Mariette Williams said her life was forever changed the day she was uprooted from her native home of Haiti and shipped to Canada to meet her “new” family. At just three years old, Williams had no idea she’d actually been kidnapped and sold to an adoptive family under false pretenses.
“I am irreparably broken,” she wrote in a gut wrenching essay published by For Harriet. “My adoption was an earthquake that shattered my life…the ground beneath me suddenly rocked and heaved me into the air, shards of concrete and glass pummeling my body. When I finally landed on the broken earth, I was another child with a new last name in another family.”
Twenty-nine long years later, the truth came out and Williams began the quest to find her birth mother. But the road to the long-awaited reunion hasn’t been easy, as Williams recalls the painful moments that led up to meeting the woman who birthed her for the first time in over two decades.
“At three years old, my memory had been reset,” she wrote. “My first memory is the ride on the airplane that would eventually take me to Canada. I remember being sick, throwing up all over myself and crying. Trying to cope with the trauma of being uprooted from my family, my brain had does its best to make me forget everything I left behind. And perhaps for good reason.”
Williams said she had always known very little about her adoption, but was told that her birth parents had placed her in an orphanage because they were too poor to raise her. Adoption papers listed her name, birth date and parent’s occupation as farmers. That’s it.
But the young woman soon found out the details of her adoption were completely false.
“My birthday was changed to make me younger, and a backstory was invented to make me seem more adoptable,” Williams recalled. “My parents signed no papers and were not aware of my adoption. I left Haiti without my parents’ knowledge. But how was that even possible?”
She later learned that her parents had actually sent she and her siblings to live with their god mother, a woman who ran an orphanage in Carrefour. Williams said her godmother promised her mom that she’d send her and her siblings to school to get an education. Adoption was never part of the plan.
It was the predatory godmother who ultimately arranged Williams’ bogus adoption. Her adoptive was family was tricked into thinking were part of a legal adoption. Williams said her adoption papers were forged, money was exchanged and off to Canada she went.
“For 29 years, I was lost to my family,” she wrote. “They didn’t know where I was. My mother had thought I was with my godmother, who had also disappeared.”
“My mother took my sisters back home, and the orphanage eventually closed,” Williams continued. “There was not a day that didn’t go by that my mother didn’t think of me, the child she was missing. Not a day has gone by in my life that I haven’t thought about my mother, longing to someday see her face.”
That day finally came on July 13, 2015 when Williams was reunited with her mother and siblings back in Haiti. She was told her father had passed away a few years prior and said she could only be comforted by stories her family told of him.
Now that she was reunited with her family, Williams asserted it would be foolish for anyone to think that the many years of damage and separation had suddenly been undone.
“…I can just forget about the last 29 years,” she wrote. “My adoption has had an impact on every single aspect of my life. The absence of my mother has affected my friendships, my marriage, the way I parent my children, and my identity.”
“Twenty-nine years ago I was stolen from my family. With my disappearance, my family was broken, and each family member suffered from the loss,” Williams added. “In the months that have followed our reunion, the pain of separation has been renewed. Every day I wake up and think of my family, and each second away from my mom reminds me of what is still missing in my life.”
According to For Harriet, Williams now resides in South Florida with her husband and their two children. She’s the founder of Haitian Adoptees, a Facebook group that offers connections and support to other Haitian adoptees. She’s currently working on a young adult novel.