SaltWire's Ask a Journalist: You have questions, let's find some ...
What you need to know about COVID-19: May 29
The latest on Nova Scotia's mass shooting
The latest weather columns and browse beautiful photos from Cindy Day
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
NOW Atlantic: Smart thinking for a changing world
Visit SaltWire.com for more of the stories you want.
After he retired from his career as an industrial electrician, Blake Harris looked for a way to pass the time and maybe bring in a little extra money.
His adoptive mother Dorothy was a knitter who kept the family’s feet warm over many winters with her wool socks. Hearkening back to those comfortable memories, Harris commenced a search for a sock-making machine.
“I started in 2012,” Harris, 66, said in a recent interview from his Cole Harbour home. “I purchased a reproduction 1924 circular sock machine in December 2011 in the U.S. I taught myself how to use it.”
His hobby has since expanded into a venture he calls Socks Made on 88, which can be found at the Halifax Brewery Market. The name refers to his machine being the 88th reproduction of the original Gearhart, which is manufactured by the Erlbacher Gearhart Knitting Machine Company in Missouri.
Family connections, like how his adoptive mother passed along her love of crafts, are important for Harris. After he was told he was adopted, he made it his mission to find his biological family.
He and Dorothy, who was a social worker, spent years looking for any scraps of information they could find.
"She wanted to also meet my biological parents so she could share with them how they brought me up and who I was."
Harris finally made a connection with his biological mother, Betty, in 2000.
“The government created a program . . . which they would do a passive search for biological connections,” said Harris, who was adopted when he was a month old. “When they finally got around to removing the fee for that service, I applied for it and over a period of time they undertook a search and connected me with my biological mother.”
While that subsequent relationship “had its ups and downs,” the connection ended up having a huge impact on his life. (His biological father did not respond to Harris’s overtures.)
"Not having the biological information available for the people is not in my opinion what’s best for the child."
- adoptee Blake Harris
“My biological mother shared some medical history of hers and when I in turn shared that information with my family doctor, that information led my family doctor to want to have some tests taken,” Harris recounted.
“When I was having those tests taken, the doctor discovered something that was precancerous, corrected the situation and I’m now 15 years past that position and functioning well.”
For that reason, Harris welcomes the Nova Scotia government’s recent move toward consultations on possibly opening up adoption records.
Currently, an adult who had been placed for adoption as a child, or a birth parent, can request that the government search for the other party, but if that person is found, they must consent to having their information released.
Open adoption records mean that identifying information can be released to the adoptee or to the birth parent without consent, unless one of them has filed a disclosure veto.
“I understand that there may be a lot of people not interested in the fact that person had a child and they’re ashamed and they don’t want to revisit that,” Harris said. “But not having the biological information available for the people is not in my opinion what’s best for the child.”
Beyond the importance of knowing your medical history, the father of two said making connections with blood relatives can enrich your life.
For example, Harris discovered he has a half-sister, with whom he’s had communication.
His adoptive mother never got her wish to meet his birth mother. Dorothy died before Harris made his connection with Betty.
“That’s another interesting thing. You have one mother, I have two.”
Nova Scotians wanting to participate in the adoption record consultation can take the online survey and find more information at novascotia.ca/adoption-records-consultation/. Feedback can also be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.