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P.E.I. won’t hold inquiry into adoptions

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P.E.I. won't hold an inquiry into

The province won’t hold a public inquiry into past adoption practices, despite a request from a woman who says her mother was forced to give her up.

A spokeswoman for the Community Services Department confirmed Premier Robert Ghiz received a letter asking for an inquiry to look into claims of unethical treatment of unwed mothers, which sometimes led to forced adoptions between the 1950s and 1970s.

In a statement from Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty, she said the province doesn’t expect to launch an inquiry because individuals are responsible for looking into past adoptions.

“Prince Edward Island legislation supports individuals seeking information about their adoption,” she said.   

Last week a class-action lawsuit was filed against the B.C. government alleging fraud, coercion and abductions related to adoptions from unwed mothers between the 1940s and 1990s.

More lawsuits are expected in other provinces.

Rona Smith, P.E.I.’s director of child and family services, said she couldn’t speak to the way the system used to be run, but did say the province offers counseling to parents so they are aware of their options and rights.

“They have to be able to give fully informed consent on a voluntary basis,” she said.

There are cases when an adoption wouldn’t be voluntary, but they would go through child protective services, Smith said.

“A child may become legally free through the courts under the child protection program.”

Smith said parents can also voluntarily surrender their rights to a child through child protective services, but there are strict guidelines that have to be followed.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

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