31 years ago this month - October 11, 1991, to be precise; My children were taken away from my life forever through coerced adoption.

In September of that year I had reached out for help to the children’s father’s parents. The kids’ father and I had reached the peak of our abusive relationship and I was scared. I was scared I was repeating patterns of violence from my own family growing up. I started fighting back when their father pushed me into corners. I didn’t want the kids to grow up like that.

After suggesting to their father that he take our son — because he had been turning our son against me… It got to the point when my son started calling me a bitch because of how his father treated me and the way he spoke to and about me in front of our children. Their father declined this suggestion, stating that he had goals he wanted to reach. He wanted to go to school and find his career and do something with his life. 

The reason I made this awful suggestion was because I also had goals I wanted to reach and school to attend and a career to start to figure out pursuing. I didn’t want to have to do it that way by separating the kids but I had no other options. I thought he would go for the idea of each of us having one of our children and making sure they got to stay in each others’ lives. I wanted us all to have some peace. I was too scared to leave him and be a single mother of two, and he was too weak to leave us. He always said he wanted to be there. But what he wanted was to live off my welfare checks and to mess around with other women and get wasted every day. 

At this point, I had made my very first trip as a young parent, to the food bank. As I stood, both kids in tow in the line, hopeless and humiliated, I recalled my mother with her four kids including me. I was overwhelmed with grief for failing my children. I felt like I was losing a battle I was trying to fight all alone. I had no one. The kids’ father had gaslighted me into the ground and convinced all his and what used to be our friends, that I was some kind of evil monster trying to ruin his life. They called me “The Dragon Lady”. I couldn’t go to my own family because I didn’t have one to go to. No one there, knew how to help me. I literally had no one. 

There was no way I was going to my mother for help. She tried to stop me from giving the kids up. She even said she would take them. I was terrified she would abuse them the way she abused me and my siblings. Looking back at all of it, I wish with all my heart that my mother could have helped us the way we needed her too. But the way she spit in Jareth’s face when he was having a crying fit on one of our visits to her place, I knew it could never happen.

She was a violent maniac who tried to kill me, numerous times. She will deny this. But I was 5 years old the first time I can recall her punching me in the face and giving me a bloody nose because I didn’t want to go to school. The night before, her and my step-dad had a fight and he beat the crap out of her. I wanted to stay home to protect her. When I was 9 years old and she was 8 months pregnant with who would be my baby brother, she smothered me with a pillow when I was having an appendix attack and crying too loud for her. We were in-hiding in a transition house for women and children after my step-dad beat my mom to a pulp, yet again. I had to be rushed to the hospital and was there for two weeks. I could go on…

I left home at age 14 years old because she was beating me so badly that the neighbours called the police that broke into our front door to come in, to stop her from strangling me to death… I could go on. This kind of rage toward me didn’t stop until I was 42 years old. Which is when I walked away from her for good. 

“I don’t want to have anything to do with you until you go to therapy.” Was the last thing I said to her. 

Any way, this isn’t about her. This is about me needing someone — anyone to help me raise and keep my children. 

I was a good mother, considering where I came from. I am one of those people who believe that children are human beings and are a blank slate for learning to be great people as they grow up. My son was speaking in full sentences by the time he was one year old. People used to make fun of me for how much credit I gave him for his ability to learn. 

I loved being a mother. Even on the hardest days where I hadn’t had any time to myself for weeks on end. I had a part time job at the YMCA on the weekends, teaching craft making to kids. My son went to his paternal grandmother’s house because his father wasn’t available to take care of him. I had severe post partum depression and was reaching out for help… I even took myself to emergency at the hospital because I thought I was losing my mind. Later, I would find out that the father of my 4 month old son and his friends were playing head games with me. I blamed myself. 

The children’s grandparents helped with groceries now and then at that time. Bought Jareth clothes and shoes, too, without my ever asking them to do that. But it was always attached to guilt and being told I wasn’t doing a good enough job.

The children’s grandfather was an agent of Indian Affairs. That didn’t go over well — being that I am Métis. So, we didn’t talk about it much. I kept it on the down-low. But even that didn’t help. I came from poverty and was dirt in the grandfather’s eyes and mind. A “dirty Indian” corrupting his innocent son’s mind. When truly, it was the other way around. I wasn’t the one who was doing god only knows what drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. I was at home trying to live up to their standards by keeping my apartment clean and food on the table. 

This went on for nearly 5 years…. And it got bad. I wanted out but I didn’t know how. I was repeating the history of violence I grew up in. I was ready to stop it once and for all. 

So, after asking the kids’ father if he would take our son and I would take our daughter, I was stunned when he said no. I had no other option left but to ask his mother for help. 

I called her on the phone later that afternoon. I told her what was going on. I pleaded with her to help me raise my kids. I asked if she could take Jareth on the weekends so I could do homework and I would go to school during the week. I wanted to find some courses to take. I was on welfare, I knew they would help me with paying for childcare and courses. I was breast feeding, that is why I didn’t ask for her to also take Kaylee. Welfare had helped me before to get into a woman’s group where I started to get the tools I needed, to be the amazing mother I knew I could be. I knew they would help me with school. 

She said, “No. I’m going to call you back and let you know what we can do.” 

That was the end of that call, until she called back a few hours later.

“This is what is going to happen, Carla is going to adopt Kaylee and Candace is going to adopt Jareth. If you don’t agree to this, welfare will find out.”

She knew I was terrified of welfare getting involved because of my experience as a child of a mother with child welfare problems. 

It makes my heart crack into billions of pieces of grief and pain to say that I agreed with her. 

“I will do this on the condition that we will remain in each others’ lives. If I can’t do it that way, I may as well give them to strangers.” These words are etched into the threads of my memory, scarred into the tissue of my brain. 

“Yes, yes of course you will all remain in each others’ lives.” 

Carla and Candace are Kaylee and Jareth’s paternal aunts who lived in Saskatchewan and Vancouver. I trusted that because they would still be in the family, that we would still be in each other’s lives. My mistake was in thinking I was part of the family. 

Within a week, arrangements were being made. And a month later, the children were being picked up. 

Not once, at this stage after I asked for help, did anyone offer me any support to assist me to successfully raise my kids. Not once did anyone tell the children’s father to get out of our lives. Not once did anyone offer to help us with our survival or to help me get some education or to help with childcare. Is it because I asked for help that they punished me this way? 

It was permanent. I signed the papers. I convinced myself “it was for the best”. That’s what everyone kept telling me. 

“You’re giving the kids a better chance at life.” They said over and over and over. 

“I’m proud of you for your bravery.” The Indian Agent grandfather said on the day the kids were picked up to be taken. 

It was the only time he had ever said anything nice to me. 

Before that, it was, “You can’t change a sow’s ear into a silk purse.” 

He compared me to a prostitute when his son chose to spend the weekend with his friends (but blamed me) rather than work as a scab during the postal strike. I was 17 years old at that time. 

When finally my spirit was crushed into dust and I had no fight left in me, I was 21 years old with two young children. 

The first lawyer the sisters took me to was shocked. 

“I don’t want to have anything to do with this.” She demanded we get out of her office. 

Why didn’t she help me? Why didn’t she kick the sisters out of her office so she could speak to me on her own? Maybe she could have stopped this awful mistake from happening. 

Onto the next lawyer in Coquitlam. I still, every time I drive past there, I look up, toward the window where the office of the lawyer was. 

I thought I thoroughly read the legal agreement. But I didn’t. I recalled once I started going to trauma therapy and could unblock the memory that the lawyer rushed me through the process. They all orally promised we would be able to stay in the children’s lives. 

The papers were signed. 

It was over. 

On October 11, 1991, they picked the kids up. I was numb frozen. Survival mechanism fully kicked in. I felt nothing. Though looking back, I can see myself there with my soul on fire inside of me. Totally helpless. 

The following month was Jareth’s 3rd birthday. I was looking forward to joining them to celebrate. 

“When is the birthday party?” I asked on the phone.

“You can’t come.” The grandmother told me. 

“What? Why not?” I demanded. 

“We don’t think it is a good idea as Jareth tries to adjust to his new surroundings.” She said.

What? I thought we agreed we would all still be in each others’s lives! I demanded again.

“We didn’t agree to that.” She lied. 

My heart sunk to the core of the earth, where it would stay for decades to come. 

I was tricked. 

The children’s father and I tried to stay in a relationship. He was still milking me for my welfare check money. I was delusional believing we were going to stay together. 

That’s being caught in an abusive relationship, for you. 

In early 1992, I tried to kill myself. 

I was hospitalized against my will. 

That is another story. 

When I got out, I was obligated to be in the psychiatric system and to see a psychiatrist weekly. Yes, I was heavily medicated. Thankfully, a year later someone came along to help me get out of that situation. 

Then the children’s father told me he was seeing someone else and she had two kids. 

“I’m ready to be a father.” He told me as he was breaking up with me for the billionth time. 

“Oh my god.” I couldn’t say anything else.

We stopped speaking to each other… it would be years before we would say a single word. 

I started to use drugs for the first time in my life. I was 24 years old. I mean, I had tried them a couple times when I was a teen… but was never a user. Acid was my drug of choice. And later, speed. I started to starve myself. I had stupid, reckless sex with whomever. I didn’t care. I wanted to die. Although it was acid that kept me alive because of the way it made me explore all of existence. 

I’m not going to get into all that right now… 

In 2010, I started trauma therapy.  Which changed my life forever, for the better. Until then, I had been going to all kinds of counselling and therapies… Jungian was by far my favourite. I did art therapy, physical therapy all kinds of therapy. It was trauma therapy when I was 40 years old that I finally was able to start facing my grief. 

Here I am now, writing all this down with the intention of allowing you to read it. There is the risk that those who harmed me and my children will read this too. But you know what, that’s okay. Because I stand by my words here. 

What they did was wrong. In all the senses of the word. My children did not have better lives. They had unstable, turbulent, uncertain lives. Especially my daughter. It is against our human rights, what happened. I had no legal representation. They took my children because I was poor and Métis. 

When people ask me lately if I have kids, I pause. I internally struggle with my answer. And twice now more recently, I have just said, “No.” 

I said no because I don’t have a relationship with my kids. I tried. But it didn’t work out — for deep, painful reasons. I tried to be in their lives. But, they don’t want me in theirs. I respect that. As painful as that may be. I said no, because to say ‘yes but’, is far too complicated and painful. 

I am trying to get on with my life. I am trying to live my best life. And I admit, it is frikken hard. Although I no longer want to die, I sometimes wish to never wake up. 

This is the heart of my grief. 

I want you to know, to help you understand me a little better, I hope. 

There has been a lot of important loss in my life. This being the absolute worst. My son was 2 years, 11 months old and my daughter was 8 months old when this happened. I had SEVERE postpartum depression and was in an abusive relationship with the children’s father.

I’m sorry if I ever hurt you. I want you to know that you can talk to me. I am actually very easy to talk to. It’s when people start to not take responsibility for their role in our troubles that I must speak up. And I will. 

Ultimately, I love you. I love all of you. Even you strangers.

Do I forgive the children’s grandparents and aunts? No. No I do not. I am not obligated. They don’t feel they did anything wrong. As long as they feel that way, they are not going to get my forgiveness. This experience destroyed my young adulthood. I spent decades trying to learn how to live and not want to die every day of my life. 

Do I forgive myself? Yes, I absofuckinglutely do. 

here is a link to check out to get informed about coerced adoption: