My birth mother lived in Toronto and lived a very difficult life. At 16 years old, she began prostituting in order to sustain her addiction to cocaine. Eventually, she became pregnant with my older sister and was able to stay clean throughout her pregnancy. My sister was born healthy.

Three years later, my birth mother became pregnant with me. This time, she didn’t stop using, and I was born with traces of cocaine in my system. Children’s Aid stepped in and monitored my mother closely. I felt a lot of resentment toward them while I was younger. I felt that my mother had tried her best and that we didn’t need Children’s Aid to save us.

But I guess we did. Or, I did. My birth mother continued attempt after attempt to give up her addiction, but she failed. I was placed in a family that had problems of its own. Soon after my adoption was finalized, my adoptive parents went through a nasty divorce. My adoptive mother took off with another man and left me with my adoptive father. I felt like I’d lost both of my mothers, except losing a mother for the second time was worse because I’d believed that I could really count on her to take care of me. I’d had a much stronger connection with my adoptive mother than my birth mother.

I’d suffered a lot by this point in my life, but being ignored and cast away by my adoptive mother was the worst yet.

Maybe it was so hard because she willingly left me with my adoptive father, who was, and still is, physically and emotionally abusive.

Writing this, I have a hard time believing that I am who I am. I’ve suffered so much. I know what it means to grieve and to lose. And yet, I feel strong. I feel like I can conquer anything. Even when I want to give up, I hold on to the belief that I can and will have a beautiful life.

I want to give others information and hope about adoption–both things that I was never given but have learned on my own. Although I’ve suffered, my life is better than it would have been because of adoption.

Written by Chanesse B.