Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, I did not intend to speak on this matter, but the substance of the motion has driven me to rise.
As the former vice-president of the Adoptive Parents Association of Nova Scotia and one of its founding members, I want to make sure that we put adoption in its proper light.
Yes, forced adoptions are wrong. Yes, the coercion of young women to give up their children is wrong. But there are many thousands and thousands of people in this country whose lives have been changed by adoption. I’m one of those, because in November 1980 I met my son for the first time. He was a month old. Through a Catholic agency in Halifax, my wife and I adopted Michael.
Michael has changed our lives. I’m here today because of that, because it helped focus me for the rest of my life. It gave me a meaning for the rest of my life to work hard to support him, to help him. I’m extremely proud of him. Indeed, crazily, he is in this business as the Executive Director of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia today. And I know you’re all happy about that, too.
The point I want to make is that this is an important report and we should support it. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that adoption is a very good thing. I am very critical of those people who oppose abortion and who don’t, at the same time, say adoption is an option. Because if you’re going to oppose abortion, you then have to make sure that you give the young women who find themselves in a situation where they’re considering an abortion an option to do something very positive, to change the life of not only the child but of the family who adopts the child.
My wife and I have never been happier than we were after we adopted our son, Michael. Well, we are a little happier now because Michael has given us two grandchildren, and as I tell people openly, the best job I have ever had in the world is being a grandfather. It is more fun than anything I have ever done in my life.
When I went home last weekend, after being on the road for seven days, waking up on Sunday morning with my granddaughter saying, “Wake up, granddad,” made my trip worthwhile.
However, I want to make sure we get on the record that adoption is a positive thing. How adoptions are referred to in this report is a bad thing. I think that we need to understand that and I want to get that on the record. Adoption can be and is a very positive thing.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!