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Solving the mystery of Prince Rupert's three abandoned babies

Vancouver Sun logo Vancouver Sun 10/11/2016 Lora Grindlay

Janet Keall, as an eight-year old © Submitted Janet Keall, as an eight-year old For months, the mysterious tale of three abandoned babies who were found to be related to each other decades after they were left behind has been the talk of the town in Prince Rupert.

Now, curious citizens will be able to hear the story of the Prince Rupert babies, who were abandoned at different times and locations throughout the 1970s, first hand from Janet Keall, whose 21-year search for her family turned up two half-siblings earlier this year. Keall will speak at a Prince Rupert town hall on Dec. 9.

Keall, 39, was abandoned as a newborn outside the Prince Rupert hospital. Her search turned up nothing for years, until this summer when she finally struck gold.

Keall was put in touch with two others who had been abandoned as babies in the northern B.C. coastal town of 14,000 people. DNA tests later showed they are half siblings, and share one parent.

They were all found newborn and abandoned within three years and three months of each other. The first was Keall’s older half-sister, Kathie Rennie, who was found on the steps of a house on Feb. 7, 1976. Keall was found outside the hospital a year and eight months later on Oct. 14, 1977. Keall’s half-brother Kevin was found on the steps of a small apartment building on May 23, 1979, a year and seven months after Keall was abandoned.

Keall has pledged to continue looking for information about her family history and that of her half-siblings. She hopes the meeting will result in some new information.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain became intrigued with the story of the three babies abandoned in the town where he has lived his whole life. He is a fourth-generation “Rupertite,” he said.

He wrote to Keall, they spoke and then planned the town hall meeting. Brain is personally splitting the cost of renting the Lester Centre of the Arts with Keall, adding that no municipal money is being used for the event. Keall is picking up her own expenses. 

“It’s a very tight knit, socially connected community. Once from Rupert, always from Rupert. A lot of people feel connected to this story,” Brain, 31, said.

“People in town are really following along. (Keall) is like a celebrity here now.”

Brain hopes that face-to-face connection with the community will help Keall’s search.

“We are all rooting that there is a resolution and that they get that inner peace,” he said.

Keall, who was adopted and raised in Surrey, called the support and kindness she has received from Prince Rupert citizens “remarkable.”

“I have been truly taken in by this community and look forward to coming ‘home’,” she said.

She will give a public speech, answer questions and hopes to have some one-on-one meetings with people.

“I will be releasing never heard announcements. I will be confirming ethnicity of our biological parents. I will also be reporting on data that I have collected on abandonments around the world and a profile of our biological parents,” she said.

 And when she is on stage, she will wonder if some family members are looking back at her.

“Chances are a cousin, an aunt, a friend of our parents could easily be sitting back and wondering that, too. That is why I insist that if anyone has any information to come forward regardless of the details being big or small,” Keall said.

“Kathie and I are now on 23andMe, Ancestry and FamilyTree DNA. We are now sitting back and waiting for matches. It could be any day. It could be two years. It is a matter of time to be linked with biological family.”

Tickets to the event are free. It starts at 6 p.m. Dec. 9.

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