NS adult adoptees call for access to family 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.” “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.