Having some familiarity with adoption and being somewhat versed in privacy law, I found this quote from the Privacy Commissioner odd:
Lives would be "shattered" if the province retroactively opens up sealed adoption records and reveals the secrets of women who gave up children years ago, Ontario's privacy commissioner said today. The government promised mothers who gave their children up for adoption that those facts would never be unearthed, Ann Cavoukian said in a release hours before she was expected to present her case to the committee scrutinizing the province's adoption disclosure law. "If this bill is not amended, some lives will be shattered," Cavoukian said. "This retroactive legislation must be changed," she said. "These committee hearings provide our last chance to right a wrong."Privacy in an adoption involves a lot of people. The mothers who gave up the children, however, are the only ones who are protected under secrecy protection if the Privacy Commissioner is to be believed and protecting that secret on their behalf involves many people, despite the simple fact of the existence of the records involved - in the files of the state. The record exists of the adoption of the now adult adopted individual. The record exists of the identity of the family that raised the person. The record exists of the birth of the adopted person which in many cases would name both parents, not just the mother. Further, there are the ancillary people tied to those records. Those parents have their own parents and siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, who might not share the shame. Despite all those interests, I would expect that these records are not to be opened to public scrutiny under any scheme - they are only to be given to the directly interested. Yet for all the discretion and specific protections that is and could be in the law, it is not enough for the Commissioner who is quoted as speaking on general principle.
In any other circumstance when one adult's interests clash with another's, the determination under law is usually based on a couple of things - an actual determination of each particular person's interests at that moment of the hearing and not at some past date. Then, if the interests actually conflict, then that conflict is balanced and is balanced on their present day interests - as opposed to a deal in the past, a presumed and perpetuated shame. So...what if the parent refused where the child was in need of information about a genetic disporder and needed biological family's medical history. Ought not that interest override shame from an era that is passed? And...what if the birth mother is dead and all other biological family members would be delighted to be reunited and create a greater group than the nuclear family? Ought that interest override the person beyond granting consent? What if the identity is all that is wanted by the adopted child, not contact?
We take a very odd view of the adopted, that they buy into the bargain even though they are often the only ones who did not make a choice. I can't think of another group of adults other than the adopted who are treated differently and without recourse - under privacy law or any other law - due to an order of that law. Their entire life is defined by the adoption, down to their genes. The parents may or may not be scarred, the fear that they may be shattered may be a general assumption, a stereotype. Even if they are ashamed, when else does law protects one person's shame over identity and all the host of things that go along with it. Further, it might not even be about shame. Birth parents may be indifferent or unable to define the resolution they want or regret what they could now think of an an irresponsibility of the past. Not triggering a form of due process treats all these issues as two-dimensional and the now adults involved as permanently tied to the past. Where else does law do that?
People live and and grow. Facts change. Not having due process to assess those facts as they presently stand between adults is unfair.