Adpotion -by Christopher Mctavish
I was 11 when I found out I was adopted, it was not long after my 11 birthday. It was a month that history will always remember because of the assassination of President Kennedy.
From that moment on I had a certain curiosity about who I was and where I came from.
I was born Kenneth Michael King in Toronto November 1952 and on Christmas eve 1953 I was in a new home with a new name… Christopher.
My mother’s diary Thursday December 14, 1953:
“Stew picked up some bibs at noon today on his way home from work. Just one of the last minute items, that we keep thinking about. Miss Neville came as planned precisely at 2:30 with an armful of charm. Christopher was dressed in a royal blue nylon snow suit and he was ours from that moment!”
The search for my birthmother began around the late 1970’s. I’d always thought I would have lots of time to find my birth parents. For some reason the Ontario government was intending to make it more difficult to trace birth parents and birth children. Now there was a deadline so I started to access anything and everything possible to get as much information I could before the cut off date.
Even though my father showed me my adoption papers and a letter from the adoption agency it was just very basic information and not very helpful in my search. Then, one evening while living in Ottawa, I attended a lecture on adoption. In the foyer after there was a volunteer organisation that assisted with searches. I signed up and gave them as much information as possible. Naively I thought I would be sitting down a week later with my birthmother enjoying a coffee and a piece of cake.
16 years later while living in Holland I received a letter saying they had found and contacted my birthmother. If I would like to send a letter and photographs back to the agency they would pass it on to my birthmother. It would be up to her if she contacted me or not. All those years you would think I would be prepared, to know what to say I didn’t. I did eventually get something together and sent it off.
I was planning to return to Canada that Christmas to spend time with family. When I returned to Europe 3 weeks later I found a letter waiting for me. It contained a Christmas card a letter and some photographs of my birthmother and my sister and brother.
We continued writing back and forth for about a year or more. We finally spoke to each other the following year. Then another year after that I was in Northern California I called her and arranged to go to Vancouver for the week-end to visit her and her family. Would that be okay?
It was, so I was on my way to see my birthmother for the first time I was in my 40’s…
Everything went quite well and I had an amazing visit with my birthmother. None of her family knew about me until a few days before that week-end, so it was surprises all round. Everybody was very welcoming except my brother wondering why I was showing up after all these years. Also she did not want to talk about my father and I did not push her on that subject.
I returned to Edinburgh where I was living at that time and finishing off University. I had planned to move to Germany after University, I had lived there in the early 70’s and had friends there. I arrived there in January and jobs were scarce. So I decided to go to Vancouver. I had worked several years in the film industry and just graduated with a degree in Film and Television. Vancouver is known as Hollywood North so I thought it would be a good place to go and also get to know my birthmother better.
I got some part-time work in Vancouver and ended up at the Vancouver Film School doing a post grad in Multimedia. I lived with my birthmother and her husband and that year was wonderful. I got to know my birthmother so well and we did many things together. It was amazing how many things we had in common.
I came back to the U.K. after that year, I missed being in Europe. She came to London with my sister a few years later and we had a lovely time. Recently one of my sister’s daughters came to London and we met for the first time. Life certainly is an adventure.
My birthmother is 86 now and I phone her every few weeks. I do not know if I will see her again because of circumstances here with time and money but will always hold on to the time I spent with her and the memories.