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Friday Flow: She named me Valerie…

I don’t look like a Valerie. I don’t feel like a Valerie. To my birth mother…I am Valerie. Or maybe she’d have shortened it to Val? I imagine my entirely different life and Valerie is happy too. Valerie laughs a lot. Just like me. Only…I’m Tanya. Tanya Malcolm.

I think like this quite often. Sometimes I look at my hands and wonder if they look like her hands, my birth mother.  I have a file. It has been accumulating bits and pieces since September 1997. The year I turned 18 and knew I was old enough to start the search. I contacted the Ontario Ministry of Community & Social Services in Toronto, and requested information about my adoption. I learned about the Adoption Disclosure Register and Children’s Aid Society. The register was a program that supported reunions of families separated by adoption by providing a registry for birth parents and children to keep updated to facilitate reunion. For this process to work, both parents and children have to be registered, when you get a match the reunion is organized. I have kept my information updated since then, unfortunately my birth mother is not registered.

Part of me can’t believe it’s been nearly 16 years of  opportunity, and the rest of me is very use to the curiosity. It’s a piece of me now, I can’t remember not having it. Sure days go by without thinking about it, but then there it is again. Who is she? Where is she? It’s time to get some answers. In the meantime I’ll share with you what I do know.

When I was 18  I requested  information from the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) that handled my adoption. At the time, strict laws prohibited any identifying information from being released. Here’s the story the very matter of fact way it was delivered to me just after my 18th birthday.

My birth mother is of Dutch and South American Indian ancestry. She and my birth father who was half Indian and half African had relations prior to my birth mother coming to Canada to get married.  She was married shortly after her arrival in Canada and a month later she realized that she was pregnant.

When I was born my birth mother and her husband recognized that I had been conceived prior to her leaving Aruba. Her husband found himself unable to accept me as his child and persuaded my birth mother to make her decision for adoption. She breastfed me for my first month… Hallelujah! At six weeks old I was placed in the care of the CAS. My birth mother tried to make a plan to have me adopted by her sister in Aruba, but her plan was not successful. She visited me four times while I was in the care of the CAS and she became more and more attached to me. It was with great difficulty that she made the decision to allow me to be placed for adoption in Canada. I remained in foster care until my parents adopted me when I was 6 months old.

That’s kinda heavy right? I know, even so many years after I first received that news it still makes me cry. In 2011 I found out that some major policies regarding adoption disclosure in Ontario had been amended  I was able to order a copy of my original birth registration and registered adoption order. This letter was a glimmer of hope in what seemed to be an endless journey to nowhere. Her name is Marlene Yvonne. You know what the first thing I did was? Ya you do…I Facebooked her! No luck. Google, nothing. Ancestry.ca, zilch! Since then I’ve done nothing more, I just keep gazing at her signature on my ‘Statement of Live Birth’ and thinking…she’s real.

Marlene was born in San Nicholas, Aruba in 1951. She was 27 years old when she gave birth to me. I weighed seven pounds nine ounces. She lived in an apartment in Burlington, Ontario. I wonder where she lives now. I wonder if she lives at all. I wonder so many things I can’t remember them all. Right now…I have a journey to take. I may not have personal or contact information about my birth family, but I do have some information about my ancestry. I think learning more about the countries my birth family came from will help diminish some of the ever present curiosity. My birth grandmother was also born in Aruba of Dutch decent, and my birth grandfather was born in Guyana of Portugese and Scottish decent and my birth father was half Indian from a region called Lahar and half African. I don’t know which African country his roots grew outta.

I’ve always wanted to travel! It looks like I’ll be headed to my library to pull travel books, cookbooks, and other resources to see what I can learn about these lands…their streams flow like the blood in my veins. Join me next week as I share my “travels.” Link up to your Friday Flow Spoken Word HERE!
How about you? Do you know your roots? Have you ever visited or learned about the country you hail from? Are you adopted? Do you have a search or reunion story? Leave a comment below about your own journey…
Shine on!
Tanya