Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia to tell 86-year-old former foster child who his father is

An 86-year-old Nova Scotia man is getting his wish and will be provided his father's name by the provincial Department of Community Services.

Nova Scotia Community Services agreed to release the name after a lengthy battle

An 86-year-old Nova Scotia man, who was placed in foster care in 1931, will learn the name of his birth father. (Shutterstock)

An 86-year-old Nova Scotia man is getting his wish and will be provided his father's name by the provincial Department of Community Services.

The man, whose identity has not been released, was placed in foster care in May 1931 by his mother and his grandmother. The records only provide a name for the father and no other identifying information.

The man had been unable to get that name from government agencies, until now.

Backed by privacy commissioner

He took his fight to the province's information and privacy commissioner.

In a decision released last month, the commissioner recommended the Department of Community Services give the man the name listed as his father's in his foster records.

That recommendation is not binding, but the department has decided to grant the man's request.

No bearing on other cases

In a statement to CBC News, the department said the decision has no bearing on how it responds to requests for family information from people who were put up for adoption.

"Requests under the Adoption Information Act follow a separate and distinct process," department spokeswoman Heather Fairbairn wrote.

"As a result, this decision has no bearing on the province's adoption disclosure services."

The man had to confirm his mother's identity through DNA testing. (Shutterstock)

Lengthy battle

The man and his daughter have waged a lengthy campaign to figure out the identities of his birth parents.

"The applicant's daughter contacted the regional health authority, Vital Statistics, a number of local churches and a local diocese," privacy commissioner Catherine Tully wrote in her decision last month.

"As a result of these efforts she was able to locate a short form baptismal certificate and obtained confirmation of the applicant's mother's name."

DNA test

However, the mother's name was fairly common, so the man had to go through DNA testing to confirm her identity.

He tracked down a niece, who told him that his mother had subsequently married and had three children. The niece also said the mother died in 1961.

But neither the niece, nor any of his other surviving relatives, were able to shed light on his father's identity. That remained locked in government files. The only extra detail they gained was from the DNA testing, which revealed his father was Jewish. It isn't clear how the testing was able to determine that.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

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