A Nanaimo woman on a mission to uncover her original birth certificate and parents identities says a bureaucratic runaround has left her exhausted and feeling like a second class citizen.
Manon McGinty was adopted 50 years ago in Quebec where closed adoption laws have kept many records sealed.
“This is me in a box, basically the last 25 years of searching,” said Manon McGinty holding a prized cardboard box in her Nanaimo home. Inside is each detail she’s scraped together of who she is. The baby girl given up for adoption in Quebec more than 50 years ago.
“I was born in Montreal in 1966,” said McGinty.
The now mother of two herself has come a long way tracing her records. She’s connected with half siblings and even has a picture of her birth mother, who lived in Victoria for 10 years, but passed away before McGinty knew her identity.
“She was an hour and a half away,” said McGinty. “She lived in the apartment above my brother.”
The last detail that remains is her original birth certificate. She only has the one from Quebec with her adopted name on it. Having recently legally changed her name back to her birth name of Manon McGinty, she’s been repeatedly told she can’t apply for a social insurance number and therefore legally work and pay taxes without the original birth certificate, that Quebec’s closed adoption records are preventing her from accessing.
“I don’t pay my taxes, I can’t open a bank account,” she said frustrated. “Everybody should be able to know who they are and where they come from,” McGinty added. “It’s not up for discussion. It’s a human right.”
So McGinty’s united an online community of adoptees facing closed birth records and its 700 strong, called Canada Open Records. Fellow adoptee Marisa Cooper says watching what McGinty has been through speaks to the bureaucracy in the way of adoptee’s rights to know who they are.
“It’s unbelievable but I’m not surprised,” said Cooper. “In order to file taxes, in order to get a passport,” she said, “while other people who are not adopted do not have this problem.”
So fuelled to find that birth certificate, McGinty’s reached out to her Nanaimo MP and hopes to increase openness for adoptess birth records. Ultimately, she hopes one day it will unite her with the father whose name she is certain will be there and the identity she’s now missing.