Adopted, abused as a child, woman returns to surprise biological mom
Among the passengers flying to St Vincent and the Grenadines on the first direct flight from Canada in February 2017 was a woman who was returning to surprise her biological mother, after she had been adopted and raised in Canada.
Kamille Copeland, 30, used the opportunity of the Sunwing flight from Canada to escape the abuse she had endured in her adopted homeland and to learn more about her biological family and the country where she was born.
In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT earlier this month, Copeland described her story as âa sad one.â She said her biological mother gave her up for adoption in the hope that she would have a better life, but thatâs not what happened.
She told SEARCHLIGHT that when she was nine years old, she was sexually molested by someone in her church, after initial verbal abuse by her adopted mother. According to Copeland, her mother was never at home.
âOur father raised us and he did the best that he could, but there was no female figure in the home…and when the abuse happened to me at a very early age, I obviously became angry and violent…â
She said she had never been taught not to let anyone touch her body and if they did that she should tell her parents, so she kept it to herself. Copeland said she found an escape in books, which she read especially at night, usually after altercations with her mother. On one occasion, things took an unexpected turn.
âOne night, when I was 12 years old, they had turned the power to the light off…so I waited for my mom and I ambushed her, because she came out with a flashlight and I wanted her flashlight so that I can read my book… She had me charged and I went to jail. I was 12.â
Copeland said her adopted parents did not pay her bail, so she was sent to a detention centre for one month, after which she was sent to a foster home. She said although the government made many attempts to reunite her with her family, she kept running away.
âOne time I ran away with a girl and the girl sold me to a pimp. I was 13 or 14 years old when I was sold and I spent around a year in the sex trade…undercover cops had found me and took me out of the clubs, so I was safe.â
However, by then she was pregnant and facing the responsibility of becoming a teenage mother. She said she never had the chance to work through the pains of her abuse and had developed mental health issues.
Kamille said she never thought of finding her biological family in St Vincent until her hairstylist put her in contact with a Vincentian living in Canada who had an old telephone directory. After searching through the directory, she looked for the name Williams and was able to contact someone who was a former neighbour of her biological mother.
She left her contact number with the person and within 24 hours, she was speaking with her mother Deborah. This was in 2009. Mother and daughter spoke at least once a year, but Kamille maintained closer contact with her biological sister, Zonnel, through Facebook.
But it was not until the opening of the Argyle International Airport in February 14, 2017, that she came home.
âThat international airport made a huge difference. I had never flown before. We decided two weeks before the flight…I was like, I have a little bit of money saved up, if you guys can pay the rest, I can come.
â…When I came out the airport at first, I remember the trees and then we were coming down the path and I saw the ocean and I thought this was beautiful.â
Her visit was a surprise to her biological mother, planned by her and her sister Zonnel. She said although she had been in touch with her family since 2009, she had never told them of the abuse she suffered.
âI never had a family and when I came home last February and I got to spend that one week with my family, it was not enough…they are all like me…The first morning I woke up in St Vincent and I opened up my eyes, and I looked out the window and I saw all the colours, houses, trees and the sun and the little lizard on my wall, it answered questions that I was looking for 30 years.â
She said she felt at home visiting the Rawacou Salt Pond, Vermont Nature Trail, Bequia and had also experienced her first sunburn.
Kamille said it is unlikely that she will be able to afford to return to St Vincent soon, but she plans to migrate here in the future.
She resides just outside Toronto with her two children and is working on improving her health.(CB)