In the late seventies, three babies were abandoned in similar ways, born at least 19 months apart, and now DNA confirms that all three are half-siblings.
This year was Janet Keall’s second — and final — attempt to find leads on who left her on the doorsteps of the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital when she was a newborn and that search brought all three siblings together.
Keall’s first appeal 20 years ago revealed nothing, and so she decided to try once more hoping that with social media her message would spread wider. It worked.
On May 9, she received a call from a man who said he was her social worker in Prince Rupert. He said it was nice to see her doing so well.
Before she hung up the phone he added, “you know, I don’t want you to get your hopes up but I just want to tell you something that I kind of always held onto. There was a baby girl abandoned before you and we always thought that you were related.” He told her about the baby girl who was left on a porch outside a home in 1976.
A similar story
Three days later she received an email with the subject line “We have a similar story” from a man in Vancouver.
The email details his abandonment in an apartment stairwell in Prince Rupert more than a year after Keall was found.
“Of course I’m thinking, ‘Well this is what the social worker must have meant but he must have gotten it wrong’,” Keall said.
Instead, he was the third abandoned baby. Kevin, who wants to remain anonymous, and Keall spoke on the phone. After noticing their commonalities, they ordered a private accredited legal DNA test.
While they waited for the results, Keall went through some of her old files from her previous research over the years. Although, she was adopted and grew up in the Lower Mainland and now lives in Prince Edward Island, she had made a trip to Prince Rupert to find more details on her past and to rifle through archives from The Daily News. One of the articles she saved was from 2003 about a woman named Kathie Rennie who had also been abandoned.
Then it clicked. “She was that baby the social worker was talking about,” Keall said.
In the archives
There are three articles in The Daily News archives on all three of the siblings published days after they were found abandoned. An article in The Daily News in February 1976 describes Kathie — a “baby girl found on a Seal Cove doorstep Saturday morning is in satisfactory condition today.”
Kevin was written about in 1979 with more details. He was found early in the morning on a stairwell at the Colleen Apartments on First Avenue West. “The infant Caucasian boy, who was in good health, was wrapped in a tea towl and a fitted sheet, police reported. A penciled note was left with the baby,” which stated he was born May 20 and nothing else.
Keall’s article was in October 1977, and describes her as being found wrapped in a blanket and left at the rear of the Prince Rupert Hospital early Friday morning; the similarities of their story then only coming to light now.
The Daily News reported that Kathie Rennie was found on the doorstep of a house on Feb. 7, 1976. Prince Rupert City and Regional Archives/The Northern View
The Daily News reported an infant boy left abandoned in an apartment stairwell. Kevin was left with a note that read he was born May 20, 1979. Prince Rupert City and Regional Archives/The Northern View
The Daily News reported on Janet Keall being abandoned as an infant outside of the Prince Rupert hospital on Oct. 14, 1977. Prince Rupert City and Regional Archives/The Northern View
The DNA results
A few weeks later, the DNA results came back. She read the results to Kevin over the phone. The first portion of the test came back negative for being full siblings, but they are 97.3 per cent confirmed to be half-siblings.
“I was sobbing. I could hardly even speak. He’s on the other end of the phone going, ‘You’re my sister,’ and he’s all excited,” she said.
She flew to Vancouver to see him, and let her family meet with him first.
“Everyone was out in the backyard. It was a beautiful sunny day. I walked around the corner and we just embraced and hugged and cried and kept touching each other. It was beautiful,” she said.
Janet Keall meets her half-brother, Kevin, who was also abandoned in Prince Rupert as an infant. Rupert’s Babies/Facebook
But then there was one more — Rennie lives in Maple Ridge and Keall didn’t want to leave without meeting her.
They have the same blue eyes, the same shape, same cheek bones, the same mouth and they’re around the same height.
“We met and it was the same, I don’t even know how you can say really but it was the same kind of intuition. Same kind of natural ‘I get you’ type stuff,” she said.
On June 16, they submitted a DNA test and last week Keall opened up the results from the second DNA test which confirmed that they are 99.96 half-sisters.
The search continues
There was a similar case in California, where a woman abandoned three children and they all eventually found each other and then the mother. Their story aired on ABC News on May 6.
The story of Prince Rupert’s three abandoned babies reuniting more than 35 years later, anything is possible and the story may continue to unfold. Keall said if her mother is still around, she’s hoping someone will come forward for her.
“We’re going to keep searching. The RCMP have made a statement that they’re investigating,” Keall said. “The three of us have all agreed that we want to find our biological mother.”
If anyone has any information about the three abandoned babies in the late 1970s, Keall asks that they visit her website Rupertsbaby.com where they can find her contact details.