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On 14 July 2015, the Supreme Court of B.C. handed down an unprecedented judgment J.P. v. British Columbia (Children and Family Development), 2015 BCSC 1216. This is the first case in Canadian legal history in which child protection workers are found liable for misfeasance in public office, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the standard of care. Findings therein confirm our views and support the merit of our cause. Continuous litigations between JP and the MCFD are summarized in JP Aftermath. Our commentary on the Plecas Review Part 1: Decision Time was published on 4 January 2016. If you have evidence of misfeasance or abuse of children in foster care, please come forward and contact us.
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Qp Date

Adoption Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 5

Contents
Part 1 — Introductory Provisions
1 Definitions
2 Purpose of the Act
3 Best interests of child
Part 2 — The Process Leading to Adoption
Division 1 — Placement for Adoption
4 Who may place a child for adoption
5 Who may receive a child for adoption
6 Before placement by a director or an adoption agency
7 Discussion with aboriginal communities
8 Before a direct placement
9 Conditions on direct placement
10 Birth fathers' registry
11 Dispensing with notice of proposed adoption
12 Notice of placement
Division 2 — Consents
13 Who must consent to adoption
14 Birth mother's consent
15 Birth parents under 19 years of age
16 Form of consent to adoption
17 Dispensing with consent
18 Revocation of consents before placement by a director or an adoption agency
19 Revocation of birth mother's consent within 30 days of birth
20 Revocation of child's consent
21 Revocation of consents given outside British Columbia
22 Court revocation of consents after placement
Division 3 — Care, Custody and Guardianship
23 Transfer of care and custody to a director or an adoption agency
24 When a director or an adoption agency becomes guardian
25 Transfer of care and custody by a director or an adoption agency
26 Transfer of care and custody in direct placement adoptions
27 What care and custody includes
28 Joint guardianship in direct placement adoptions
Part 3 — Court Proceedings
29 Who may apply to adopt a child
30 A younger child's views
31 Notice of application
32 Required documents
33 Post-placement report
34 Court ordered reports
35 Adoption order
36 Change of name
37 Effect of adoption order
38 Effect on access order or agreement
39 Notice of adoption order
40 When an adoption order may be set aside
41 Hearings may be private
42 If birth parent and new parent do not know each other's identity
43 Confidentiality of court files
44 Adoption of adults
45 Duties of the registrar
46 Custom adoptions
47 Adoptions outside British Columbia
Part 4 — Interprovincial and Intercountry Adoptions
Division 1 — Interprovincial Adoptions and Intercountry Adoptions Outside the Scope of the Hague Convention
48 Before a child is brought into British Columbia for adoption
49 Exceptions
Division 2 — Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions
50 Definitions
51 Convention is law in British Columbia
52 Central Authority
53 Authority of foreign bodies
54 Authority to act abroad
55 Conversion of adoptions
56 Disclosure of information
57 Publication of Convention and effective date
Part 5 — Openness and Disclosure
58 Definitions
59 Openness agreements
60 Post-adoption openness
61 Disclosure in the interest of a child
62 Disclosure when an aboriginal child is under 19
63 Disclosure to adopted person 19 or over
64 Disclosure to birth parent when adopted person is 19 or over
65 Disclosure veto and statement
66 No-contact declaration and statement
67 Applicant must comply with Vital Statistics Act
68 Contact by a director
69 Mutual exchange of identifying information
70 Director's right to information
70.1 Director's authority to collect information
71 Search and reunion services
72 Sharing of information with adoption agencies
73 Restriction on use and disclosure of certain information
74 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Part 6 — Administrative and Legal Issues
75 Transfer of care, custody and guardianship
76 Minister's authority to make agreements
76.1 Designation of directors
77 Director's power to delegate
77.1 Agreements between directors
78 Inspection of records
79 Protection from liability
80 Financial assistance
81 References in other Acts
Part 7 — Offences and Penalties
82 Contravening placement requirements
83 Contravening interprovincial or intercountry adoption requirements
84 Paying or accepting payment for an adoption
85 Advertising
86 Making a false statement
87 Contravening a no-contact undertaking
88 Releasing confidential information for an unauthorized purpose
89 Offence Act
90 Limitation period
Part 8 — Regulations
91 General regulation making power
92 Adoption agency regulations
93 Regulations about the birth fathers' registry and other registrations
Part 9 — Transitional Provisions
94 Transition from former Act — general rule
95 Application of the former Act
96 Consents under the former Act
97 Homestudies under the former Act
98 Director's reports
99 Continuation of vetoes
100 Continuation of registrations

Part 1 — Introductory Provisions

Definitions

1 In this Act:

"aboriginal child" means a child

(a) who is registered under the Indian Act (Canada),

(b) who has a biological parent who is registered under the Indian Act (Canada),

(b.1) who is a Nisga'a child,

(b.2) who is a treaty first nation child,

(c) who is under 12 years of age and has a biological parent who

(i) is of aboriginal ancestry, and

(ii) considers himself or herself to be aboriginal, or

(d) who is 12 years of age or older, of aboriginal ancestry and considers himself or herself to be aboriginal;

"aboriginal community" means an aboriginal community designated by the minister;

"administrator" means the chief executive officer of an adoption agency or another officer of an adoption agency designated by the agency for the purposes of this Act;

"adoption agency" means a society licensed in accordance with the regulations;

"birth father" means a child's biological father;

"birth fathers' registry" means the registry referred to in section 10;

"birth mother" means a child's biological mother;

"birth parent" means a birth father or a birth mother;

"chief executive officer" means the chief executive officer under the Vital Statistics Act;

"child" means an unmarried person under 19 years of age;

"Convention" means the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption;

"court" means the Supreme Court of British Columbia;

"designated representative", when used in relation to the Nisga'a Lisims Government, an Indian band, an aboriginal community or a treaty first nation, means a representative designated in accordance with the regulations;

"direct placement" means the action of a birth parent or other guardian of a child placing the child for adoption with one or 2 adults, none of whom is a relative of the child;

"director" means a person designated as a director of adoption under section 76.1 (1) (a) and the Provincial director;

"extra-provincial agency" means an official or agency located outside British Columbia and having substantially similar powers as a director in respect of guardianship;

"guardian" means the guardian of the child's person;

"Indian band" means a band as defined in the Indian Act (Canada) and includes a band council;

"Nisga'a child" has the same meaning as in the Nisga'a Final Agreement;

"Nisga'a Final Agreement" has the same meaning as in the Nisga'a Final Agreement Act;

"Nisga'a Lisims Government" has the same meaning as in the Nisga'a Final Agreement;

"Nisga'a Nation" has the same meaning as in the Nisga'a Final Agreement;

"Nisga'a Village" has the same meaning as in the Nisga'a Final Agreement;

"openness agreement" means an agreement made under section 59;

"post-placement report" means a report to court prepared by the director or an adoption agency;

"Provincial director" means the person designated as the Provincial director under section 76.1 (1) (b);

"relative" means a person related to another by birth or adoption;

"treaty first nation", in relation to a treaty first nation child, means the treaty first nation of which the child is a treaty first nation child.

Part 2 — The Process Leading to Adoption

Division 1 — Placement for Adoption

Before placement by a director or an adoption agency

6 (1) Before placing a child for adoption, a director or an adoption agency must

(a) provide information about adoption and the alternatives to adoption to the birth parent or other guardian requesting placement,

(b) if the birth parent or other guardian requesting placement wishes to select the child's prospective adoptive parents, provide the birth parent or other guardian with information about prospective adoptive parents who have been approved on the basis of a homestudy completed in accordance with the regulations,

(c) obtain as much information as possible about the medical and social history of the child's biological family and preserve the information for the child,

(d) give the prospective adoptive parents information about the medical and social history of the child's biological family,

(e) make sure that the child,

(i) if sufficiently mature, has been counselled about the effects of adoption, and

(ii) if 12 years of age or over, has been informed about the right to consent to the adoption,

(f) make reasonable efforts to obtain any consents required under section 13, and

(g) make reasonable efforts to give notice of the proposed adoption to

(i) anyone who is named by the birth mother as the child's birth father if his consent is not required under section 13, and

(ii) anyone who is registered under section 10 in the birth fathers' registry in respect of the proposed adoption.

(2) A director or an adoption agency may only place a child for adoption with prospective adoptive parents who have been approved on the basis of a homestudy.

Division 2 — Consents

Who must consent to adoption

13 (1) The consent of each of the following is required for a child's adoption:

(a) the child, if 12 years of age or over;

(b) the birth mother;

(c) the father;

(d) any person appointed as the child's guardian.

(2) For the purpose of giving consent to adoption, the child's father is anyone who

(a) has acknowledged paternity by signing the child's birth registration,

(b) is or was the child's guardian or joint guardian with the birth mother,

(c) has acknowledged paternity and has custody or access rights to the child by court order or by agreement,

(d) has acknowledged paternity and has supported, maintained or cared for the child, voluntarily or under a court order,

(e) has acknowledged paternity and is named by the birth mother as the child's father, or

(f) is acknowledged by the birth mother as the father and is registered on the birth fathers' registry as the child's father.

(3) If the child is in the continuing custody of a director under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, or a director under that Act is the child's guardian under the Family Relations Act, the only consents required are

(a) that director's consent, and

(b) the child's consent, if required under subsection (1).

(4) If a child who has been adopted is to be adopted again, the consent of a person who became a parent at the time of the previous adoption is required, instead of the consent of a person who ceased to have any parental rights and responsibilities at that time.

(5) If a child has been placed for adoption by an extra-provincial agency and the law of the jurisdiction in which the agency is located is that only the consent of the agency is required for the child's adoption, that consent and any consent required of the child under subsection (1) are the only consents required.

Division 3 — Care, Custody and Guardianship

Part 3 — Court Proceedings

Effect of adoption order

37 (1) When an adoption order is made,

(a) the child becomes the child of the adoptive parent,

(b) the adoptive parent becomes the parent of the child, and

(c) the birth parents cease to have any parental rights or obligations with respect to the child, except a birth parent who remains under subsection (2) a parent jointly with the adoptive parent.

(2) If the application for the adoption order was made by an adult to become a parent jointly with a birth parent of the child, then, for all purposes when the adoption order is made,

(a) the adult joins the birth parent as parent of the child, and

(b) the child's other birth parent ceases to have any parental rights or obligations with respect to the child.

(3) If a child is adopted for a second or subsequent time, the adoption order has the same effect on the child, on the new adoptive parent and on the former adoptive parent as it does on the child, on the adoptive parent and on the birth parents or parent under subsections (1) and (2).

(4) Subsections (1) to (3) do not apply for the purposes of the laws relating to incest and the prohibited degrees of marriage.

(5) The family relationships of one person to another are to be determined in accordance with this section, unless this or another enactment specifically otherwise provides or distinguishes between persons related by birth and persons related by adoption.

(6) An adoption order does not affect an interest in property or a right of the adopted child that vested in the child before the date of the adoption order.

(7) An adoption order does not affect any aboriginal rights the child has.

Part 4 — Interprovincial and Intercountry Adoptions

Division 1 — Interprovincial Adoptions and Intercountry Adoptions Outside the Scope of the Hague Convention

Division 2 — Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions

Part 5 — Openness and Disclosure

Disclosure when an aboriginal child is under 19

62 (1) A director or an adoption agency may, in a child's best interests, disclose to a prospective adoptive parent or an adoptive parent of an aboriginal child any of the following:

(a) the name and location of an Indian band, if the child is registered or entitled to be registered as a member of the band;

(b) the name and location of an aboriginal community, if the child is an aboriginal child and a birth parent of the child identified that community;

(c) the location of the Nisga'a Lisims Government, if the child is a Nisga'a child;

(d) the name and location of the treaty first nation, if the child is a treaty first nation child.

(2) A director may, in a child's best interests and with the written consent of the child's adoptive parents, disclose identifying information so that an aboriginal child can be contacted by the following:

(a) if the child is registered or entitled to be registered as a member of an Indian band, by a designated representative of the band;

(a.1) if the child is a Nisga'a child, by a designated representative of the Nisga'a Lisims Government;

(a.2) if the child is a treaty first nation child, by a designated representative of the treaty first nation;

(b) if the child is not a treaty first nation child and is neither registered nor entitled to be registered as a member of an Indian band, by a designated representative of an aboriginal community that has been identified

(i) by the child, if 12 years of age or over, or

(ii) by a birth parent of the child, if the child is under 12 years of age.

(3) In exercising his or her power under subsection (2), the director may dispense with any consent required by this section if the adoption has broken down or it is not practical to obtain consent.

Disclosure veto and statement

65 (1) Either of the following may apply to the chief executive officer to file a written veto prohibiting the disclosure of a birth registration or other record under section 63 or 64:

(a) an adopted person who is 18 years of age or over and was adopted under any predecessor to this Act;

(b) a birth parent named on the original birth registration of an adopted person referred to in paragraph (a).

(2) When an applicant complies with section 67 (a), the chief executive officer must file the disclosure veto.

(3) A person who files a disclosure veto may file with it a written statement that includes any of the following:

(a) the reasons for wishing not to disclose any identifying information;

(b) in the case of a birth parent, a brief summary of any available information about the medical and social history of the birth parents and their families;

(c) any other relevant non-identifying information.

(4) When a person applying for a copy of a record is informed that a disclosure veto has been filed, the chief executive officer must give the person the non-identifying information in any written statement filed with the disclosure veto.

(5) A person who files a disclosure veto may cancel the veto at any time by notifying, in writing, the chief executive officer.

(6) Unless cancelled under subsection (5), a disclosure veto continues in effect until 2 years after the death of the person who filed the veto.

(7) While a disclosure veto is in effect, the chief executive officer must not disclose any information that is in a record applied for under section 63 or 64 and that relates to the person who filed the veto.

No-contact declaration and statement

66 (1) A birth parent who is named in an original birth registration and who wishes not to be contacted by the person named as the child in the registration may apply to the chief executive officer to file a written no-contact declaration.

(2) An adopted person 18 years of age or over who wishes not to be contacted by a birth parent named on a birth registration may apply to the chief executive officer to file a written no-contact declaration.

(3) When an applicant under subsection (1) or (2) complies with section 67 (a), the chief executive officer must file the no-contact declaration.

(4) The chief executive officer must not give a person to whom a no-contact declaration relates a copy of a birth registration or other record naming the person who filed the declaration unless the person applying has signed an undertaking in the prescribed form.

(5) A person who is named in a no-contact declaration and has signed an undertaking under subsection (4) must not

(a) knowingly contact or attempt to contact the person who filed the declaration,

(b) procure another person to contact the person who filed the declaration,

(c) use information obtained under this Act to intimidate or harass the person who filed the declaration, or

(d) procure another person to intimidate or harass, by the use of information obtained under this Act, the person who filed the declaration.

(6) A person who files a no-contact declaration may file with it a written statement that includes any of the following:

(a) the reasons for wishing not to be contacted;

(b) in the case of a birth parent, a brief summary of any available information about the medical and social history of the birth parents and their families;

(c) any other relevant non-identifying information.

(7) When a person to whom a no-contact declaration relates is given a copy of a birth registration under section 63 or 64, the chief executive officer must give the person applying the information in any written statement filed with the declaration.

(8) A person who files a no-contact declaration may cancel the declaration at any time by notifying, in writing, the chief executive officer.

Search and reunion services

71 (1) An adult who has obtained a record under section 63 or 64 or who was adopted under a law of a treaty first nation apply to the Provincial director for assistance in locating any of the following:

(a) if the applicant is an adopted person,

(i) a birth parent of the applicant,

(ii) an adult adopted sibling of the applicant, or

(iii) if a birth parent of the applicant is dead, an adult birth sibling of the applicant;

(b) if the applicant is a birth parent, an adult adopted child of the applicant.

(2) A birth parent who signed a consent to the adoption of a child may apply to the Provincial director for assistance in locating the child, if the child is 19 years of age or over.

(3) After the death of an adult who, as a child, was adopted under this Act, any predecessor to this Act or a law of a treaty first nation, any of the following may apply to the Provincial director:

(a) an adult child or adult grandchild of the deceased;

(b) if a child of the deceased is under 19 years of age, the child's surviving parent or guardian.

(4) An applicant under subsection (3) must provide a copy of the deceased's death certificate and may apply for assistance in locating

(a) a birth parent of the deceased,

(b) an adult adopted sibling of the deceased, or

(c) if the deceased's birth parent is dead, an adult birth sibling of the deceased.

(5) After the death of a birth parent whose child, who is an adult, was adopted under this Act, any predecessor to this Act or a law of a treaty first nation, another adult child of the deceased may apply to the Provincial director for assistance in locating the applicant's adopted birth sibling.

(6) An applicant under subsection (5) must provide a copy of the deceased's death certificate.

(7) No one is entitled to assistance under this section in locating a person who has filed a disclosure veto or a no-contact declaration.

(8) Subject to the regulations, the Provincial director may provide the assistance requested by an applicant under subsections (1) to (6).

(9) If a person located by the Provincial director wishes not to be contacted by an applicant, the Provincial director must not disclose any information identifying the name or location of the person.

(10) If a person located by the Provincial director wishes to be contacted by an applicant, the Provincial director may assist them to meet or to communicate.

(11) The Provincial director must inform an applicant if the person whom the applicant requested assistance in locating wishes not to be contacted, is dead or cannot be located.

Part 6 — Administrative and Legal Issues

Part 7 — Offences and Penalties

Part 8 — Regulations

General regulation making power

91 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) respecting when a person is or is not to be considered a resident of British Columbia for the purposes of this Act;

(a.1) defining, for the purposes of this Act and the regulations, words or expressions used but not defined in this Act;

(b) designating representatives of the Nisga'a Lisims Government, treaty first nations, Indian bands and aboriginal communities;

(c) respecting how notice is to be given under section 8 (1);

(d) respecting the efforts to be made by a director or an adoption agency to notify birth parents or other guardians about whether their children have been placed for adoption;

(e) respecting adoption consents and the witnessing of consents;

(f) respecting homestudies, pre-placement assessments and post-placement reports;

(g) respecting the persons who are authorized to meet with a child for the purposes of making a report under section 30 (2);

(h) prescribing additional information to be filed with the court under section 32;

(i) limiting or varying the application of the law of British Columbia to an adoption in British Columbia to which the Convention applies;

(j) designating the competent authorities for any provision of the Convention;

(k) respecting the disclosure of information concerning the origin of a person adopted in accordance with the Convention;

(l) specifying how, by whom and the circumstances under which disclosure vetoes and no-contact declarations may be filed on behalf of persons who are incapable of filing them for themselves;

(m) governing the disclosure of information by the Provincial director under section 71;

(n) authorizing a director to enter into any form of agreement for the purposes of this Act and prescribing some or all of the contents of those agreements;

(o) governing the review of decisions made by a director or an adoption agency;

(p) respecting any condition on a director delegating any power, duty or function under this Act;

(q) respecting eligibility for financial assistance or other assistance under section 80, the forms of assistance and the terms to be included in assistance agreements;

(r) allowing prospective adoptive parents to pay expenses of birth parents and specifying the types of expenses and limiting the amounts of those expenses;

(s) specifying other persons who are exempt from section 84 (1) (prohibiting payment for an adoption) or specifying any circumstances under which a person is exempt from section 84 (1);

(t) respecting other forms of advertising that are exempt from section 85 (prohibiting certain advertising);

(u) governing the payment of fees for applications, licences, registrations or other things done under this Act;

(v) prescribing forms, documents and reports for the purposes of this Act;

(w) respecting any matters necessary for more effectively bringing into operation the provisions of this Act and for obviating any transitional difficulties encountered in doing so.

(3) In making a regulation under this Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may provide differently for different categories of adoptions or different classes of persons.

Adoption agency regulations

92 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) respecting the licensing of societies as adoption agencies;

(b) specifying conditions to be met and maintained by a society to obtain and retain a licence, including conditions relating to the content of its constitution and bylaws, the composition of its board of directors, the qualifications of directors and officers and the election or appointment of directors;

(c) respecting the suspension and cancellation of licences of adoption agencies;

(d) respecting the standards to be met by adoption agencies;

(e) respecting the information, documents and reports adoption agencies are required to submit to the Provincial director, the frequency of the submissions and the inspection of the information, documents and reports by the Provincial director or other person designated by the regulations;

(f) respecting the contents of advertisements and other promotional material that may be used by adoption agencies;

(g) respecting the surrender of records, accounts or other documents and information by adoption agencies to the Provincial director;

(h) setting the fees or other expenses adoption agencies may charge for services and prohibiting adoption agencies from charging fees or expenses for specified services;

(i) respecting any other matter necessary for the proper operation, management, administration and accountability of adoption agencies.

(2) If a regulation made under subsection (1) (b) conflicts with a provision of the Society Act, the regulation prevails.

Part 9 — Transitional Provisions