Abandoned in a ditch in Haiti three days after birth, Judith Craig was taken to an orphanage where she was cared for before being adopted by a White Canadian family in 1980.
Curious to find her biological parents, Craig returned to Haiti five years ago with Guyanese-born friend and filmmaker, Sonia Godding-Togobo.
Emerging from that one-month trip is an inspiring 60-minute documentary, Adoption ID, which follows the search for her parents and also examines the issue of transnational and trans-racial adoption.
While hundreds of Haitians adopted by White families enjoy a better life, there are many who feel estranged and distanced from their own racial identity and culture.
“I hope this documentary will inspire other adoptees and adopted parents and that the conversation continues because you can’t just ignore race and be colour blind when it comes to placements across racial lines,” said Craig who seven years ago moved to England where she’s a social worker and the secretary of the organization, United Haitians in the United Kingdom. “That simply doesn’t work with trans-racial adoptions and I think it’s really key that we put it out there to talk about and make sure that people engage in dialogue.”
Craig and Godding-Togobo met through mutual friends six years ago while the filmmaker was based in England. She moved back to the Greater Toronto Area last January.
“We started off as friends before this journey began,” said Craig, who is the mother of an 18-month-old daughter, Afrykah-Amaya Morency-Nalus. “Sonia felt my story was important enough to share with a wide audience. This project took nearly six years and I am excited and nervous because I don’t know how people will perceive it.”
Migrating at age two, Godding-Togobo graduated from Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School in Ajax and Humber College’s Film & Television production program in 2001. She worked with several post-production companies and was an associate editor on CBC’s documentary, A Deathly Silence, which tells the story of GTA mothers searching for justice after their sons were murdered in the city.
“Working on that project with director Alison Duke was a key moment for me as that was when I realized I wanted to make documentaries,” said the married mother of a 10-month-old daughter. “I felt that’s a great medium to get important messages out.”
Godding-Togobo also spent two years with Much Music, editing commercials and programs, including two one-hour specials on the Darfur crisis and the Sri Lanka and Indonesia tsunamis before relocating to England in 2006 where she worked in factual and entertainment programming for a number of companies and networks.
Five years ago, she shot and edited her first documentary – We Had a Dream – in Accra, Ghana.
To accelerate the production of Adoption ID, Godding-Togobo turned to crowd funding which is a collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources via the Internet to support efforts generated by other people and organizations they believe in.
“This is a new phenomenon that has taken off in the last couple of years and we used Indiegogo to connect our concept to the cash we needed to get the project finished,” said Godding-Togobo. “Post-production is very expensive and it might have taken us at least another two years if we had not gone this route to get people to make an investment in something they believe in.”
The creative fundraising campaign raised $7,502.
Adoption ID will be screened on July 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W. Tickets can be pre-purchased for $12 at www.adoptedID.com
BY RON FANFAIR