Colwood, B.C. man finds Scottish birth certificate, discovers he was kidnapped as a baby
COLWOOD -- Ginette is preparing to share what she never expected to tell: her husband AJ’s story.
"He was always saying, ‘I hope I have the energy and knowledge to write a book about what happened to me,’" Ginette says.
But he didn’t get the chance. AJ died four days ago.
"So that’s why I wanted to share what he’s not able to talk about," Ginette says.
The story begins when Ginette was going through some papers and saw a birth certificate featuring an unfamiliar name, Kenneth McIntosh. AJ said his parents first showed him the document when he was 13.
"They told him they adopted him," Ginette says. "But [they said] they didn’t really want him."
She says AJ left home at 16 but didn’t really start looking for his birth mother until he was in his 40s. That’s when Ginette suggested they write to the address on his birth certificate in Scotland.
"A couple months later somebody finally phones us," Ginette recalls. "They say, ‘We are really sorry, we opened the letter but it’s no house anymore.’"
The caller said what was once a house was now a park. Then they offered to share AJ’s search with the local newspaper. The paper published the information and a couple weeks later AJ received another call from Scotland.
"She said, ‘Somebody’s looking for Kenneth McIntosh?’" Ginette recalls. "And [AJ] said, ‘That’s me.’"
The caller asked for proof. AJ told her about the birth certificate. The caller was silent for a while.
"And then she said, ‘We knew we would find you before your mom died.’"
The caller said she was AJ’s aunt, had pictures from when he was a baby, and said his birth mother, Martha, was living in Vancouver.
Ginette and AJ eventually tracked her down at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
"He was really anxious," Ginette says.
AJ was feeling so many emotions and wondering about too many questions, including what to call Martha.
"I said, ‘Your heart will tell you what to say when you walk in,’" Ginette recalls. "He walked in and he said, ‘Hi, Mom.’"
Although they hadn’t seen each other in almost 50 years, mother and son connected immediately.
"The room even lit up," Ginette recalls with a smile. 'It was unbelievable!"
But the most unbelievable moment of all was when AJ’s mom said she hadn’t put him up for adoption. She said he’d been kidnapped.
"[As a baby] he was kidnapped," Ginette says. "[Martha] told us all the details."
Martha said they’d moved from Scotland to Canada to be with AJ’s birth father. The relationship didn't work out and she was left a single mother, in a foreign country in 1948.
Then, one night she said she returned home from working at the Empress Hotel to find the babysitters and her 18-month-old gone. They were never found.
"It was horrible," Ginette says. "She didn’t have a good life after."
AJ grew up in Ontario and the parents who raised him have died. Martha remarried and had more children.
"She always told the kids, ‘You have a brother somewhere. One day we’ll find him,’" Ginette says.
Then Ginette shows me the pictures from the night they finally did meet him.
"They have the same habits, same nose, same fingers," Ginette laughs, pointing to photographs of AJ and his newfound siblings smiling and crying together.
It couldn’t have gone better. Ginette says her husband had finally found what he’d always felt was missing in his life.
"When we got home, he said, ‘I have brothers! I have sisters! I have nieces and nephews!’" Ginette smiles.
AJ spent the next 25 years loving, and being loved, by his family. And Ginette says that’s why he wanted to share his story — to inspire others to keep hope alive.
"Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up," Ginette recalls AJ’s words. "Love is there somewhere."