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Monday, May 6, 2013

Nova Scotia Adoptees call for change

NS adult adoptees call for access to family history

HALIFAX — Some adult adoptees are raising concerns over closed adoption records in Nova Scotia, saying that cuts off access to their cultural background and family health history.
Nova Scotia’s Adoption Information Act prevents adult adoptees from getting information about their birth parents without their consent.
“I strongly believe that’s a violation of my human right to know my identity and my cultural background,” said Kate Foster.
Foster, who’s a black Nova Scotian, was adopted into a white family when she was an infant. She says she feels the province’s policy prevented her from knowing her cultural heritage.
“My birth father is my link to my black heritage, I’ve always wanted to know about it, it’s extremely important to my self-worth and my sense of identity.”
Foster first applied for information about her birth parents when she was in her 20′s, but since her birth mother wouldn’t consent to releasing information, she couldn’t get any details on her father’s identity.
Since then, she’s appealed the decision, tried to search for her father on her own, even enlisted the help of an investigator, all to no avail.
“It shouldn’t be so hard to find out about yourself.”
Marilyn MacDonald-MacKinnon spent 30 years trying to get more information about her birth parents.
“I need to know who I come from, I need to know that for me,” she said.
MacDonald-MacKinnon says she especially needs her medical history, which, under the current act, is information she can’t access without her birth parents’ consent. She says that law has already put her family’s health at risk.
“My daughter, two years ago, almost died, and there was no explanation for what happened to her, but the first question the doctor asked is:  'is there a history?’ and I couldn’t answer that.”
She says the adoption act is “archaic” and needs to change.
While the province’s Community Services minister says her government is not considering amendments to the act, Denise Peterson-Rafuse conceded there might be room for some change.
“If there is a way that we can pursue this, that does not give up (birth parents’) privacy, but at the same time provides the factual information that’s needed with respect to health, there isn’t any reason why we cannot have an opportunity to look at that,” she said.
The minister said her department will be looking at how other jurisdictions have handled the “health aspect.”
So far four provinces and one territory have adopted open adoption records in the country. They are: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Yukon.

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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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