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Adoption: Other sides, stories Add to ...

Many years previous, Hughie had heard a rumour about a baby but, because Kink never confided in him, he'd forgotten all about it until I appeared on the scene. Hughie then gave me the name of a very close and long-time friend of Kassie's, Jean. I was able to locate a very shocked and surprised Jean who related the whole story to me.

On September 15, 1943, Kassie (then 23), Jean and Jean's parents left New Glasgow by train and travelled to St. Catharines, Ont., where Kassie and Jean found jobs working in McKinnon's munitions factory. There, Kassie visited the doctor and was told she was pregnant. She worked (wearing a smock) until March. Then Jean's mother took Kassie to the Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers in Hamilton. Kassie stayed there until I was born in May.

She made two requests: First, she did not want to see me. Second, I was to be adopted out to a Protestant family. Kassie belonged to the Trinity United Church in New Glasgow. Kink, then 25, knew of her pregnancy. The letter from the Adoption Disclosure Agency stated the amount of money he sent to pay for Kassie's stay in Hamilton. Jean told me Kassie was very bitter and ashamed. Kink and Kassie could never marry because he was a strong devout Catholic and Kassie was a member of the Protestant faith. Kassie's family never would have allowed the marriage and Kink never would have crossed the Roman Catholic Church. In the 1940s in New Glasgow, a Protestant and a Catholic marrying was worse than murder.

Later in May, Kassie returned to New Glasgow. She told no one about the baby. Her parents, sister and brothers knew nothing of my existence. Four months later, Kassie entered the School of Nursing at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow, started calling herself Kay, and carried on with her life, never to mention me again - not even to Jean.

On January 10, 2003, exactly one year later, I received a call from the same woman at the Adoption Disclosure Agency verifying that John Kingsley MacDonald was indeed my biological father. From his obituary, I discovered the names of his widow and children. Most lived in Saint John, NB. A friend who had access to a phone book from that city provided me with the phone numbers of possible brothers. The first brother I reached was Kevin. He was stunned. After a lengthy conversation, he asked if he could be the one to tell his brothers and sister. He wanted to "lay it on them." He would have them call me.

I have spoken to all of them. In February I visited my one sister, Lynn, in Vancouver. We talked for four hours. I had to leave to get ready for a wedding we were attending while in Vancouver. I talked to her again the next day. Lynn told me Kevin did not tell her about me - her mother, Rita (Kink's widow), did. Rita started the conversation: "Do you remember the sister you always wanted?"

I have spoken to Rita as well. She told me she had had her suspicions about my existence, but Kink denied it. Rita said she was certain Kink loved Kassie, but they could never be together. I have two more brothers. One of them, Alan, lived in Cambridge (a kilometre-and-a-half from where we live) for three years in the late 1980s and now lives in Clarington, Ont. The other, Keith, lives in Saint John. In June of 2003, we went to visit all the Saint John relatives for Father's Day.

One story was told to me by both Hughie and Jean, though neither realized the other one knew it. In the fall of 1988, Kink drove to New Glasgow and waited outside Kassie's church for her to finish choir practice. He asked her to get in the car as he had something to tell her. At first she refused but then agreed. Kink told her he was dying of cancer. They talked and then he asked if he could kiss her. It was a goodbye between two people who shared a baby girl they never knew. I hope that in their hearts they loved me. They never saw each other again.

It was an exciting year. One day I was an only child; 366 days later I had four half-brothers and a half sister. When I was talking to someone I hadn't spoken to for a while and they asked me, "What's new?" I reply - using the phrase Kevin did when he told his brothers about me - "Grab yourself a cold one, and sit down."

Gail Pettitt

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