The woman who was abandoned at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital in 1977

The woman who was abandoned at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital in 1977

Abandoned at birth, woman renews appeal to find her parents

She was abandoned on the back of a hospital doorstep, and 38 years later that is still all she knows about her origins.

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.

Finding forgiveness

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 where they can find all her contact details.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rose Sawka, a 91-year old Acropolis Manor resident received her COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 20, one day after an outbreak was declared at the long-term care facility. Her son Terry Sawka visited with her through the window, like she is seen in an Oct. 2020 photo. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Acropolis Manor COVID-19 cases jump to 20 confirmed

Prince Rupert long term care facility received vaccinations

Illicit drug use has spread in the Northern Health region and overdose emergency calls increased in Prince Rupert by 29.5 per cent from 2019 to 2020. (Photo:THE NEWS/files)
Overdose emergency calls in Prince Rupert spikes by 43.6 % in five years

Northern Health issues illicit drug use warnings

Glenn Hall, resident at Yellowhead Pioneer Residence Assisted Living in Barrierem B.C. received their first COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 19. (Pam Simpson photo)
Acropolis residents and staff to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Prince Rupert long term care residents will receive the vaccine on Jan. 20

An outbreak of COVID-19 was declared on Jan. 19 at Acropolis Manor. The long-term care home also had an influenza outbreak nearly two years ago.
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Acropolis Manor

Prince Rupert long-term care home has four resident, three staff cases

Lax Kxeen Elementary School has two different active notices for potential COVID-19 exposure after three adult lab-confirmed cases of the virus were identified in Prince Rupert schools, School District 52 released in a statement on Jan. 18. (Photo K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Three adult COVID-19 cases result in four potential exposures in city schools

Prince Rupert School District 52 calls special open meeting

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

Most Read