By Pennie Redmile
Adoption in Montreal
Quebec is still quite "closed" when it comes to open adoption records. In 1986, the Government relaxed the then existing law to allow adoptees & birth parents the opportunity of contact, if both sides were looking for each other. Failing that, either side could request a search.
"Batshaw" is the name of the social service agency that handles the adoption searches in Montreal . They, alone, have access to adoption records. When a person contacts Batshaw, requesting a search to locate a birth family/adoptee, their name will be placed onm a waiting list. The records are divided into two groups, Protestant & Roman Catholic. The Roman Catholic search will take a fairly short time, perhaps a few months. The Protestants, however must wait for years. with few exceptions , such as advanced age of a birth mom in search of a child, or a serious health problem (life endangering). The Government of Quebec has not hired sufficient social workers to handle the number of requests they receive. At the point where the person is told a search will be started, they are requested to submit a fee of $450. (If one hasn't the money, Batshaw will request "proof" and if satisfied, the fee is lowered to $50.). Then they will conduct a search for the wherabouts of the person being sought. Once found, the person will be asked if they want contact & if the answer is "no", the case is closed. If "yes" Batshaw will handle the reunion.
Individuals have been trying to find ways to by-pass Batshaw but it is a difficult process. One man, Andre Desauliniers has been single handedly fighting for open records for several years. Information about Andre can be found on the Parent Finder 's Montreal website.
Some years ago Pat Danielson was frustrated in her personal search & this led to the re-birth of a Parent Finders group in Montreal . Pat continues to devote many hours each week to helping helping people.
The Parent Finders website can be found at http://home.primus.ca/~pfmtl/ and is the brainchild of Andre Vandal (webmaster), who, along with Dawn Upfold(writer) have posted an excellent description and guide for researching adoptions. Everything a researcher needs to know about adoptions in Quebec - can be found on the Parent Finders website, including forms.
One giant difficulty, results from the fact that many adoptions were handled privately. In rural areas doctors and clergymen often posed as "go-betweens" placing children with families and they kept no records making it next to impossible today for adoptees or birth families to find each other. The social service depts were never aware of these adoptions. The children were legally adopted by the adopting parents.. but there is no paper trail to the birth mother.
In the 1940's and up until 1954 when the principals were arrested, there was a black market baby ring in Montreal...whereby babies were sold to Jewish couples who wanted to adopt. No records survive though the children who went to USA have fictitious birth names.
My own interest is with a group of adoptees who were born in the Brome-Missisquoi-Perkins (BMP) hospital in Cowansville (Sweetsburg) Quebec. The Anglican Minister, Rev. John Peacock handled these & found homes for the children. Rev Peacock's records do not survive and one of the adoptees has a website whereby other children in this group (birth moms too) may post their information. The website is http://www.members.shaw.ca/pboq/ and the webmaster is Brian Quillinan. We've had several reunions to date.
Please read over the Parent Finders Montreal website if you have questions, as the data posted there covers everything.
The Government is talking
of opening the records - and we can hope this will become a reality very