By International Social Service, the Global Social Work Organization
ISS - 100 Years : The story of Claudine, reunited with her biological mother in Burundi

The story of Claudine, reunited with her biological mother in Burundi

Claudine was 19 years old when she migrated to Canada from Burundi. She grew up in orphanages and no one knew who her family was. She had some memories, but nothing concrete. 

In 2019, Claudine came to the ISS Canada office in Ottawa seeking assistance to determine if the family with whom she was in contact, via social media, was her biological family. 

After gathering information from Claudine, who wanted to connect with family members, ISS Canada reached out to the ISS partner in Burundi. 

ISS Canada finally received some family history that allowed them to piece together the possible reason why Claudine was unwillingly separated from her family.  As bits and pieces were shared, the story was still not familiar to Claudine.  ISS Canada was convinced that the only way to verify if this family was indeed Claudine’s family would be by conducting a DNA test.  

ISS partner in Burundi agreed to help with the DNA test and verified that the alleged mother had also agreed to participate. 

Claudine received the results and waited until she could come to the office, to open the results for her, as she was too nervous. It was a very emotional moment for her and for ISS Canada. The results indicated that there was a 99.99% probability that the woman in Burundi was the mother of Claudine! ISS Canada was able to give her a copy of her baptism certificate, which provided her with her date of birth.

For the first time, Claudine knew when she could celebrate her birthday!  But she was 2 years older than she thought.

Every person has a universal right to know who they are, and where they belong. This knowledge grows through developing an understanding of one’s origins and identity. The right to know one’s origin is fundamental and deserves protection. It is expressed most clearly in article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Respecting this right requires robust preservation of information about one’s origins – at the very least, registration of birth, including, at a minimum, the time and place of birth, and information on the birth mother. A search for origins should involve professional support provided to and on behalf of persons wishing to trace their birth roots. Such support is essential, given the risks associated with searches inadequately equipped to respond to multiple different outcomes, and the proliferation of social media.

For more information on how ISS Members support people searching for their origins, follow the link below.

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