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No Fathers Allowed

September 17, 2010 permalink

Ontario's old birth records of adopted children omitted the father's name, in accord with the laws and customs of the times. But even today, births to single mothers sometimes leave out the father's name, or have the name eradicated by social workers. COAR suggests taking action through the provincial ombudsman to correct the practice. The Toronto Star dealt with this under Adoption Half-Disclosure



Problems with ON Original Birth Certificates - from COAR

Dear Friends,

It has been some time since we were in touch. However, it has become clear that many Ontario Original Birth Certificates were altered by government officials and, as a result, adopted adults are unable to learn the name of their father, fathers who surrendered children to adoption are unable to access any information about them, and mothers face discrimination based on marital status.

This is, we believe, a systemic problem that must be addressed.

The Problem

Many of you who were adopted, or who surrendered in Ontario, will have received your Original Birth Certificate, or your child's OBC. You will notice that the original document never contains the name of the child's father — perhaps your original father. It turns out that fathers' names were systematically deleted, whether or not the mother had filled out that part of the form. The same form, invariably, will have handwriting scratched on it, names added and names bracketed. Yet, these forms had been certified by the mothers' signatures.

Because of this unethical practice, many adopted people will never know who their original fathers were. And the deliberate disregard for the signatures of many thousands of young mothers insults all women and men of conscience.

What We Have Done So Far

In October 2009, Karen complained to the Ontario Ombudsman that the copy of her son's Original Birth Certificate was defaced: his father's name had been deleted, even though she was sure that she had recorded it. There were other defacings such as: his original surname had been bracketed, his adoptive surname had been scrawled on it, etc. Many other mothers reported the same, or worse. Signatures had been forged.

The Deputy Registrar General wrote to her saying that according to the Vital Statistics Act in 1963, only husbands' names were allowed on the forms, and that her son's birth was registered by her office because the forms were in order by the time they received it. (They didn't `notice' that pieces of paper had been glued on many of the OBCs of babies slated for adoption.)

An official of Ms. Hartman's staff said in a telephone conversation that "local registrars" altered our signed Statements of Live Birth (the name of the form that later, after registration, became the OBC), routinely, to ensure that they complied with the Vital Statistics Act of the time. This is a bizarre practice — altering a profoundly important legal document to suit a law, after a person was asked to sign it, certifying the truth.

We have not heard from ONE mother from Ontario who received her child's original registration of live birth reporting that the name of her child's father was on the form. Some recall clearly writing the father's name on the form; others were forbidden by either nurses or social workers to record the father's name. Some had officials rip up the form and they were told to re-write it, minus the father's name. Clearly some of the forms had pieces of paper pasted over the fathers' names. In one case, a young mother's social worker rewrote and signed the form in the forged name of the mother.

What You Can Do

Recently discussions with the Office of the Ombudsman again reveal that mothers and fathers of adopted people can complain about how they were treated.

The representative in the Ombudsman's office pointed out that his office will not view systemic complaints. They will only view individual complaints. BUT, they will decide IF a claim is systemic. Therefore, we need many complaints — from all of you who either surrendered in Ontario or, if you were adopted in Ontario.

***If the Office of the Ombudsman does not hear from many of you, the case will not proceed. Please take action!***

Ombudsman of Ontario Website Click on the green box: "Make a Complaint Online"

Please join us in a campaign to complain to the Ontario Ombudsman.

  1. If you are a mother whose child was surrendered in Ontario. (See OTHER REASONS FOR COMPLAINT below*).
  2. If you were adopted in Ontario and your father's name was not on your Original Birth Certificate.
  3. If you are a father who was prevented from having his name included on your child's OBC.


There were many other abuses to young unmarried mothers such as being:

  • Told that you could not see or hold your baby
  • Told that your baby was dead (even though s/he turned up years later, very much alive)
  • Forced to sign adoption papers within a couple of days after the child's birth, especially if no one explained the legal implications to her
  • Offered no legal, housing or monetary support even though it was available at the time
  • Told by hospital staff that you deserved your suffering
  • Sworn at and called vulgar names
  • Not told that you had the right to see your child in foster care
  • Drugged unnecessarily in hospital
  • Mistreated by social workers
  • Forced to live in a maternity home or elsewhere
  • Being denied shelter unless you swore to surrender your child
  • Coerced in any way to surrender your child—feeling that you were being coerced through emotional blackmail
  • Marginalised or mistreated in any other way.

Many young fathers who wanted their children were not allowed to see or hold their babies, to sign the Registration of Live Birth, or to participate in parenthood in any way. Some were threatened by their girlfriends' parents, or escorted out of hospitals by security guards. If this happened to you, or if it happened to your child's father, please complain.

It's Still Going On

This problem affects adopted people and mothers and fathers in the past, present and future. Currently, in 2010, no father can be named unless he signs the Statement of Live Birth, regardless of his marital status vis a vis the mother. A father may be dissuaded from signing the OBC (as many have been in the past), he may not be told of the pregnancy etc. Therefore, if a person is adopted in 2011, and his or her original father does not sign the OBC, when the adoptee becomes age 18 s/he may never be able to find out who this father is, since the mother may have applied a disclosure veto, she may be dead or she may simply refuse to disclose the father's identity. And apparently government officials can continue to alter OBCs with impunity. If they can, they will.

In consequence of the unethical practice by social workers, hospital staff and government workers (of defacing Registrations of Live Birth or refusing to let a mother complete it as she wished, or allowing a father's name on it), our adult children who applied for and received their OBCs, do not have any recorded fathers' names.

For some, this means that half of their ancestry is denied to them. For those who are lucky enough to have found their first mothers alive and willing to disclose the identities of their fathers, this is a small problem. However, most unfortunately, those who find a mother who passed away, taking the identity of her child's father with her, may never know their father's identity. Similarly, if a mother vetoed her identity on the original birth certificate, and the father's name was blank, the adoptee is likely unable to find out who his or her father was.

Please complain to the Ombudsman as soon as possible.

Ombudsman of Ontario Website Click on the green box: "Make a Complaint Online".

In solidarity,

The COAR Coordinating Committee

Michael Grand
Karen Lynn
Wendy Rowney

Source: email from COAR