Michelle (left) and her greeting party hold “You Found Me” signs in anticipation of meeting her biological mother. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Michelle (left) and her greeting party hold “You Found Me” signs in anticipation of meeting her biological mother. Photo by Mike Chouinard

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

A tearful reunion, 38 years in the making, took place Saturday at Comox Valley Airport.

Courtenay resident Michelle Alksne met her biological mother, Debbie Touet, for the first time Saturday. With Michelle’s loved ones on hand, holding signs that said “You Found Me” and a balloon saying, “It’s a girl,” they waited in anticipation, and when Michelle saw her mom approaching the terminal, she jumped up and down and ran for an embrace. Mother and daughter hugged for several minutes, before Michelle starting pointing out who was who to her mom.

Debbie flew in from Barrhead, Alta. for the meeting.

Michelle was born in Mission. She and her adoptive parents, Steve and Wendy, moved to Vancouver Island in 1991, when Michelle was 10.

She found out she was adopted five years later, and has been searching for her biological parents ever since – including some time back on the mainland.

“I actually spent an entire year, driving from Surrey to Mission every day, trying to find clues,” she said.

Little did she know that her biological parents were doing the same.

Though their intimate relationship ended shortly after Michelle’s birth, Debbie and Michelle’s biological father, Sean Ferguson, have maintained a connection all this time, in hopes of someday meeting their child.

“She (Debbie) told me they never stopped looking for me,” Michelle said. “That means the world to me.”

One of the challenges was that Michelle’s birth name was Kelly-Anne. Her adoptive parents named her Michelle.

For Debbie, if it was a short flight from Alberta, Saturday’s meeting marked the end of a much longer journey. She remembers the day she gave birth vividly, saying the nurses differed on whether she should even hold the baby.

“Give the mom a second to even hold the child, give her a first kiss,” Debbie said.

In the end, she didn’t get the chance. She and her mother even went back to the hospital a few days later, but her baby was gone. What followed were some difficult choices, as she moved into the city to spare her family. Along the way, there was misinformation and deception from social services people, as she had been told things, like being able to get a photo of the child at age 19, then was not allowed to, or having the records released. She waited in anticipation for the baby’s 19th birthday but was given no information.

“They didn’t give me anything after she was 19,” Debbie said. “I always stayed positive. I knew I would find her.”

The name changes and everything else only made the search harder. Social media, though, helped her track down her biological daughter.

“I was extremely nervous because after 38 years, you don’t know if you’re going to get rejected,” Debbie said.

Debbie reached out to Michelle’s partner, Dave Goodall, on Facebook, July 10.

“Dave didn’t know what to think at first… some random woman claiming to be my mom, contacts him out of the blue,” said Michelle. “This is so surreal. This is … years of wondering if she is alive, who she is, what she looks like, all these different things.”

Michelle said an important part of the reconnection is learning about her medical background.

“I have been through a lot of medical issues. So for me to find out a lot of that medical background is wonderful, because now I know who I get if from and why I have these issues.

“It’s a big puzzle piece that was missing. I feel complete now.”

Sean, who now lives in Edmonton, did not make the trip to Courtenay, but they have already been in contact. Michelle found Sean on Facebook and the two met through a FaceTime visit.

“The weird thing is my dad lived in Union Bay for about six years,” said Michelle. “This is a pretty small community, so chances are good that we’d met before.”

Michelle has four step-sisters from Debbie’s side and two brothers from Sean’s side.

“Then there’s my adoptive brother, here, so I have seven siblings,” she said.

Debbie will be visiting until Aug. 28.

(With files from Mike Chouinard)



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Michelle Alksne (left) points out her loved ones to biological mother Debbie Touet on Saturday afternoon at the airport in Comox. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Michelle Alksne (left) points out her loved ones to biological mother Debbie Touet on Saturday afternoon at the airport in Comox. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

(Unsplash photo)
“Are you printing the truth yet?”

Right from my first days in the editor’s chair, I have had a handful of locals tell me they know the secrets to solving COVID-19 — but fail to provide support.

File photo
Man tells RCMP he’s being chased, is later arrested

RCMP looking for witnesses of head-on collision Jan. 10

(Unsplash photo)
Fundrasier for “Smiley” Dave quickly exceed expectations

Less than 24 hours after revealing an idea to memorialize her step-father,… Continue reading

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read