Two P.E.I. women demand more openness to adoption records

·3 min read
'Allow adult adoptee and natural families access to all documents in the adoption file,' Charlotte MacAulay told a legislative committee. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
'Allow adult adoptee and natural families access to all documents in the adoption file,' Charlotte MacAulay told a legislative committee. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

Two Prince Edward Island women told a legislative committee the government needs to strip away obstacles to birth records, allowing birth parents the right to receive adoption records of children adopted outside P.E.I.

Charlotte MacAulay and Mary MacDonald spoke Wednesday to the standing committee on health and social development dealing with a review of the Adoption Act and adoption disclosure.

MacAulay has been searching for information about her son, who was adopted by a family in Ontario 38 years ago. She said she wants the government to be more transparent and provide all records of adopted children born in P.E.I.

"Disclosure legislation should include open records for all involved in an adoption where the adoptee was born in PEI and/or for all the adoption records held by the province," MacAulay told the committee.

"Allow adult adoptees and natural families access to all documents in the adoption file."

Adoption trauma

MacAulay said when she gave birth she was staying at St. Gerard's, a home for unmarried mothers run by the Catholic Family Services Bureau in Charlottetown.

"I was 17 when my son was taken from me and I've spent a lot of years in grief. It was about 10 years ago I decided to start searching and it's not easy, but it's something that I think would help me to heal," she said.

"For those parents who have lost a child, that's how I feel."

There is a misconception that there is no trauma after an adoption, MacAulay said. She has been receiving therapy for her adoption trauma.

Every adoption begins with loss...that loss translates into trauma. - Charlotte MacAulay

"Everybody thinks of adoption, they think it's all lovely because somebody is getting rescued, but every adoption begins with loss. It doesn't matter what the circumstances are, that loss translates into trauma."

MacAulay said P.E.I. is not the only province that needs to more to improve access to birth records.

"What we need is to have a national strategy of some sort where adoption disclosure information can be easier to get for people who are looking for it," she said.

Brian Higgins/CBC News
Brian Higgins/CBC News

MacDonald was born on P.E.I. but adopted by a family in Nova Scotia when whe was an infant.

She told the committtee that law makers should seek an inquiry into P.E.I.'s past adoption practices.

"Primarily looking at the way that young unmarried, separated and widowed women were treated, and the mechanisms by which their infants were essentially taken from them."

MacDonald also requested that P.E.I. legislature apologize to "abused" birth mothers of adopted children.

She said she was pleased with the response from the committee during the briefing.

"It was quite heartwarming to see their response. They seemed generally interested in what we had to say," she said.

"They did seem genuinely concerned and motivated to act on the matters we discussed."

The committee is looking for more information about how P.E.I. handles and stores adoption information and how it shares it with other provinces.

It could bring recommendations on the Adoption Act to the legislature this fall.

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