Poetry: it inevitably relates to -- among others -- identity, history, culture, class, race, community, economics, politics, power, loss, health, desire, regret, language, form and genre disruption, love ... as well as the absences thereofs. The same may be said about Adoption.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Roy Moller first participated in Poets on Adoption in July 2013; you can see his first offering HERE. Subsequently, he had his adoption records opened in May 2015 and now knows much more about his  background and the circumstances of my birth. Poets on Adoption is delighted that he has chosen to provide an update:

From Roy Moller: "Here's what I now know:"


I was adopted when I was a few weeks old. My adoptive mum, Mollie, would tell me how she and my dad, Peter,  picked me because of the smile I gave them when they first laid eyes on me, so I was more special than other children whose parents just had to accept whatever they got. At sixteen I asked her for information about my birth parents. She gave me an excerpted birth certificate and a form filled in by my birth mother, Carol Hoffman, and the adoption caseworker, Miss M. Duncan, in Edinburgh prior to my birth as James Seymour Hoffman.  It gave me some facts, some background, but it took until last year to find out more of the story. 

My bio parents were both Canadians. My father, whose name was not given, was married, a photographer at a newspaper called the Toronto Telegram, and my mother worked as a journalist there.  I was conceived in Toronto in October, 1962 and born in Edinburgh in July, 1963.

Within two weeks of my birth, Carol signed consent for my adoption. I reckon she may have been looking to head back to Toronto as soon as possible. It was too early to be legal, but I was taken home by the Moller family. On 13th January, 1964 Miss Duncan wrote to my dad, Peter: "I'm sure all will go well, and I was pleased to hear Roy is flourishing and growing big. I trust he will always be a joy and blessing."  Thanks to their care, I did flourish - but, having been born with dyspraxia, I wasn't always easy to be around.

Miss Duncan received a second consent form. On it she noted: "This arrived from Canada today." It was April 6th, 1964,  a year to the day since she interviewed Carol and filled out the form  that I'd receive when I was sixteen.

The year the Toronto Telegram folded, 1971, Carol married news editor Max Crittenden, who already had two children. Carol never had another child. In June 1979, Peter, Mollie and Roy Moller jumbo-jetted from Prestwick, Scotland, to Pearson, Toronto. We spent time in the city, where I could have passed my birth mother, birth father on the street and not known, then headed out to Saskatchewan, to the prairie house of Peter's cousin in Moose Jaw. From there we made excursions, but as with Toronto, knew of no direct connections. I've now found my great-grandfather died from Spanish Flu in the hospital in Regina, in the same building where we had stopped for Sunday tea.

Peter died in 1982 and Mollie in 2009. Last year I found that Carol passed away in 2014 and this year that my birth father, whose identity I finally confirmed, died in 2001.



Since having my adoption records opened I have gone to Toronto to meet members Carol's family and made contact with my father's family. I see myself in a new light and have gone from knowing very little of my origins to having researched a good deal of my background. I had no idea where I really came from and have now traced ancestors back centuries.

Writing about this has been my main poetic focus. I have written a pamphlet-length sequence of poems about my birth mother and have been moved to write some poems about what I'm learning my birth father's experiences as a soldier in World War Two.

My birth mother Carol when she was at the University of Toronto.



I'd like to share some poems from the sequence called Carol. I hope you enjoy them.

Wayfaring Stranger

The Scottish Society for the Adoption of Children, Edinburgh,

Saturday, April 6th, 1963.

Also home to the Girls Guildry, number two,
Coates Crescent keeps clock click and spare chair
for girls and women ripe this lambing season  –  their
bellies crammed with hope for barren Midlothian homes.

Winter ’63 kicks on in meltwater surges.
Cramond’s waves leap over the causeway,
war invasion defences shudder;
Scotland’s spring is stirring with me.      

The errant Canadian carries me in her; bears me
beyond the Georgian threshold, walks me in
as a bumpful of awkward.  She’s bid sit down
by Miss Duncan, caseworker/secretary who

dips a nib in Quink, burnishes Carol,
sets down her glider licence, adds an inventive
working round that blank line of dots
that lies as a trap for the father.

Selkie Baby

Hello, I’m Jamie, eight months part of Carol.
Behind us lies potential newsroom rumour –
flak, snipers, tavern talk –  who’s expecting?

She evacuated the accidental article,
the darkroom creation. On a contact sheet, I’d be
circled: here's the shot, publish this.
She’s pregnant minus the pram-pushing pay-off.
She’s expecting to release me
and back into the sea.

Cranes embellish slab foundations.
Beyond them lies the Old Town 
cragging on The Bridges. Sun smears

through voluptuous jumbles of stone.
Beyond her lies her leaving, the dropping
of her selkie sealskin.


of a toddler posted uptown to the Scottish Society for 
Adoption to forward par avion –  or via the hold of a Royal Mail 
Steamship.  From the Queen City of the Forth River, 
my unsuspecting greeting to a secret single mom.  
A smile for the woman I’d screamed in the face of as she sat 
propped up, her suitcase open, ready to register
left luggage.  

I’ve just seen a snapshot of a sailboat wedding conducted in 
'71 at Queen City Yacht Club, Toronto.  She’s clasping a 
bouquet, pretty.
Her groom’s children are smart and skinny.
And I wonder where I am.


Brown dirt, brown dirt, flashing silo, brown dirt.
From a shack on the edge of Moose Jaw,
mileage made from an afternoon as dreich as a Sabbath

at home.  Gavina – Dad’s odd cousin steering on past
brown dirt, brown dirt, flashing silo… Regina wasn’t open.

I remember inertia – Regina never quitting its doldrums –
not for tourists, not on a Sunday. The General Hospital served

tepid tea in tired bone china.

Now I know in that building
great-grandfather Allen,

too old to fight, was beaten by Spanish influenza
spread by soldiers returning from brown dirt, brown dirt,
flashing rifle, brown dirt. Saskatchewan boys plucked from  
trenches.                     Timebombs welcomed home.


Do not imagine that the exploration/ends, that she has yielded all her mystery/

or that the map you hold/cancels further discovery.
Gwendolyn MacEwen, The Discovery

See, I didn’t know
how this face was made, but I’d ask it
plenty: What do I do now?

After the transatlantic crossing,
before the transcendental coaxing
did you search an old world mirror, too?
And once returned from your undisclosed assignment
how long till the immaculate fix

of distance and time
planed the edge off
giving up a squirming thing
who didn’t take the father’s brown eyes. No,
you brought your blue/grey eyes
to me to face in every mirror.

And now I know these are from you,
these coloured reproductions,
what do I do now?

Roy Moller was born in Edinburgh in 1963 and started writing poetry in his teens. He moved into songwriting and performing in his twenties, eventually releasing seven solo albums, playing a session for Marc Riley on BBC 6Music and one as a member of Jesus, Baby!, a group put together by Neu! Reekie!'s Michael Pedersen and fronted by Davy Henderson. His poetry has appeared in the likes of  Ink, Sweat and Tears, And Other Poems, Outsider Poetry, In Between Hangovers and the Rebel Poetry/RNLI anthology The Sea. ​Roy's first collection, Imports, was published in December, 2014 and he is a contributor to Neu! Reekie! #UntitledTwo, appearing at the anthology's launch event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August, 2016.  

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