|Archival Photo: Native children attending Residential Boarding School|
Part 4 ELAINE, ADOPTEE AND FIRST MOTHER
My first mother was not afraid to mention her First Nations heritage as so many others were at that time. She was bullied and pressured into adopting me out (as many young woman were in those days, and still are to some degree). However, she was strongly warned that if she did not cover up my heritage (or if she tried to keep me) that I would be put in an "orphanage" (not adopted) as that is what happened to Indians and half breeds.
I was adopted out at two months old as a French/Scottish baby with lovely red hair. That is how they passed me off as Celtic. I always knew I was adopted. My second mother was told to tell me right off. She would call me her “wee adopted baby.” My older adopted sister was not able to accept me, in fact she hated me and was jealous of my mother's attention to me, as the new baby. The abuse from the sibling was unbearable and did much damage to my being: it was emotional, spiritual and physical, with no adult stopping it from happening even though they knew it was.
I have had two birth children, one at age 15 and one at age 17 that my parents forced me to give up for adoption. I have reunited with both of these children. One found me through a birth announcement I placed when I attempted to keep her but gave in after not having food for her or diapers or a home. The other I found through an internet site somewhere in the states that I happened upon one afternoon at work.
I have re-united with both children although the relationships are strained, dysfunctional, and in one case non-existent at the moment. I agree with the two victims of adoption and that neither can heal the other. I do however remain available to answer any questions they may have and I do have some contact with one and we try to heal and love each other as it is. Both of these girls have their own stories to tell, neither one a fairytale.
As for the "adoption industry”: As long as the money does NOT follow the children and continues to flow into the Societies, they will continue to be an industry. Children's Services and Aid Societies are funded according to "children in care” numbers: drop the numbers, they lose the cash. That has always been my main fight against them. It costs a minimum of $38,000 a year to have a child in care: more $ for infants and far more for special needs or ‘disturbed children’. If this money was invested in their first home with their first parents, there would be no more industry.
I am a survivor of the 60s scoop. They did not show up on my reservation and take me from my mother’s arms as so many were. But they took me from her arms just the same. She lost a son the next year the same way. She never recovered and passed early at 60; she suffered horrific depression all of her adult life. I am grateful we had 13 years of contact and that she left me three wonderful but very damaged brothers. Her third son, my brother Christopher, was taken from her for a time, over a year. She fought back that time and won. As far as we can tell he was placed for that time in a Residential School in Alberta. His memories are unclear but the pain is not. She also left me some teachings and a bit of a road map to home. I am one of the fortunate ones.
My First Mother was Proud of her Heritage until the day she died, she never stopped telling us who we were. That gift has made me a strong and proud First Nation Woman. Meegwich Mom & Onen Juanita (Mohawk for until we meet again).