Thursday, September 20, 2007

If you ever wondered....

.....why I am so convinced that things have to change with adoption you only have to look at the newspapers to know why.

Yesterday the Ontario Superior Court struck down the new Ontario Adoption Disclosure Act that allows for all adoptees and birth parents to have access to their original long form birth certificate. The Liberal government had worked very hard for a long long time to work out the problems with this law. It included provisions to protect adoptees from foster care who did not want their new identities revealed to people who may have been convicted of abusing them, yet still allowed those same adoptees to know their past history and other relatives if they so chose.

It included no contact provisions for those few tiny number of adoptees and birth parents who wished no contact. It was simple and it was easy and it worked.

And it's gone, (short of an appeal win), all because the judge was incapable of understanding that no birth mothers or fathers were ever promised closed records or privacy. Hell, my adoption order contains my full birth name including my real last name and was issued to my adoptive parents. All the adoption orders in the 60's on were like that. So if we do the math, every birth mother for the last 47 years knew that this day would come. And since many of them didn't put the father's name on the birth certificate, the only way to find out who the father is, is to contact them directly.

The whole court case is completely illogical. I was appalled at the quotes in the paper from Clayton Ruby, the lawyer who took it to the Superior Court to quash it. According to interviews he did, his nightmare scenario is a 35 year old Catholic woman who gave up a child at 15 after after having premarital sex, and now is terrified that she will be found by her 20 year old child. Only one problem with his logic----any woman who gave up a child for adoption instead of ending the pregnancy would be turned into a saint by the Catholic church these days. And let's count back to twenty years shall we? 1987 people, hardly a big deal to be a single mother then. Every girl I knew in my Catholic high school was sexually active by then and not all of them were so careful with birth control.

I had classmates who gave birth that year and got an apartment and welfare and daycare and went to college, kid in tow. (This was pre-Mike Harris years. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't bad either.)

I don't know who these mysterious supposed birth mothers and adoptees are who are "terrified" of being found out, but they certainly haven't done much to protect themselves. Excluding the convicted child abuser cases, there have been few if any "no contact" requests filed. People I know in government are privately laughing at the Privacy Commissioner and her disproportionate concern for these theoretical people. The program has costs hundreds of thousands to set up and yet no one actually WANTS to be hidden.


Even in the child abuse cases, the adoptees so far all want to find other family members, just not the person who harmed them.

But just for sake of argument, let's ask? Don't parents, even ones who have signed their righs away have a natural obligation to help their children, forever? I think they do. If my sons want to walk away and not talk to me once they become 18, they can, and if they come back and need my help, I have to give it to them. It's what being a parent is. And no, it doesn't go both ways, in reality, children owe nothing to their parents once they are grown. If they have raised their children well, they'll get back all the love and kindness ten fold. If not---well guess what? You reap what you sow.

No one is owed a relationship, but all children are owed their identity, their heritage, their race, their religion, their genetic family history. Mine was erased in seconds, at the stroke of a pen by a judge who never even met me. He replaced it with a lie. Any scientists out there want to comment on how accurate it is to transplant medical history, to literally change someone's genes? Anyone think that a Greek Orthodox child can become Ashkenazi Jewish, like my friend Dani had happen? I can tell you she was bloody confused years later. Or the piece-de-resistance---an adoptee I know was told she was Italian, and in reality was one-half African Canadian. The social workers figured it was better that she never ever know "supposed" shame of being biracial, so they even faked her non-identifying information. She figured it out when she grew up and looked different than her family, so she found her birth parents and got a surprise.

Yes, social workers try their best, but unfortunately their best quite often means not telling the truth in a misguided attempt to protect adoptive families. Records were changed, altered, things left out, like the real father's name, especially if he was a family member and the child was a product of incest. Crimes like sexual abuse never ever reported so that generations of women in the same family were victimized and adoptees were left with the medical damage, but no way of figuring out the truth.

Ahh, but Aurelia, you think, didn't you find your natural mom? Yes, I did, but that doesn't mean I can look at my own birth registration, because I can't. And now the Ontario Superior court has denied me equal treatment under the law compared to those raised by their natural parents. I am being discriminated against on the basis of my family of origin, and on the basis of the circumstances of my birth.

This ruling has permanently infantilized my legal identity, even though I am a legal adult in all other ways in Canada. Even mentally incompetent adults can know who gave birth to them, even though they are not allowed to handle finances, or make decisions about where to live. Criminals are allowed to see their own birth certificates, represent themselves in court, and vote, but they have more rights than me, because I only score 2 out of 3.

My right to know the truth about my own life trumps my ancestors right to privacy. Always has, always will.

For the non-adoptees reading this who are relieved that this won't happen to them, remember something, if they can take my right to security of person away, who's next? Which right will you be asked to sacrifice because Big Brother thinks he knows better?

I'm assuming that I'll be trolled at this point or patronized, people patting my head and telling me that it's all for the best that records are closed. You see, some adoptees who have spoken up online at the Globe & Mail have been attacked and had their comments deleted. If you look at this story you will see a full slate of comments in which an adoptee who wanted the law kept was called a "paranoid, mentally unbalanced" & "a psychotic, platinum plated bitch." This was by a "supposed" birth mom who never wants to be found who also referred to adoptees as "ingrates" to their wonderful adoptive families. Good god, she isn't hiding her true identity as an overly possessive adoptive mother is she? Noooooo, they never pretend to be someone else online *eyeroll*.

If you ever wondered why I hesitate to post what I know about adoption, wonder no more. It's because as a infertile mother of loss, I have feet in both camps, and sometimes in real life, people blurt things out they would never say to my face if they knew I was adopted. It really is like being unintentionally undercover somedays. Things just like the phrase that woman used. I know, YOU all behave on your blogs, and say the right things, but your fellow real life travellers aren't always so careful.

So just call me, another paranoid mentally unbalanced psychotic platinum-plated bitch.

Whoever you are out there, adoptees who are being silenced, I am honoured to stand in solidarity. You are not alone. You have the same rights as your fellow citizens, even if it pisses off everyone else on earth.


  1. Well this particular infertile-adoptee is standing and applauding you! You and I both know the truth, that there are way more adoptees who feel the exact same way as us, than ever come forward for fear of being attacked.

    We've talked to them, we receive their emails, we understand their grief.

    I haven't talked about adoption on my blog for a while, because it EXHAUSTS me so badly. Which is another common sentiment from those who actually do venture forth to speak of their pain or beliefs. People who haven't had to battle for the truth of their very existence, truly just cannot KNOW what an energy syphon the whole experience is.

  2. I think that these people who see themselves as the deciders, look at a position from where they "think" they can sit.

    For instance, if you were never adopted, it's pretty hard to really see yourself in that position. BUT, I think that a lot of people can see themselves having a teenage pregnancy, and think what if. My point being that this commissioner is only thinking about "what if" a child were to come looking for her and disrupt her perfect life.

  3. So, hang on - is that effectively a reversal of current laws?


  4. As you already know, I think this ruling is utter bullshit. Since when does the government protect its citizens from their own bad judgment - or bad luck?

    If you're adult enough to have sex and conceive, then you need to act adult enough to deal with the consequences - and adoption is laudable, but it doesn't erase the fact that you had a child once... a child who is still alive. Do I believe we should be protecting birth parents who don't want their perfect lives disturbed? Obviously not. Give me a fucking break. Birth parents can take two hours out of their lives to provide a medical history and a brief greeting to their children who they created. As in, caused to be brought into this world.

    And never having been in either position (birth parent OR adoptee) I probably don't have the right to criticize... but boy, does this get my blood boiling.

  5. Bea this is keeping current law as is, but also kind of a reversal because of the court precedent.

    The judge's ruling has really screwed things up. Hopefully not too bad. We'll see tomorrow....

  6. When I saw the story on the news, I immediately thought of you and was furious. My husband didn't understand my reaction, so I told him a bit of your story and he was sympathetic. I'm so sorry it's a case of one step forward and two steps back.

  7. Elaine Forbes McCallumSeptember 22, 2007 12:31 am

    There is nothing I can disagree with in the comment. The case can not have been properly presented and argued if a judge could conclude rights are infringed by taking away the right of an adoptee to know his or her birth parents.

    We will get this reversed. The sad thing is that birh parents and siblings and adoptees will die not having their questions answered.

    We are in an election, please please please ask your candidates whether they will put the full resources of the provincial government behind appealing this appalling decision.

    I am a birth mother reunited (by email) four months ago to my daugher adopted in 1969.

  8. This has got to be just about the best post I've read on this yet.

  9. I am in shock reading some of the comments on the Globe sight.

    I wish this law hadn't been overturned. It offered so many of us a little hope. And now it is gone.

  10. Another ridiculous thing is that active searches were stopped last year because this new law was supposed to be implemented.

    Since the law has been quashed, all that remains is the Adoption Disclosure Register. So, essentially, we're at a worse position than we've been in decades.