'I am . . . looking forward to the day I meet them'
Woman left on steps of hospital as a baby searches for her parents
Lora Grindlay
The Province

September 29, 2004


CREDIT: Jason Payne, The Province
Janet Keall, now a mother of two children, feels no anger toward her birth parents, who abandoned her in Prince Rupert.


For Janet Keall, there is no paper trail leading back to her birth, no faded documents with clues to her past and no record at all of when or where she came into the world.

She was wrapped in a bedspread and abandoned on the back steps of Prince Rupert Hospital on Oct. 14, 1977. She was found at 1 a.m., and doctors guessed she was between two and four hours old.

Nurses at the hospital gave her a name, Bonnie Vanessa Hope, and she lived in a foster home until she was adopted by Surrey's Gordon and Jerrilyn Keall when she was four months old.

As her 27th birthday approaches, she feels the burden of not knowing where she came from.

"The more time that goes by, the harder it gets to approach my birthdate," Keall said.

"It feels like the weight gets heavier every year. I've had a great life, I really want to emphasize that. I just keep thinking to myself that another year has gone by and I haven't found them."

The Vancouver mother of two received information on her adoption from the B.C. government when she was 18. All the sections relating to her birth were marked "unknown" or were crossed out.

"It had my adoption to my parents at the very end and that was it," she said.

The Kealls were waiting for a baby to adopt when they heard a radio news report about the abandoned newborn in Prince Rupert.

"I said, 'Oh, we could have that baby.' I was just joking to my husband," Jerrilyn Keall said yesterday.

In January 1978, the couple got a call from a social worker.

"We got a call asking us if we would accept a child that they didn't know anything about. They knew nothing -- that's what they said to us," said Keall. "I said, 'Yes, we would.'"

They picked her up at a foster home where she lived with 18 other kids.

Keall has already done extensive legwork in her search, and as a result of two articles in the Prince Rupert Daily News, she followed up some leads.

In June 1997, a woman called her at work and said she had been wondering how she was doing. She wouldn't give Keall her name but said her husband found her on the hospital steps on Oct. 14, 1977, while they waited for a family member who was in surgery.

"Do they do surgery at 1 a.m.? Maybe they do," she said. "It was kind of weird, but I don't know if I'm reading too much into it."

Then after another article in March 2003, she got a call from a man named Greg White who told her he believed her mom was a Prince Rupert woman he used to know named Joanne Clements.

He told her they partied together in the '70s and then he learned she was pregnant.

"He said she basically dropped out of the scene and word on the street was she moved farther down B.C. to get a better life," recalled Keall.

Not wanting to shut any doors, Leall wrote a form letter explaining her situation to 400 Clements listed in B.C. She got many responses but nothing useful. Many who responded said they had other family members in Saskatchewan and in Europe.

So she sent the letter to 150 Clements in Saskatchewan and Europe, but had no luck.

Keall, who works at a downtown Vancouver real-estate firm, said she's been frustrated at the dead ends, but feels no anger toward her birth parents.

"I could have been in a dumpster, dead. You think of that," she said. "I am just so looking forward to the day I meet them."

Prince Rupert RCMP Const. Jagdev Uppal said police files on the abandoned baby were purged long ago, but police will happily receive tips at 250-624-2136.

"If for some reason they don't want to contact her and they've got some information, I'd be more than happy to help," said Uppal.

Information can also be e-mailed to lookingformyparents@hotmail.com. Information provided to The Province will also be passed onto Keall.


 The Vancouver Province 2004