Adoption records should be unsealed, adoptee argues

A St. Stephen woman, who was adopted as a child, hopes to persuade the provincial government to unseal adoption records during a public meeting on the proposal in Saint John tonight.

Jo-Ann MacCready will make presentation tonight on provincial government proposal to open records

A woman from St. Stephen will make a public presentation in Saint John tonight aimed at persuading the New Brunswick government to unseal its adoption records.

Jo-Ann MacCready, who was adopted as a child, says the province denied her access to her original birth certificate.

Jo-Ann MacCready, who was adopted as a child, thinks the New Brunswick government should unseal adoption records. (CBC)
She spent 25 years searching for her birth mother, only to find out she died in Alberta in 2002.

"I’ll never be able to tell her I’m a reasonable person, I’m a good person, I’m not mean, I’m kind, I care about my family and I’ve always cared about my family. I’ll never be able to tell her that I loved her all my life," she said.

The New Brunswick government has been holding a series of meetings across the province, seeking public input on its proposal to open sealed adoption records.

The final meeting is tonight at the Holiday Inn Express at 400 Main St., from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Under the current Family Services Act, adoption records are sealed and the identities of children, birth parents and adoptive parents are protected. An adopted child and parent must both request information to allow them to make contact.

Under the proposal, the department would open sealed adoption records to give adult adoptees ​who apply a copy of their original birth registration with their birth name and the names of their biological parents.

Biological parents could also apply after the adoptee's 19th birthday to obtain a copy of the adoption order, which would include the adoptee’s name following adoption.

I want to know who I am, where I came from, who my family is, who my tribe is.- Jo-Ann MacCready

Release of the information would not require the consent of the other party.

MacCready says when she started having her own children and grandchildren she felt an urgency to discover her personal history.

"I want to know what everyone else knows about their own life — I want to know who I am, where I came from, who my family is, who my tribe is," she said.

"I grew up in a good family here locally, but they're not my family. They're not, they're not my tribe. Their story is not my story."

Another proposal by the provincial government would allow individuals involved in adoptions to have the option to file a disclosure veto prior to any changes being enacted, which is done in other jurisdictions that already allow the opening of sealed adoption records.

Mailed or emailed submissions on the proposal to unseal adoption records will be accepted until May 30.

The Department of Social Development will compile and analyze all public input and prepare a recommendation for the government, Minister Madeleine Dubé has said. The timeline has not been indicated.


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