I was born in North Bay, Ontario, in 1968 as Dorothée Labrosse. I was placed for adoption immediately upon my birth, and two months later, was blessed with a wonderful life with my adoptive parents. This was a time when French Canadian women did not get pregnant out of wedlock, and if immaculate conception occurred, the growing stomach was hidden away in some other town, far out of the minds and eyes of the village idiots. Neither birth mother nor her child could ever be reunited since documents were tightly sealed, never to be seen by human eyes again...Until 2008, when Ontario's Ministry of Community and Social Services passed the Access to Adoption Records Act.
In 2003, after having my own children, however, I did seek Non-Identifying Information from Child and Family Services in North Bay, in order to find out if any medical issues were of genetic concern. Sadly, the social history profile was brief, and contained nothing about my birth family's health data. Since recently being diagnosed with mental illnesses my doctors have informed me that my treatment would differ if the origin of my illnesses were genetic rather than situational. However, looking for and potentially finding my birth parent(s) could open up more than just adoption records. Discovering truth about the past and possible mental health issues present in immediate family members could further complicate my own life by introducing new participants and their own issues.
It's a conundrum really, because the current state of my illness has me grappling at each ray of sunlight, while negative interactions, comments, and scenarios send me careening back into the darkest recesses of my mind, where light is unable to filter in along with iridescent flecks of happiness. A synopsis of my birth family's health could help in the treatment of my illnesses and potentially those of my children, but the consequences of delving into territory which I chose to avoid for fear that discovery would only serve to shape an identity of myself which my psyche is not yet ready to process, could cause further damage, and delay healing.
This having been said, however, there are several clauses in the Access to Adoption Records Act which are contraindications to the purpose of providing the adoptee and/or the birth family with information. According to the Act, "Birth parents and adopted adults can apply for a disclosure veto if the adoption was registered before September 1, 2008." This means that either of the parties can chose not to have their names and the desired medical information released.
It is understandable that social stigmas prevalent in various decades could cause apprehension at reunions and the possibility that private information be released, but in this time when those same stigmas are minimal in this country, and the growing prevalence of mental illness is hidden beneath a veil of medical interpretations, opting out should not be an option if the results are necessary for healing and health. And of course, this applies for all health issues which are linked to genetics.
Feedback on various adoption reunion stories and the acquisition of health information through various adoption organizations would be greatly appreciated. Finding birth families is often glorified by scenes of joyful gatherings, but the reality is that pain and suffering can accompany the news to be shared by both the birth parent(s) and the adoptee, and could realistically require more emotional adjustment that some people are able to provide.
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