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Published Tuesday June 2nd, 2009 at 7:35pm

Original Article by David Newland

Disclosure: I was put up for adoption on the day of my birth by an unwed mother who could not care for me. I was adopted three months later by a loving couple who provided the family environment I could not have had otherwise. The system, such as it was, worked for me: I've had my challenges, but clearly, I was one of the lucky ones.

I've written about being adopted before and it's no easier to talk about now than it was then. But as Ontario opens its adoption records, I'm compelled to write again.

Ontario's Ministry of Community and Social Services is trying to accommodate both sides of the adoption disclosure debate. On one side are those who feel the right to know - for both adoptees and birth parents - is paramount. On the other side are those who believe the parents who gave up children on condition of secrecy have every right to maintain that secrecy forever. Whether the Access to Adoption Records Act strikes the right balance is an open question.

I honestly don't even know where I stand. For me this is an emotional, not a political or procedural question. I can tell you that it is a kind of purgatory to wait for years before learning anything other than the "non-identifying information" that was available to me as a young adult in the early 90s. Not knowing who my birth parents were, what became of them, and how I wound up at the mercy of the Children's Aid Society were questions that haunted me for years. From that point of view, more openness and less bureaucracy is a welcome change.

It's sad but true that secrecy in the sixties, when I was born, (let alone in the years prior) was the result of a level of social shame that I hope we never see again. Today in Ontario and many other jurisdictions, all adoptions are open adoptions, and that's probably a good thing. At a minimum, knowing your genetic history can aid in monitoring your health and preventing or managing hereditary conditions.

On the other hand, sometimes secrets are kept secret for a reason. Having gone through the process of searching for my birth parents under the previous rules, having conversed with my birth father by phone and met my birth mother in person, I can confirm that. Pregnant girls and women give children up for adoption under many different circumstances. Seldom are they happy ones. Nor does every child wind up in a happy home.

Many adoptees wonder endlessly about their origins, as I did. Many birth-parents worry endlessly about their offspring, as my birth-mother did. Adoptive parents have their questions too. In an ideal world, we'd put an end to the mystery in a way that left adoptees, their parents, and their birth-parents all satisfied and happy.

In the real world, information alone will not bring happiness or wholeness. That takes hard work, self-knowledge, love, support, co-operation among all parties, and plenty of resources. Again, I've been one of the lucky ones, and I'm grateful.

I wish everyone who's diving into their gene pools at long last may be so lucky.