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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Brunswick pressured to unseal adoption records



Thousands of people are waiting for the provincial government to unseal adoption records
CBC News | Mar 10, 2015  

People trying to open adoption records in New Brunswick say the process has stalled under the new Liberal government.


Garth McCrea, the chair of the Coalition for Open Adoption Records, said he has been trying for three years to get the law changed so that these records can be unsealed. (Facebook)

Garth McCrea, the chair of the Coalition for Open Adoption Records, said he has been trying for three years to get the law changed so these records can be unsealed.
He said the previous Progressive Conservative government held public consultations last year about the proposed change. He said they were ready to move ahead and have a new law in place by now.
However, McCrea said the election in September of the Liberal government has put everything on hold.
McCrea said he's frustrated that the file seems to be forgotten because of the government's priority on public finances.
"I'm 50 years old, I'm an adoptee. The information has been kept from me for 50 years," he said.
"I'm a pretty patient man, I've been at this for well over three years so I know in terms of government making change that these things can take time."
New Brunswick's refusal to unseal adoption records is hampering many people from trying to reconnect with birth parents or their adopted children.
Edmonton's Susan Cockle is seeking help in New Brunswick to track down her birth parents, nearly 50 years after she was adopted in Moncton. She is making the public request for assistance because she cannot access her adoption records.
The Coalition for Open Adoption Records is being supported by many other similar groups. McCrea said he has members from across Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, who want New Brunswick to open up its adoption records.
He said all New Brunswick has to do is to adopt the rules that already exist in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador or some of the western provinces.

Children search for birth parents


Susan Cockle has taken out advertisements in Moncton in the hopes of finding her birth parents. Groups say the New Brunswick government should open up adoption records. (Submitted by Susan Cockle)
There are many other New Brunswick cases where people are advocating for the opening of these records.
Kathy Reid was born Carol Joy Marina Stewart at the Salvation Army-run Evangeline Home for unwed mothers in Saint John in 1956.
She was adopted in 1958 and when her adoptive parents died in 1962, she was sent to live in Ontario with a guardian. She grew up with another adopted child, her stepbrother.
He was born in Ontario and has access to his birth parents.
Reid and all other adopted children born in Quebec and the Maritimes don't have that right because those provinces continue to seal adoption records.
Reid said she's frustrated by the pace of change in New Brunswick and she wrote to Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers in January.
The minister responded in February to say the department is still evaluating the information.
Rogers said the opening of adoption records is an extremely personal matter for individuals and the government must ensure the interest of all parties is taken into consideration with any proposed legislative change.

Heart-wrenching cases

Marie Crouse, the president of Parent Finders New Brunswick, said this policy of sealing adoption records affects thousands of people.
Parent Finders is a private group that is trying to put adopted children in touch with their birth parents.
She said just in her database she has roughly 4,500 people who were adopted who are actively searching for their birth parents.
She has another 850 birth parents or relatives who are looking for the child that was put up for adoption
Crouse says there are heart-wrenching cases.  
"Right now, I am researching an adopted man who married his blood sister, had a baby boy who is severely mentally handicapped because they were brother and sister," she said.
"They did not know this when they were married."



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