Nova Scotian adoptees react to province opening adoption records

Some Nova Scotian adoptees are applauding the province’s move to open adoption records.

"No more, 'Are we going to sit here and hear stories?' I waited for years and years and years and still didn’t get information," said Scott Pyke, who was adopted and is also a member of the Nova Scotia Adoptee Advocacy Group.

"Now people are going to be able to go in and take charge of their own journey."

History has always fascinated Pyke. However, he didn't know his own for most of his life.

When he had children, he was asked questions about his heritage and medical issues that he didn't know the answers to.

Pyke’s only clue was that he had been adopted; the rest of his background was sealed in government records.

He turned to websites that offered DNA tests and social media to find his birth family, but he says it wasn't easy to access official records.

"You had to apply. You can to get permission. They had to then find the birth parents and get their permission to get the information," he said.

Nova Scotia changed access to adoption records on May 1, allowing adoptees 19 years or older and birth parents to access records.

Those who wish to keep their identifying information sealed can file a disclosure veto.

A contact notice would also disclose identifying information, but can disclose how they want to be contacted, or if they wish not to be reached.

"While the opening of adoption records is welcomed by many, others wish to maintain their privacy," said Karla MacFarlane, minister of community services. "Disclosure vetoes and contact notices will continue to be accepted after May 1, depending on whether the information has already been shared."

"I think it’s awful that it took this long," said Rose Valade.

Her path to find her family took most of her life. After an online DNA test led her to find her niece, she eventually found her birth mother a few years ago.

While her experience has been positive, she knows adoption is difficult and not everyone wants to be found.

"And that goes for both sides. Both the parents and the children," she said.

As of April 20, the Disclosure Program had received 295 privacy filings, 235 disclosure vetoes, and 60 contact notices.

Under the new legislation, those who previously indicated they want to keep their information private are still required to fill out a disclosure veto or contact notice.