James Lively on a whale watching trip off St. Andrews, N.B.

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In early March, two years ago, I accompanied my father, James Lively, on a visit to the New Brunswick Legisture where he took part in a discussion about opening adoption records and allowing adults to have access to their original birth certificates.

I was nervous for my father as I knew this was something he had been looking forward to since the message he received from Jeff Carr, our MLA.

For more than a decade, my father has been searching for his own story. I was hoping this trip to the Legislature would put an end to all of his hard work. Unfortunately, that day he received few answers.

This much we know. On September 26, 1965, Stephen Anthony Murphy was born to an un-married couple in Saint John, N.B., and was put up for adoption by his biological parents. For the first few months of his life, Murphy was transferred between different foster homes. One family wanted to keep Stephen, but had too many children and the request was denied.

In the spring of 1966, Stephen was placed in a home belonging to the Lively family. About a year later he was adopted by George and Marie Lively who named him James Anthony Lively.

Throughout his life, he has always known about his adoption. He had two parents that loved him very much and three older siblings, he had always felt like part of the family. Even after he met and fell in love with Bonnie, his wife of 25 years, he never thought of looking for his biological parents, until his first child was born.

One of the first things that came to mind for Lively was family history. Once his daughter was born he thought about all of the possible things that could go wrong.

“I have no idea what kind of medical history my biological family has, there could be some kind of cancer that is big in the family, or a disease of some-kind that skips generations. What if one of my kids become ill and we don’t catch it right away? These are things we could prevent if I knew my family’s medical history,” he says.

In 2004 he sent the first letter, requesting information about his family. On January 21, 2011, Lively received his first piece of information. No names were put in the letter, but it gave him a bit of hope for the next time.

The letter read:

“Your birth mother was single and 19 years of age at the time of your birth. She was born in Nova Scotia and was residing in New Brunswick at the time of your birth. She was of Roman Catholic Faith and of Irish Origins. Physically, she had dark brown hair, weighed 95 pounds and was between 5 feet 1 inch and 2 inches tall. Your birth father was single at the time of your birth and was born in Nova Scotia and resided in New Brunswick when you were born. He was of Roman Catholic Faith and of French racial origins. Physically, your father was 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighed 125 pounds, with medium brown hair. It was noted that he was wearing glasses and his teeth were in perfect condition.”

The letter talked about cancer on his mother’s side of the family, but did not state the type. It seemed that both his birth mother and father were in excellent health, despite the both of them being smokers and his father being a bit of a heavy drinker. Neither his birth mother nor father finished school. It stated that his mother quit school after her mother died from cancer and she had to help out around the house and his father quit because he did not like school.

Once Lively realized the amount of information he received in one letter, he decided to try and get more information. But since 2013 he has been unsuccessful in the search.

“I just don’t understand, I am a human, I am an adult and yet I am not allowed access to my own birth certificate. I understand that this was a private adoption, but I am a 51 year old man, I am not out to seek a relationship with my parents, nor am I looking to get anything out of this. I would like to find out more about my family’s history, I think they owe me that,” he says.

Lively has connected with fellow adopted men and women from all over the province, telling his story on radio stations and even joining Facebook groups with others adopted in New Brunswick, searching for the same thing.

In March of 2015, Lively turned to the Facebook community, knowing how fast quickly posts get shared and how far they can travel. In this post he wrote:

“They say if you have done all you can do to find someone and failed, turn to the Facebook community. That time has come for me. Steven Anthony Murphy, my pre adoptive name, was born in Saint John New Brunswick September 26, 1965. My birth mother was 19, Roman Catholic Faith and of Irish racial origins, she was born in Nova Scotia and residing in New Brunswick at this time. She came from a large family 7 sisters and 3 brothers who ranged in age from 13 to 47 in 1965. Her mother passed in 1962 at 52 years old. My birth father was also 19 born in Nova Scotia and of Roman Catholic Faith and of French racial origin. His family included 3 sisters and 1 brother whose ages ranged from 16 to 26 in 1965. His first name is Gaylord he was 68 in 2013, he was living in North Carolina and was employed as a truck driver. He had one son who was 41 and lived in Nova Scotia in 2013. I am not looking to cash in on some family fortune or request any family heirlooms nor do I expect to instantly become a part of your life. I am missing a piece to a puzzle, my life, and want nothing more than to know if you are alive and ok. No further communication is expected on my part that will be your decision. I just want the final puzzle piece to fit so I can figure out who I am. So if anyone knows who Gaylord is or where or if he is alive and ok please send me a note I would greatly appreciate the final piece to my life’s puzzle.”

According to Lively, without the long form birth certificate, he cannot access any medical records traced within his family. This is the one thing he wants.

“If my daughter and I were to walk into vital statistics and ask for our long form birth certificates, she would be given hers, while I am told that, that information is private. I don’t see why I can’t access my own records,” he says.

In recent weeks, my father has received news that once again there is a public discussion about opening adoption records in New Brunswick. For my father’s sake and for those still searching, I hope this happens. My father is a quiet man with a huge heart who would do anything for anyone. He isn’t asking for much and I hope this time things go his way. Everyone deserves to know where they come from.

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