Photo credit: Craig Wallace
Recently, I decided to apply for a certified copy of my “Long Form” birth certificate. (The “Long Form” contains such information as your parent’s names, the hospital you were born in, etc.) While working on the online application, one area I had to complete was “Parent(s) information at the time of this child’s birth.” There is also a statement that indicates “I am aware that it is an offense to willfully make a false statement on this form.”
No problem, I thought. I completed the information correctly, paid the fee, and hit submit the form. About 10 days later, I received a letter from the Registrar General’s Office in Thunder Bay. They declined to send me my birth certificate as “the information you provided for one or more of the parents is incorrect. If adopted, please provide adoptive parents’ information.”
Full disclosure here. My father died the same year I was born. My mother remarried four years later and had her spouse legally adopt me. Part of that process, at least here in Ontario, is a new birth certificate is created that shows the adoptive parent(s) as the birth parents. In other words, a falsified birth certificate is created.
So, on one hand, I am warned that it is an offense to “willfully make a false statement” on the application. And I am asked to list the names and details of my parents at the time of my birth. But, then I am told if adopted list the adoptive parents. However, if I did that on the application then I would be making a “false statement.” My stepfather wasn’t my parent at the time of my birth. So what does one do here? Do I lie as the Ontario government appears to wish me to do and list my stepfather as my birth father? That is an out and out lie which I believe could lead me to be prosecuted. Or do I just not get a birth certificate? Add to that if I was to use the “falsified” document created by the adoption process to say apply for a passport — would I not then be violating federal laws by knowingly and wilfully using a falsified birth certificate? How many other people in Ontario face this conundrum?
To add to this I have my Roman Catholic baptismal certificate, and even the newspaper announcement of my birth from the old Toronto Telegram. My father’s name is on both of those — not my stepfather. And I do have a very old copy of my birth registration (it is not certified.) My father’s name is on that document. Not my stepfather. However, the Ontario government won’t provide me with a certified copy of my “true” Long Form birth certificate. But they will certify my falsified birth certificate.
To put this in a better perspective — why is it that every person born in the Province of Ontario can apply for and receive a certified copy of their birth registration (Long Form birth certificate) completed at the time of their birth by their parents, except for those who were adopted? In that way, I lack the same rights as my partner as I was adopted and she was not. In what world is this at all just? I understand a person losing their rights due to being sent to prison for a criminal offense. What offense did I exactly commit that prevents me from having the same rights as nonadopted people?
I was pleased when former premier Dalton McGuinty opened up the adoption records that had previously been sealed. An adopted person can receive a noncertified copy of their original Long Form birth certificate. But that has no “legal validity.” Legally speaking, it is a “dead document.” But again, the Ontario government will certify a Long Form birth certificate that falsely shows adoptive parent(s) as birth parents. It doesn’t make one feel very confident in regard to the integrity of vital statistics in this province.
I have a suggestion for Premier Doug Ford. Change the legislation and destroy all birth registrations created by the adoption process. Reinstate the original, factually correct birth registrations and attach a copy of the relevant adoption order to that birth registration. That way one can be sure they are receiving a true, historically correct Long Form birth certificate and the adoption order will indicate the change in parents. The advantage here is there are no lies, no deceit. Everything is open and honest.
Craig Wallace is a Hamilton resident, an author of five books and a student of history. His fifth book “Canada in Pieces” is a dark, apocalyptic vision of the future and is available on Lulu.com, as well as Amazon.ca.
The original post is here.