see many reunite.

“We are expecting between 30,000 and 60,000 demands for people to get their parents’ name,” she said. “And there’s one thing that is important to know also that, for example, if your mother was adopted and she died, but you’re the first sibling, you’re the first descendent, you are allowed to ask to send in and get a request for your mother’s name and get the family name. So it doesn’t stop only for the adoptees.

“And the least little thing that we get from our parents, for us, it’s huge.”

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