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Monday, February 13, 2012

A Short Story: You Are Not Wanted: By Christine McFarlane

I feel like I am taking a big risk by posting this personal story, but its a survivor story. Writing my stories have been a huge part of my healing, and through sharing this story, I want to believe that by sharing one of my many stories, that others will feel that they can share their stories too. No one is alone, and though it took me a long time to realize that, I am happy about where I am today, and I continue to work towards health and healing by writing what is true to me.

You Are Not Wanted
By: Christine McFarlane

I'm sitting at a long brown table; a table scratched and worn by god knows how many people that sat here before me. My feet barely touch the ground. An older lady sits beside me. She leans over and tells me

"I am your lawyer, my name is Helen Carefoot."

I look at her as if to say, "I really don't care,"

 Deep down I am frightened. My heart is thumping and I silently nod my head. Before me, I see a huge expanse of brown-carpeted floor, and a large desk where the judge is sitting.  Where the judge sits, I see two sitting areas-one where I later find out is where the court clerk sits to type up her notes and the other where the plaintiff or defendant sit to tell their story. I glance up briefly to see my adoptive father, stride across the floor and raise his hand. He tells the court clerk:

" I swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth."

He looks ahead, careful not to look over to where I am sitting, and then sits down at the court officer's request.

 My heart goes into my throat. I want to be sick, because the fear inside me starts to consume me. I take a huge gulp, willing my heart to slow down. I tell myself

 "I can't cry.  I need to be brave."

I don't know how long I am sitting there. For a ten year old, court is pretty boring. Everything that was being said just went over my head. I mindlessly sat at the table with paper and pencil before me, just in case I wanted to doodle.  I don't really remember hearing what was said. I do know that I did come alive when I heard the judge say

"Sir, you need to speak louder!”

When I heard the judge say that, inside I smiled and thought, it’s about time that someone yelled at him!  It was then that my world as I knew it came tumbling down upon me. I heard my adoptive father say

"Christina is not wanted and we give her up to the care of the Children's Aid Society."

After I heard those words, things became a blur. I do remember the court session ending, and walking out of the courtroom to the elevator. My lawyer was with me. We were both quiet. I wanted to cry but I couldn't, I kept it inside. My head was spinning, my little fists clenched at my sides. My insides were in turmoil, and all I could think of was

I don't have parents anymore: I am an orphan.

The enormity of what had just happened minutes before in the courtroom didn't quite hit me until much later, even when I was in the elevator about to leave the courthouse and my adoptive mother said

"see ya,"

On some level I knew that my adoptive parents were going to give me up, because I would not have been missing school over and over again just to go to court, or to hear months later that my grade six teacher at my brand new school told the class while I was away at one point that

"Christina needs to be kept in our prayers.” 

On another level this was when I began to shut myself down, and from those around me. I knew that was the only way I could keep myself safe because I did not want to go through such pain again.  But the pain did continue and at ten years old, the pain turned into an all-consuming anger. An anger that had me running away every chance I got, not caring that I would get caught and brought back to the group home I was living in to face more punishment. Punishment that had me lying on a mattress in a time out room, a room especially made for those who acted out. The room was at the end of a long hallway in the basement of the cottage we were assigned to. While I lay in the time out room, I had nothing to look at but the bare walls and no contact with anyone, unless it was a staff bringing me a meal. This was reminiscent of what my adoptive parents had been doing to me for a year before I landed in the care of the group home. The mattress I laid on was thin and lumpy, the blanket that was given to me barely kept me warm.

Going back to when I was given up.... I remember it was almost the end of the school year and I was sitting in my grade five class.  I excitedly told a few kids that were around me that I was going to a boarding school, and that I would be moving, and wow I was "going to a boarding school... it sounded exotic. It was something even in my ten year old mind that I understood only the rich had access to. I didn’t know that I was going to a home for troubled kids, and that the kids would be much older than me. They were kids that had long since been cast aside.

When my adoptive parents gave me up, they also separated me from my sister. A sister who was my friend and my ally through the abuse we suffered, at the hands of our adoptive parents. Except for one brief visit four years later at the local mall with parental supervision, I did not see my sister again until I turned seventeen. By that time, the toll of what had happened to me became more and more evident. I was wise beyond my years yet still a little girl at heart. A little girl who wanted love, wanted acceptance and didn't care if she died in the process.

Fast forward to today... I am an adult now far away from those who hurt me. I rebuilt my life, I had to for the sake of my sanity, and to become the best aunt I possibly could to my nieces.  I learned to surround myself with people who believed in me and encouraged me to not only keep up the fight but to stay strong. Most of all, I got sick of being sick and tired, and wanted my past to no longer define how I was to myself and the world around me.

Today.... I am alive and I am strong because I am a survivor. I am a survivor in a sea of thousands of other First Nations children, First Nations children who were put through the child welfare system through no fault of their own. I know that I am not alone, and I would like to believe that the more we speak and tell our stories, the stronger we will become.

1 comment:

Cindy Blackstock said...

Truth that comes from the heart creates change. Thanks to Christine for sharing this powerful and important story of why it is so important to support all children in child welfare care and those whose families need supports to keep them safely at home. If anyone needs an inspiration to keep fighting for positive change in child welfare - they should read your story. Thank you for sharing it.