Woman aban­doned as a new­born finds her birth fa­ther

Keall’s 22-year search un­cov­ered four other half sib­lings also left by the mother

The Province - - FRONT PAGE - LORA GRINDLAY lgrind­lay@post­media.com

With only a first name, an old Prince Ru­pert Sec­ondary year­book and the B.C. phone di­rec­tory, Janet Keall has found her birth fa­ther.

Her 22-year search to find her birth par­ents af­ter be­ing aban­doned as a new­born in Prince Ru­pert in the 1970s has un­cov­ered four half sib­lings, all of whom were also aban­doned, and myr­iad se­crets held by her birth mom un­til she died last year just months be­fore Keall’s re­search led to her.

And the re­cent dis­cov­ery of her birth fa­ther has un­veiled an­other shroud of se­crecy. Her fa­ther, a pro­fes­sional man liv­ing in B.C., did not know that Keall’s mom, his girl­friend in Prince Ru­pert for a year in the 1970s, had be­come preg­nant and aban­doned their child in Oc­to­ber 1977 out­side the Prince Ru­pert Re­gional Hos­pi­tal. He has been mar­ried for decades but Keall is his only child.

Find­ing him is a mile­stone that Keall never thought she would see when she be­gan look­ing into her back­ground years ago. Old-fash­ioned sleuthing led to the man ear­lier this year. An old friend of her birth mom gave Keall the first name of some­one she re­called her mom dat­ing.

A vol­un­teer who has helped her re­search ar­chives in Prince Ru­pert, Robb Ry­dde, searched high school year books and passed on a po­ten­tial sur­name. A sim­ple phone di­rec­tory led to him. She called at the end of April and last week a DNA pa­ter­nity test de­ter­mined that Keall and the man have a 99.9996 per cent prob­a­bil­ity of be­ing fa­ther and daugh­ter.

“He was in a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship with my bi­o­log­i­cal mother when I was con­ceived,” said Keall, 39. “He had no idea about me at all. There cer­tainly is a shock and a sad­ness but in the search for my bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents it is a happy end­ing.

“We cer­tainly do have phys­i­cal sim­i­lar­i­ties. You can see it. I am so happy. I am look­ing for­ward to meet­ing him. It still feels sur­real.

“He just kept say­ing, ‘Thank you for not quit­ting. Not many peo­ple would have kept look­ing, es­pe­cially with noth­ing to go on.’ ”

The two have shared photos and spent hours on the phone to­gether. They will meet in B.C. in June but have agreed not to re­veal his iden­tity to pro­tect the mom, who se­ri­ally aban­doned five ba­bies from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s and never told a soul.

“This story and this woman have im­pacted many lives. We don’t have the right to pub­li­cize her iden­tity. She’s not here and there are liv­ing fam­ily mem­bers in­clud­ing the son that she raised,” Keall said. “We would never want to cause him any fur­ther dis­tress.”

The mys­tery of Keall’s birth and her search has cap­tured the hearts of many across North America. The story of her birth mom and the se­rial aban­don­ment of five ba­bies is be­lieved to be the only known story of its kind.

She plans to write a book, has some in­ter­est in a film on her story, and still be­lieves there could be one more baby aban­doned by her mom that hasn’t been found.

“It just seems so amaz­ing. Even though there have been some pos­i­tives in the truths I have un­cov­ered, there has also been some sad­ness,” Keall said.

“This past year has been so shock­ing. I’m still pro­cess­ing it. But now I have this won­der­ful gentle­man who is my fa­ther and I am so happy.”

JANET KEALL

Janet Keall was aban­doned on the steps of the Prince Ru­pert Hos­pi­tal just a few hours af­ter she was born and was adopted by a Sur­rey fam­ily. She has spent years look­ing for her birth par­ents and has put much of the puz­zle to­gether. Next month she will meet her birth fa­ther for the first time.

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