Rehema Roadknight’s life has been a journey of self-identity, discovery and healing.
The twenty-one-year old’s story began in Kenya where she started to navigate the world of interracial and international adoption.
Roadknight was adopted as a baby in 2001 by her parents, who at the time were evangelical missionaries. Along with her brother and parents, Roadknight lived in Kenya until the age of seven. Canada was not unfamiliar as her family traveled back for months at a time to see relatives and spend the holidays.
Canada has been home for fourteen years now and Roadknight has experienced a fair share of questions as to why she does not look like her parents.
“For the most part, a lot of people look like their parents and so when there is this huge drastic difference kids are going to ask questions,” says Roadknight.
Her therapist is an east African woman who has been helping her reconnect with her Kenyan roots. Recently she has acknowledged that she is a Kenyan woman and that is who she is and where she is from.
“This is life,” Roadknight says about Canada. “It is home in a sense, but then I also have home back home.”
Roadknight loves her family, and it’s important for people to know that even when they sometimes have difficult relationships, she loves them.
On some level, Roadknight’s parents cannot understand her experience of being Black. While they can sympathize when she is racially profiled, they have not lived the experience. This can create a disconnect.
Both parents love their children and have learnt how to speak their children’s native tongue and embraced many attributes of the culture.
Currently a student at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), Roadknight is studying to become a social worker because of having been adopted. Her drive to help others is inspirational and she wants to change the world.
Roadknight wants to change how families stay connected after losing a loved one. She wants to help build a community that supports children and families through hard transition periods.
“I also want people to know that there are so many ways that people create family, and I think that family looks like anything, it’s what you apply to it that makes it family.”
Her birth mother died shortly after her birth and Roadknight knew very little about her. While she cannot get to know her birth mother, reconnecting with her Kenyan identity has helped her heal.
Unfortunately, most paperwork and documentation, like birth certificates and medical records, do not follow children during the adoption/foster care process.
“That is the reality for a lot of international adoptions,” says Roadknight who would have liked to have a paper trail to her birth family.
With her therapist’s help, Roadknight has been able to be more at peace, as well as grieve and process her life and her birth mom’s story. “It doesn’t always have to be the end of the story, it doesn’t always have to be a sad story because it happened and I can grieve that, I can honour who she is and what she gave me.”
Part of Roadknight’s dreams is to get her masters before she turns 35 and then become an art therapist. Right now, she is focussed on graduating and getting more experience. Her dream does not have to be set in stone, she says is open to going with what feels right.
Roadknight is continuing her journey of self identity as she grows and discovers more about who she is and her place in this world.