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Published Thursday July 9th, 2009 at 3:57pm

Original Article by Maria Tzavaras

Gail Watson looks at at her adoption decree issued in 1956. She hopesto use the new Access to Adoption Records Act, 2008, to find out theirnames and look for any possible birth siblings.
"All my life I wondered and wanted to know about my birth parents.There has always been a piece of me that's missing." ~ Gail Watson

"Youalways want to know where you came from...there's always that feelingof abandonment being given up, I don't think anyone ever gets overthat." ~ Greg Robins

These are the feelings of twoScarborough residents who were adopted as babies and have had varyingdegrees of success locating and meeting members of their birthfamilies.

With some 250,000 Ontarians being adopted since 1921,there are likely many other people who feel the sentiments of Watsonand Robins, who both said they would very much like to fill that void.

TheAccess to Adoption Records Act, 2008, which went into effect on June 1,is hoping to help make the process of finding birth relatives easier bygiving adopted adults and birth parents access to information that waspreviously sealed in their adoption records.

"The governmentbelieves that all Ontarians should be able to learn more about theirown personal history and that's why the government made steps to makeopen adoption records a cornerstone of the new law," said Chris Tidey,media spokesperson for the ministry of community and social services.

Thenew legislation means any adoption that takes place after Sept. 1, 2008is now considered an open adoption. It also means that people can applyfor adoption information for adoptions that took place prior to thatdate.

Having an open adoption means information on birth placeand time, names of birth parents and the adopted name given to thechild birth parents gave up and where the adoption took place, will nowbe available.

"Adopted adults can learn their original names atbirth and the names of their birth parents and birth parents can nowlearn the adopted name of the child they placed for adoption...andthat's a big change."

Previously, only non-idenifying informationlike date of adoption, name of the adoption agency and the birthfamily's social and medical history was available.

However, thereare some caveats, Tidey said. As Ontarians still have a right toprivacy, birth parents and adopted adults do have options for keepingtheir privacy.

While identifying information is released, Tideysaid people can file a notice of contact preferences to specify if theywould or would not like to be contacted, or if they file a no contactnotice, but are still willing to have their identifying informationreleased.

For adoptions that took place before Sept. 1, 2008,people can file a disclosure veto which prevents identifyinginformation from being released, but they must file that preference orthe records become open.

Watson is hoping maybe her parentshaven't filed a disclosure veto so she can find out their names andlook for her birth siblings. About seven years ago, she began lookingfor her birth parents and in 2005 received the devastating news theydidn't want her to contact them.

"Oh God was that a slap in theface, I was heartbroken because all my life I felt abandoned and notwanted and then to be really not wanted, it was horrible," she said.

Bornin Toronto and adopted 56 years ago when she was a baby, Watson decidedto look for her birth parents after her parents passed away. She sent aletter to the Children's Aid Society and they asked her to come in.

Shewas handed pages of information including their medical history, aswell as the date, time and weight at birth, and that she has siblings.

"Allmy life I wanted brothers and sisters and I have them," she said."They've married and had children and I think they never told them aboutme."

Robins, who was given up as a baby, said ever since he wasseven years old and was told he was adopted, he was curious about hisbirth parents.

"There is an inner urge to find out about siblings and parents that are related to you by blood," he said.

About10 years ago, he too became compelled to begin his search after hisparents died and ended up with some non-identifying information abouthis birth.

"My health at birth, my attitude as a baby, how Iinteracted with other babies and a brief history on my birth mother anda very brief history of my birth father," Robins said.

This basicinformation about his life on a few pieces of paper made Robins feelworthless, he said, but his luck was about to change. Later that year,a half brother, who found Robins because he also filed for his birthinformation, contacted him and told him about their birth mother.

"Hewrote me a letter and he informed me that our birth mother lived about40 kilometres away from where he lived at the time in Hamilton," hesaid. "I was very excited, but then I was petrified because you haveall these feeling so first it's a rush of happiness then it's fear."

Afew weeks later, Robins was able to meet his birth mother as well astwo brothers. She was very forthcoming about why she had to give him upand told him about his family and herself, but the only thing shedidn't have was information about his father.

Robins said he is going to look into using the new adoption act to try and get his birth father's name.

"I want to find him, but it's the fear of disrupting a family," he said. 'But I still want to know."

Watsonsaid her parents are still alive and together, and she doesn'tunderstand why they still want to deny her when all she wants is asimple face-to-face.

"I want to look in a face and see myself. Iwant to see that I look like somebody. I want to see where I got mylooks from, a connection," she said.

A few years since she wastold they wanted no contact, Watson said she still has hope they willchange their minds and is planning to write them a letter.

"I'll send it, but I won't get my hopes too high, I don't want to feel that way again," she said.