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Published Tuesday October 6th, 2009 at 1:31am

Original Article by Diana Lynn Tibert

From a genealogical perspective, I'm very fortunate.

I can research for years, uncovering one relative after another. From personal experience and photographs, I can see that I have my father's crooked upper lip, my mother's thick dark hair, the same eyes as my cousin.

The DNA within my cells connects me with all my ancestors. I know many of their names and from where they came. But not everyone is as fortunate.

Some don't give two hoots about genealogy and the ability to trace a family line back through the centuries. Others, like myself, thrive on it. Knowing this, I'm not sure how I'd feel about genealogy if I were adopted.

I discussed this topic with a woman in a waiting room not long ago. She had been adopted and was struggling to learn more about her birth parents. She was interested in genealogy, but felt as though she wasn't researching her roots but those of her adopted family. She wanted -- no, she needed -- to know who her birth parents were because she had been diagnosed with a serious illness. Knowing the medical history of her biological family could provide clues to her own condition.

Adoption is not an easy word for some to say; it's an even harder subject to discuss. Personally, I believe words such as shame and secrecy should never be associated with adoption. Understanding and acceptance are more appropriate. There are emotional challenges where adoption is concerned, but I believe there are many benefits for all sides.

For years, adoption records have been sealed, giving individuals no hope of reunions. That is changing. Both children and mothers are raising their voices and fighting for their rights to know.

Laws keeping records sealed indefinitely are slowly being rewritten. Since each province governs its own legislation concerning adoption, accessibility is varied across Canada. Researchers must adhere to the laws in the province in which they were adopted.

People wishing to locate birth parents or children given up for adoption now have the power of the Internet. Regardless if individuals live in the province of their birth or not, information is just a few key strokes away. Websites such as Origins Canada, Supporting Those Separated by Adoption have changed the way people search for family members. Origins Canada's Adoption Records page contains information for each province, whose records are open and those which remain closed.

Many websites have been established to help children find their birth families and vice versa. One website is the Canadian Adoptees Registry Inc.. Currently, they have 15,031 individuals in their database searching for family. In total, they helped create 8,591 reunions, of which 609 took place last year. Visitors can search the database containing births from 1921 to 1991. The adopted individual must be 19 years or older before being listed on the website.

To learn more about adoption and to keep up to date with changing laws, visit the Adoption Council of Canada website.