Technology, advertising, education: Sector hopeful about government adoption review

Technology, advertising, education: Sector hopeful about government adoption review

Spruce Grove-Stony Plain UCP MLA Searle Turton introduced a private member’s bill last month to reform the adoption process.


The adoption sector is welcoming signals from the provincial government that it will review Alberta’s adoption rules.

The move came in the form of a private member’s motion from UCP MLA Searle Turton, member for Spruce Grove-Stony Plain.

Sheryl Proulx, executive director of the licensed, non-profit agency Adoption Options, said current dated regulations need to be modernized.

“Although adoption has evolved in so many positive ways over the years … the rates of placement have steadily decreased and the waiting lists for adoptive parents in terms of length of time they wait has continued to increase,” Proulx said.

“There are a few pressure points where we can do differently and improve.”

For Proulx, that includes new regulations around technology, education about what licensed adoption agencies do and more awareness of the adoption route for pregnant women.

“We’ve been dong this for 35-plus years,” she said last week.

“We hear and see first hand what’s working and what’s not, so I hope we’re going to be able to sit at the table and help develop some regulations that focus on the children — finding permanent, safe, loving homes for children as soon as possible.”

‘Finding forever homes’

Turton and his wife went through the adoption system for their second son around eight years ago.

The lengthy wait, high fees and what Turton labelled “an endless cycle of bureaucratic red tape” stuck in his craw, spurring him to table the motion and pursue change.

“My vision at the end of the day comes down to more kids finding forever homes, more parents able to add to their family, and a more efficient process,” he told Postmedia.

A large part of the work ahead will mean talking with folks like Proulx.

But Turton is also pushing for movement on an old private member’s bill which will allow families to post their profiles online.

That bill was tabled by then-opposition MLA Leela Aheer, now minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women. It passed unanimously in November 2017, but the governing NDP never hashed out regulatory changes.

Proulx said it’s a move her sector has been hoping for, as it has been well over 30 years since an overhaul in adoption advertising rules.

It’s currently illegal in Alberta to post online or advertise in any way that one wants to adopt a child. That includes posts on social media or online crowd-funding sites.

In this province, adoption rates fell by 25 per cent since between 2008 and 2016, even as wait lists creep steadily higher. Yet B.C. — which allows online advertising — has seen an increase.

Turton doesn’t have a timeline in mind for the review, but plans on being a “squeaky wheel” to ensure the government follows through.

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