Adopted Newfoundlander looking for family

Woman born in Carbonear looks to social media for help

Bonnie Belec
Published on April 16, 2014
Kimberley Tara Johnston, born Lillian Michelle Gater in 1974 in Carbonear, is trying to find her biological family. She was placed in foster care when she was an infant and subsequently adopted by a family in Ontario. She tweeted her photo and a note to The Telegram Monday. — Photos courtesy of @keishasmom12345

A woman born in Newfoundland in the 1970s and adopted by a family from Ontario is trying to find members of her extended biological family.

The problem is, Kimberley Tara Johnston doesn’t know much about them.

“I know I was born in Carbonear, and my birth certificate says Lillian Michelle Gater,” she told The Tele-gram Tuesday from her home in Stratford.

She said she was born in 1974 and will be 40 years old on May 21.

“I believe my birth parents are from Bay Roberts. I believe they were both from large families — 13 on my mother’s side and 12 on my father’s,” said Johnston, who is the mother of five and a new grandmother.

She said she was told their last name was “G-A-T-E-R,” she said, spelling it.

“I can’t find any Gaters in Newfoundland. I’ve looked in all different phone books. Nothing,” she said.

Johnston said she was placed in foster care in Carbonear immediately after she was born and stayed with a family until she was six months old. At that time she was adopted by her Ontario family through the Children’s Aid Societies of Ontario.

According to the website,, there are 46 children’s aid societies across that province and each is an independent, non-profit organization run by a board of directors elected from the community.

The organization reports evidence of abuse or neglect of children younger than 16.

The organization also cares for and supervises children who come under its care, provide counselling and support, and oversee children placed for adoption.

“It’s really funny because I contacted them twice … but they said they didn’t do out-of-province adoptions. I said, ‘You did, because I’m here,’” said Johnston, chuckling.

She began her search when she turned 18, but hasn’t gotten anywhere.

Johnston sent a tweet to The Telegram this week looking for help in locating her biological family. She asked if she looks familiar to anyone.

“I thought if I could just get the word out. Maybe someone would recognize me and pass it on to another person and eventually I might get in contact with someone,” she told The Telegram Tuesday.

“I’ve been told to go there and go to the churches in the community and talk to the older ladies because they will talk to me, and everybody knows everybody in small towns, but I haven’t had the opportunity financially, and with children it’s more difficult, but it’s on my bucket list,” she said.

Johnston, whose children range in age from two to 22, said she has no ill feelings towards her biological parents — she just wants to gather some medical background and history about who she is and where she came from.

“I’m fine with the adoption. I have no problem with that. I think that if she felt she couldn’t handle it at the time, then she did the right thing,” she said.

“But I’ve had some medical issues over the years and I’m too young to have gone through what I’ve already gone through. I’ve had three strokes, for crying out loud. It would be nice to know if there is anything in my family history,” she said.

The stay-at-home mom said her four-month-old granddaughter has had some medical issues, too, but, not knowing what her medical background is, she can’t help doctors shed any light on possible conditions.

Not having any luck 22 years ago when she first attempted to track down her biological family, Johnston said with social media becoming so popular she thought she’d give it another try.

 “I’m assuming maybe she wants no contact. I get that. But if anybody in the family knows … I know I have tons of aunts and uncles. I probably have just as many nieces, nephews and cousins, all those wonderful things it would be nice to know,” said the mother of three girls and two boys.

Johnston’s Twitter handle is @keishasmom12345.