Tribute

This site is dedicated to and in memory of Irene Praeg.

ireneIrene served as President of Parent Finders NB for 25 years.

In 1966 Irene was presented with the Victoria Leach Award for lenghty and outstanding service to the adoption community by the Adoption Council of Canda.
The Kennebecasis Valley Times – PRAEG helps bridge the adoption information gap.

By: Natalie Greer

Reuniting parents and adopted children is not an easy task for one woman. But with 18 years experience and a roomful of files and directories, Irene Praeg does her best to fight the frustrating laws and rules shrouding adoptions.

As the representative of Parent Finders New Brunswick she believes the cloud of mystery over adoptions maintained by governmental departments is keeping families apart.

“They say they are protecting the mother’s anonymity,” said Praeg. “But who wants to be protected from her own child?”

Praeg, works out of Rothesay, said government attitudes are outdated and damaging to the persons involved in emotionally charged situations.

She said a change in the Act in 1981 allowed adopted children to find out the names of their natural parents but birth mothers are unable to access information.

“But what good is that to all the others?” Praeg asked. “It will be the year 2000 before anyone will put the law into effect. Meanwhile there are adopted born in the 30’s and 40’s who don’t know who they were.”

Praeg said that the department of social services is also setting up reunions for adopted children and their natural parents, but only after a long, discouraging procedure.

The adoptee can request the department to do a search but it is dropped if the birth mother refuses the request for information. If she is in agreement to two parties must write a letter to each other stating how they feel.

“That is crazy,” said Praeg, who searched for her own daughter in 1984 just prior to joining Parent Finders. “You don’t know how you feel. How can you write it down?”

If no snags are found a meeting is set which a social worker attends. The birth mother receives counseling at the time.

Praeg said it sounds well and nice but the time for counseling is weeks after the meeting to deal with the new relationship and possible rejection or disappointment.

She said the games the department plays with adoptees is unfair and maddening. Some departments in other provinces will give clues to reveal the parent’s identity but will not give straight information while New Brunswick will not give clues at all.

As a result the adoptee can spend hundreds of dollars on telephone calls in attempts to sift through clues. She said the government has indicated that revealing information might embarrass the mother who had an illegitimate child secretly.

Praeg said that hiding a mother’s identity from the adoptee can sometimes backfire and cause even more embarrassment. In one case Praeg worked to find the father of an adoptee who had already found her mother. The mother was schizophrenic and lied about the identity of the father. The only clues were he was a mountie and his graduation year.

The desperate adoptee called everyone in the graduating class of the training school to ask questions spreading the gossip around more than 30 people rather than calling just one, the right one.

“Why couldn’t they tell her the right one and save all that?” said Praeg.

Praeg said mothers who give up their babies for adoption should have the right to find out annually about the health and welfare of the child for peace of mind.