Anatomy of a Failed Adoption ©

My earliest memories are of a time when I cried myself to sleep. The darkness of night was both a terror and a refuge-a terror because the night brought isolation and a reminder of an earlier abandonment, a refuge because I was for the most part left undisturbed.

Untitled-1.jpgMy adoption began at the age of 16 weeks, and I knew I was adopted from as early as I can remember. Difficulties with this placement arose early on. After one year, child welfare authorities desired to move me to a second family, but this was rejected by the adopting parents. I still don’t know all that went into the final approval of my adoption, which occurred when I was four. It was made official by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Regardless of what the Court had decreed, something was missing. I hadn’t bonded with my adoptive mother. She was, however, bonding with her newborn natural son. At age four, I didn’t know the adoption had just been finalized, but it was hard not to notice the arrival of a newborn into the family. I soon learned about rejection. Open hostilities weren’t far behind.

Crime and punishment at our home turned to abuse when they became a ritual, a vicious cycle of provocation and retaliation. It got to the point where nobody knew who had started it. If I really was such a rotten little human, this should have translated into a life of crime-but it didn’t. The only result was a determination to fight my adoption and all it stood for.

At age 10, I said to a sibling that I wished someone else would adopt me. This got back to my adoptive parents, and within a week I was in a foster home. I was left with a name I didn’t want and no one to take up my cause. I resolved that when I grew up, someone was going to hear about this. I had a more immediate problem though-growing up.

After 13 foster homes, plus a stint in a provincial detention centre for juveniles, I emerged from the custody of the child welfare authorities with a letter advising me that I would be responsible for my own medical coverage upon reaching age 19.

Apart from being a survivor of mistreatment, my greatest frustration was the lack of my own identity. There seemed only one course of action: The adoption had to go-legally. At first, I expected it would only be a formality. I soon learned that there appeared to be no remedy for ending an adoption of such duration.

Enlisting the support of the Superintendent of Child Welfare, I obtained the approval of both the adopting parents and my birth mother. The process was stopped, however, by the B.C. Supreme Court in 1977.

More legal manoeuvring followed, this time in the B.C. Court of Appeal. This time, the Court was satisfied with the consents of all the parties, and granted an order setting aside my adoption order of 1960. The date was November 26, 1980.

To my knowledge, this had not been done in Canada, the US or Britain before my appeal. An interim adoption order had been set aside years ago in the Maritimes, but never a final order.

Here in British Columbia the Adoption Act was completely rewritten in November, 1996, with a new provision allowing adoption orders to be set aside by both the Supreme Court and, as before, the Court of Appeal. The question remains whether the Superintendent of Child Welfare will exercise these provisions on behalf of minors or whether this is only a cosmetic change.


© The Copyright in 
the foregoing text 
is owned 
by: Ulysses Norman 
a.k.a. Ulysses Norman