MLA Donna Barnett is speaking out on why she thinks British Columbia’s adoption laws should be reformed. In a letter to the Free Press on May 16, Barnett announced that she will be reintroducing her Adoption Amendment Act to ensure that consenting adults have the freedom to define their family relationships in B.C.
Barnett explained that the current adoption act makes it challenging and costly for adults to be included in the process.
“To me that’s wrong,” she said.
Barnett explained that this particular issue came to light after a constituent told her about a lady in her thirties who was seeking adoption by the family that raised her.
“They’ve been like parents to her. I don’t think they met her until she was nineteen, so she was already an adult and they became a family. I guess she never had one… She would like to complete her life by having this adoption done,” said Barnett. “People can’t afford to go through the court system and the lawyers. To me, there’s no reason why when you become the age of nineteen, all of a sudden you can’t go through the same adoption process as other provinces.”
Barnett isn’t sure why the adoption act differs in B.C. but says that perhaps it’s because no one ever brought the issue up.
“Once I talked to my constituents and heard the story, that’s why I put the private member’s bill up once. The government did nothing with it so I put it back up again and hopefully, they will do something with it.”
Barnett explained that she has put a private member’s bill on the legislative floor where it will see the first reading. It is up to the legislative assembly whether or not the amendment moves forward.
Barnett first put up a private member’s bill for her Adoption Amendment Act in 2017, but the bill only made it through a first reading.
“When you really think about it, it is kind of a sad situation,” said Barnett. She says there are all sorts of things that the amendment can help cover.
She provided a few examples. If an adult mother is adopted and passes away, for example, then an adult adoption would ensure her children have a family.
Or, if one becomes a foster parent to someone in their early teens, that child may soon age out of the system. It takes a long time for people to meld into each other’s lives, said Barnett, and the adoption process is long, too.
“Unless you’ve got a lot of time and money, you can’t do it,” says Barnett.
She hopes that her amendment will help ease these challenges, providing the same adoption processes to adults that currently exists for minors.
She is confident that many British Columbians could benefit from the proposed changes.
“I’m sure there’s many, many more [people] out there,” she said. “Contact me, send me a letter. It would be very useful. Even if it’s only 12 people now, down the road who knows.”
She hopes that residents will continue to approach her with issues that matter to them.
“What’s interesting about this is there are lots of issues like this that people hold onto or keep to themselves. I think it’s wise, it doesn’t matter what issue it is, to contact the MLA office and have a discussion. Maybe there’s something that can be done.”