She was abandoned on the back of a hospital doorstep, and 38 years later that is still all she knows about her origins.
Janet Keall began the search for her birth parents in 1996. Her efforts painted a clearer picture of who discovered her but nothing about who left her.
The media attention helped her learn about the couple who found her as an newborn wriggling in the folds of a green bedspread. But when she searched for her health records and police records she came up empty.
“What are the odds? Not only do I have nothing to go by but even just the little things: what was my health like, what did I weigh?” Keall said.
In her first search to find her biological parents her story only reached TV broadcasts and newsprint. Now, her second attempt stems from curiosity that social media may give her story more traction.
“I do appreciate that a woman doesn’t just go through life and abandon a child and it’s no big deal. I feel compassion for her if she was ever to see me so public in the media, which could be quite daunting,” Keall said, which is why she set up a website to give the woman some assurances that she doesn’t want anything from her other than to meet her and maybe have some kind of relationship.
She said she has spoken with Prince Rupert RCMP to confirm that the police will not pursue any legal repercussions for her abandonment.
Left on a doorstep
What she does know is that she was found on the doorstep of the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital on October 14, 1977
Years later, when she searched out some of the nurses who cared for her, they told her that her umbilical cord wasn’t taken care of properly and she could have been up to a day old.
She spent the next five months at an orphanage until she was adopted out to a family in the Lower Mainland.
Her parents, Jerrilyn and Gordon, raised her in Surrey. For the first two years, every time the phone rang they would wonder if it was her biological parents asking for their daughter back.
Keall was initially registered as Bonnie Vanessa Hope at the hospital, and because of the adoption regulations at the time, her adopted parents couldn’t officially adopt her or register her name officially for two years.
Her parents told Keall her story and how they came to adopt her. They were always open and non-judgemental to her past but Keall said they couldn’t fix the pain their adopted daughter was going through.
“I had to walk through everything that I had to go through to be here today and be quite happy and balanced,” she said adding that as a young adult she had trouble trying to form her identity.
It wasn’t until she held her first-born in her arms that she gained a new perspective. “I held him and thought, I get it now because that bond is so strong. If someone is in such bad way to abandon their child it’s not about me. I had this moment where instantly I forgave her. Whereas before I still had bits of anger pop up. I haven’t felt angry or anything towards her for many years,” Keall.
Nearly 10 years later, Keall made a trip back to Prince Rupert with her two sons to show them where she was left. She was touched when one of her sons asked if he could sit in the spot where his mother was found. He told her, “I want to know what it feels like.” It was an emotional moment but it showed Keall that her children understood.
Her youngest son has been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, anxiety disorder and used to have seizures, which is another reason she wants to find her biological family. She is hoping to learn more about the family’s medical history.
The search began 20 years ago, and now Keall is hoping that this time around she will get some leads to find her parents.
She has already received hundreds of messages but nothing concrete yet.
If anyone in the Prince Rupert area knows anything about Keall’s family she asks that they visit her website Rupertsbaby.com where they can find all her contact details.