Janet Keall has spent the past 20 years looking for her biological mother

After 21 years of searching, Janet Keall finds the mother who abandoned her

Janet Keall found the mother who abandoned her as an infant in Prince Rupert, three months after she died.

For 21 years, Janet Keall has been searching for her biological mother — a woman who left her on the steps of the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital in 1977 — and at last she found her, three months too late.

“Could we have done anything?” Keall said, fighting back tears, to a captivated audience at the Lester Centre of Arts on Dec. 9.

She named her Sarah, the mother she would never know, to protect her identity. After Prince Rupert, Sarah moved to the Lower Mainland, a five minute drive from where Keall had grown up with her adoptive parents.

The town hall event, that highlighted Keall’s journey, began with an introduction from Mayor Lee Brain, then Keall came out on stage to tell her story.

Janet Keall was in Prince Rupert to reveal the discovery that she finally found the mother who abandoned her as an infant, but she had died three months ago.Janet Keall was in Prince Rupert to reveal the discovery that she finally found the mother who abandoned her as an infant, but she had died three months ago. SHANNON LOUGH/THE NORTHERN VIEW

The Rupert’s Baby social media campaign was launched in April this year, when Keall decided to renew her search one last time. The appeal led her to find her half-brother, Kevin, and half-sister, Kathie Rennie, both proven to be related through DNA testing.

The campaign evolved — the Rupert’s Babies were now looking for their biological mother. They put their DNA into Ancestry.ca, Family Tree DNA and 23andme and in November Rennie found a first cousin, Amy, on the maternal side. However, Amy was adopted.

Then Rennie was connected to her father, Barry, who had no recollection of the mother.

Keall went on a mission to find Amy’s biological mother, as well as her own. In that search, she discovered two more half-siblings, whose names she has also kept anonymous for privacy reasons.

The one sibling, who she calls Rose, only lived for 39 days. She was born with a rare genetic condition and died in the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

As for the potential half-brother, he provided a DNA sample and one week ago, on Dec. 2, Keall got the results.”I was sitting in the exact same room where I opened up those documents 21 years ago and got nothing, and finally I had something. We found her, 99.6 per cent, she is our biological mother,” Keall said and the room broke out into applause.

The news has been a shock to her half-brother, whose name she did not release. Now, Keall said, the four half-siblings can get to know each other and perhaps the three of them can learn more about their biological mother through the brother who was raised by her.

What Keall does know is that her mother had a tough life. “We don’t take it personally,” she said. “She wasn’t a bad person.”

There is still more of the story to be told. Keall plans to write a book and she still wants to search for her biological father.

Janet Keall, with Mayor Lee Brain and Jerrilyn, the mother who adopted her after she was abandoned as an infant in Prince Rupert.Janet Keall, with Mayor Lee Brain and Jerrilyn, the mother who adopted her after she was abandoned as an infant in Prince Rupert. SHANNON LOUGH/THE NORTHERN VIEW

Mid-story, before the audience learned that her biological mother had died three months before Keall could meet her, Mayor Lee Brain took the stage. Brain presented Keall’s adoptive mother, Jerrilyn, with an Honourary Rupert plaque to recognize the hard work she has done.

Brain said more than 700 people streamed the event live through CityWest, making it the most streamed event in Prince Rupert.

On Saturday, Keall will also have a meet-and-greet at the Ocean View Hotel at 3 p.m. and then she is taking a few weeks to herself to let it all soak in.

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

Just Posted

UPDATED- More wolf sightings – numerous encounters

Avoid attracting wolves with food sources and keep pets inside

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue explains BBQ blaze fire safety

Outdoor cooking safety needs fires extinguishers ready

Cloak-and-dagger ninja deliveries

Whining kids at home may be creating the need for wining moms at home

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Smithers woman awarded $55K in RCMP excessive force suit

Irene Joseph alleged false arrest and assault and battery related to a 2014 incident in Smithers

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Most Read