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The adopted child’s right to know one’s origins in France and in Quebec

Laurence Brunet, Michelle Giroux

Research Framework: The study focuses on the right to know one’s origins of the adopted child from a comparative law perspective.

Objectives: The objective of the research is to provide an analysis of the French law, dating from January 22, 2002, and the 2017 law in Quebec, both of which provide adopted people access to the identity of their parents of origin.

Methodology: This study mainly uses a positivist methodology of legal research analyzing legislation, case law and legal literature, as well as comparative law (France/Quebec).

Results: Research shows that both France and Québec have sought to reconsider the place in history of the adopted child by substituting the principle of secrecy of their origins for a logic favouring transparency. Yet the balance between children and their birth parents often tilts in favour of the latter who can prevent the secret from being released, sometimes even until after death.

Conclusions: The relaxation of the law towards more transparency is a step in the right direction. The exercise seems however unfinished as long as the question of the right to identity (including the origins), recognized in particular by the UN Convention in regards to the rights of the Child, of adoptees and those conceived through medically assisted reproduction will not be discussed as part of a comprehensive law reform.

Contribution: Through an analysis of the positive law in force in France and Quebec on the accessibility of adopted people to their origins, this text will help to understand the issues relating to this question and the difficult arbitration between the interests of adopted children and their birth parents. It also opens up a reflection on the accessibility of children born by medically assisted procreation to their origins.