A Swim Against the Tide: The Fight to Adopt Children into a Loving Home


298 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-9730949-5-8
DDC 362.73'4'08664




Reviewed by Patricia Fenton

Patricia Fenton is chair of the Adoption Council of Ontario.


A Swim Against the Tide is the autobiography of a gay Ontario man, David
McKinstry, and his struggles to adopt a child. His efforts to adopt
spanned a number of years prior to 2000 when Ontario changed its
legislation to allow adoption by gays and lesbians.

McKinstry is himself an adopted person and a birth father who placed a
baby for adoption. His own experiences in growing up adopted were very
positive. He gives an interesting account of his own search and reunion
with his birth family. He also movingly describes some of the tragedies
and losses he has experienced throughout his life. It is clear that he
is dealing with a lot of anger, a fact he acknowledges in his

In his quest to adopt, McKinstry was focused and energetic, and he
continued with the process long after others might have given up. He
finally succeeded in adopting two boys, a seven-year-old from India and
a four-year-old born in Ontario. At times, McKinstry’s account leaves
the reader wondering if his quest to adopt was more about proving
himself than about genuine concern for the children and their needs. He
balances this, however, with a few anecdotes that demonstrate his deep
devotion as a father. Several photographs of the children help to
illustrate the story.

The title of the book is a fitting choice given the fact that McKinstry
was a competitive swimmer who made two valiant attempts to swim Lake
Ontario—an apt metaphor for the hurdles and complexities encountered
by gay men who seek to adopt.


McKinstry, David R.I., “A Swim Against the Tide: The Fight to Adopt Children into a Loving Home,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/18163.