56 years later, Pictou, N.S., native hasn't given up looking for her brother

He was born in Pictou, N.S., on June 15, 1953 with the name John Arthur Landry.

Adopted at the age of nine, the boy vanished into Nova Scotia's closed adoption system and even a private investigator has not been able to help his sister, Kathy Ahmad of Toledo, Ohio, find him.

Speaking with CBC Radio's Maritime Noon, Ahmad said she hasn't given up on the search for her brother, whom she last saw when she was 10 and the boy was nine. The two, as well as another brother, Peter, were born in Pictou — the children of Helen Kathleen O'Brien and Murdock Peter Landry.

"John and I were placed in foster care around the age of five," said Ahmad. "We lived in the same foster home until I was nine and he was eight and then we were put in two separate homes. But they were near each other and we would see each other at church on Sundays. The foster mothers would let us get together."

Ahmad ended up being adopted by a couple from Ohio.

Kathy Ahmad

Ahmad has one faded, black-and-white photograph of John, taken at the time the two were separated. Despite the decades that have passed, she said she has never stopped missing her brother.

"Since the day I left, he's been on my mind. Anyone that's ever met knows that I was Canadian, that I was adopted and that I've always been searching for my brother."

Once Ahmad reached adulthood, she hired a lawyer and then a private investigator to help her in her search.

Because the children's names were changed when they were adopted, it has been nearly impossible to trace the siblings.

Nova Scotia's closed adoption system has been a major obstacle, Ahmad said. The province is the last in the Maritimes to maintain that system.

Birth parents and adult adoptees can apply for more information through the province's Adoption Disclosure Service Program. In that program, a provincial worker makes contact with the other party to find out if they are interested in knowing their biological relative. If there's no interest, the worker will attempt to provide non-identifying information about the relative, including medical history.

Ahmad applied a year ago to the program. There's been no progress on her request, she said. This week, she said she received a letter saying staff was unable to even give her an estimate for when they might get to her application.

Kathy Ahmad

A few years ago, she had DNA testing and the results brought her in touch with cousins, aunts and she also discovered a younger brother, Peter, who lives in New Glasgow, N.S. As well, Ahmad found she has half-siblings, her father's children, in Toronto.

Right now, there's a slew of family members looking for John, she said.

"One theory is that because Peter was so close, that John might be close as well. So I'm just looking for any leads, any information, anything," said Ahmad, who can be reached at spiritbasssinger@yahoo.com.

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