Kelowna woman searching for sister believed to be in Central Alberta
Baby Mason, wherever you are, your sister — also Baby Mason — is looking for you.
A woman from Kelowna, B.C., who was adopted as a child and who has traced her biological roots back to the Central Alberta community of Provost, is looking for her sister, who was also adopted by another family.
“I just cannot wait to see her or even get a picture of her or just to be near her. Just can’t imagine that,” says Jane Wilkinson, 68, who began the journey back to her beginnings in 2009.
Lorraine Hirning, a friend of hers who is also from Kelowna, is trying to help Wilkinson find her biological sister. “We’re convinced if this individual is living between Edmonton and Red Deer, that they may see it (the information in this column).”
Wilkinson didn’t know she had a biological sister until she was stirred to look at her own adoption papers.
The information was always there if she wanted to look at it, but she was happy, had a good family life and never felt the need.
When she decided to look into her past, she discovered that her biological mother had a daughter 14 months before Wilkinson was born, with the same biological father. The two parents never married and went on to live separate lives with separate families.
Wilkinson has learned that her biological mother was Betty (Beatrice) Mason, who grew up in the Provost area.
As an adult, Betty had moved to Edmonton, following an older sister there to work.
It was in Edmonton that Betty would become pregnant and give up a baby daughter for adoption 14 months before she then gave birth to Wilkinson. Both children had the same biological father. The parents knew each other for at least three years.
While Wilkinson now knows the identity of her biological father, she does not want to reveal it to save possible embarrassment to his family.
Wilkinson was born on June 28, 1947, at Royal Alexander Hospital in Edmonton. Her sister was born in Edmonton in April, 1946.
Wilkinson has learned, through the Alberta Adoption Registry, that her sister, who would be 69 now, was adopted to a family in “rural Alberta”.
The only information the registry will provide is that which is considered “non-identifying.”
Her sister’s adoptive family religion was Baptist, Anglican, and in 1946 the parents had a 17-year-old adopted son, 15-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. The adoptive mother was 39, her origins were Scottish and English, her occupation was clerk and teacher prior to staying home for her family. The adoptive father was 50, of English and Irish heritage, and he was a farmer and “plasterer.”
“That’s all I got. I do not know if she went north, south, east or west,” said Wilkinson who was aware at an early age that she herself was adopted.
During a course she was taking in 2009 about the inner child, there was an exercise as she sat in a circle to imagine she was her own mother, and what would she say to her as a child.
“And of course I started to cry because what would she have said to me.” That’s when she began to look at her adoption information, something her adoptive mother was always open to.
Her investigation eventually led Wilkinson to call someone in Provost who turned out to be her cousin. That woman listened to Wilkinson for an hour and then said, “Your birth mother’s sister lives right across the street from us. She’s the only one that’s still alive of the four sisters.”
That woman was “Aunt Mary.” No one in Betty Mason’s family had ever known about the two girls.
Wilkinson, a retired teacher, and her husband Warren then drove from Kelowna to meet Mary who would also dearly like to meet her niece, the unidentified sister. Time is running out. Mary will turn 100 this year.
The Masons were from Hayter originally, about 10 kms east of Provost, before moving to Provost where Betty grew up. Wilkinson learned her biological mother had passed away in 1985 at the age 0f 62. She gave birth to Jane when she was 23.
As it would turn out, Betty Mason never had any other children, even after she married later to someone who was not Wilkinson’s biological father.
Wilkinson said her biological sister may not know she was adopted. She may never want to look even if she did know. Or maybe she’s not even alive.
If her sister ever looked at her adoption papers, she would also be Baby Mason, because they used the birth mother’s name to identify the child.
“She doesn’t know I exist. It’s just something I have to do. I want to find her. That would finish off my roots and really she’s the closest person that is related to me.”
“We’re all getting so old, I just hope I find her.”
Wilkinson never had her own biological children, which to her makes the search for her sister even more important.
As a child, Wilkinson lived northeast of Edmonton, in Whitford with her adopted family. They moved to Edmonton when she was in Grade 2 and then in 1961 to Kelowna where she has resided ever since.
Her friend Hirning was also adopted, and born in Alberta. They happened to meet in Kelowna.
Hirning, 59, found her biological parents when she was 19 and has connected to her Alberta siblings. In the 70s, she also worked for a volunteer organization called Parent Finders and has helped reunite 32 adoptees with their biological families.
While she is not involved in that work anymore, she said she has been spending time every day trying to help Wilkinson find her sister.
“It’s my dream because I know how much it means to someone else.”
The searching continues.
Wilkinson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-860-6474.