Adopted Newfoundlander looking for family

Bonnie Belec
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Woman born in Carbonear looks to social media for help

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.

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

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.



Organizations: Aid Societies of Ontario.According

Geographic location: Carbonear, Bay Roberts, Newfoundland Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Lynn Assimacopoulos
    March 30, 2016 - 01:27

    My new book called "Separated Lives" is a true story about the adoption of a baby boy and years later a friend taking him on a fascinating but uncertain journey to search for his birth parents. It is available from Dorrance Publishing (in Pittsburgh, PA), Barnes & Noble and Author: Lynn Assimacopoulos

  • Karen Hatch
    November 26, 2015 - 14:28

    Oh and thirdly Kimberly, I wanted to get my story out there again too. Thanks.

  • Karen Hatch
    November 26, 2015 - 14:19

    Good luck Kimberly! I've been looking for my mom's mom ( my grandmother) for many many years. I'm telling you this because she was also apparently born in Carbonear. My grandmother's name was 'Mary Kennedy' adopted by Lawrence and Elizabeth Kennedy of Carters Hill in St. John's, Newfoundland. Mary Kennedy was born in or around 1920 or 21ish. She married my grandfather Maurice Oliver and had my mom Anne Oliver and 3 other kids who were all in foster care after my grandfather died. I know she had at least one more child out of wedlock who grew up in the foster system. She then married Clarence Williams and had several other children whom also grew up in the foster system. It's like she is a ghost, I can not find out one thing about her birth parents and my mom has had sooooo many health issues; heart surgery, blood clots, COPD, and a rare type of cancer that my sister has had too. All I want from her bio family is heath related answers too. She has a bio brother from the Kennedys and we've contacted him and he hung up the phone in my moms face. Pifft family right! I would love if the telegram ran my story, she had so many kids and was born here and adopted here ( I know it's an older case and they didn't keep records like they did in the '70's) but like I said it's as if she is a ghost but I met her when I was a child, I can just barely remember meeting her. She was a sweet woman, troubled; but sweet and gentle I remember . Kimberly I am saying all this for two reasons, one being I hope someone can find your family because I know how frustrating it is when there is a gap or a hole there that you can't seem to fill and the second is, how can anybody find your family when you were born here and adopted out of province when they can't even find someone who was born here and adopted here. It's so frustrating to not know who or where you completely came from. I do hope you find the answers you are looking for Kimberly. If I had a dollar for everytime I've written about my grandmother and her birth information and to every place I've send it to...well you know. Good luck!

  • Lori
    November 19, 2015 - 08:07

    For the still missing links, go to Adoption Search Registry on Facebook. There are search angels there who will help for just a 'Thank You!' when they have solved the case.

  • norma
    November 18, 2015 - 19:07

    try a group called newfoundland and labrador adoptees they have helped a lot of people find their biological families

  • goldie Smith
    May 23, 2014 - 08:25

    I am so happy to hear that you have found your family. I know all to well how you feel and it's amazing. I felt so.empty but mow am complete :)

  • emma r
    April 18, 2014 - 21:36

    i found an obit,,with aubrey's name in it..believe he is living in halifax,ns

    • Paula Dubovy
      May 22, 2014 - 04:21

      Statistics of canada, file with them for your original birth certificate, thats what I did and then did a search on FB of the family name and found my blessed they are now in my life after 39 years

  • julie cunningham
    April 18, 2014 - 11:12

    my daughter was searching for her family from Trinity Bay there. We got a lot of leads searching the cemeteries on-line in that area. We also posted on several of the communities walls in Gambo and St.John. We were lucky when a distant cousin saw one of our posts and talked about it with her Grandad! That started a chain of emails and 3 months later my daughter was re-united with her dad! We spent a lot of time just reading community web sites as they are historical! You never know, one of your siblings could be a local politician! Lol! I hope this might be of some help and good luck to you!

  • Christine Noseworthy
    April 17, 2014 - 20:08

    My husband is from that area and says there aren't any Gators but there are families of Vaders in that area> Maybe the last name you have was misspelled.

    • wanda
      November 20, 2015 - 13:38

      Maybe Vaters? My family's anaestors are Vaters from Carbonear and Victoria Carbonear that is, not British Colunbia! Check into that name! Might help ya along and good luck

  • andria donnelly
    April 17, 2014 - 13:30

    Is it possible that the name Gater is misread and could be Gates? In my searches, I found that the misspelling/reading of names was one of the walls to finding people. Good luck in your search.

  • Rod
    April 17, 2014 - 07:54

    the first thing that probably be done is to get the ORIGINAL birth certificate from vital statistics. that may give her some very important information in to finding her family. My friend did it with success and I will be doing it soon. Good Luck.

  • Rod
    April 17, 2014 - 07:52

    the first thing that probably be done is to get the ORIGINAL birth certificate from vital statistics. that may give her some very important information in to finding her family. My friend did it with success and I will be doing it soon. Good Luck.

  • Kimberly johnston aka Lillian Michelle Vaters
    April 17, 2014 - 05:23

    Thanks for all you kind works and support! Found birthmother my 2 brothers and a nephew :) still in search of Aubrey Vaters thx

    • Mary Ann
      April 17, 2014 - 12:54

      So happy to hear that you've found your family!!! Hope you're able to find out some information about your medical background.

    • tina
      April 19, 2014 - 17:54

      hi i would like for you to contact me as i think you are my cousin on your dads side either e-mail or facebook

  • Tina Mercer
    April 16, 2014 - 22:49

    I am still searching for my brother who was adopted. the papers were finalized in ont. all the best to u

  • MB
    April 16, 2014 - 22:45

    Her twitter page now says she found her family, plus numerous aunts and uncles, thanks to social media.

  • Angela
    April 16, 2014 - 22:10

    She found her family! :-)

  • Angela
    April 16, 2014 - 22:00

    Could also be Chaytor. Lots of Chaytor's around here.

  • Sylvia Mackey
    April 16, 2014 - 20:06

    Did you try sending a letter to nl government they should have a record of the adoption . I have 3 adopted children and that's how we found there birth mother. Nl government should have a record of every adoption unless it wasn't down throught the government. hope this can help. good luck hope you had good adoption parents.

    • Lori Martin
      April 17, 2014 - 17:06

      i agree! that is all i had to do as well..i had even less information than she does, i had birthdate and city (no birth name) LOL..sent application to NL Vital Statistics at the time and they said could take 5 yrs for the search due to 2 workers for the entire province and it took 5 yrs to the day! (Thank you Vanessa!!!!) that was in 1998 so hopefully more workers by now but hey it is government! best of luck to all searching!!

  • Barb Mcgrath
    April 16, 2014 - 19:16

    Hi Kimberely,I just saw your message on facebook,you can in on facebook.under Newfoundland Adoptees,you can join this site!There is always someone looking for their parents or siblings!They will help you,Let me know if you got into this site,sure hope it helps you!

  • BT
    April 16, 2014 - 19:13

    Kimberly, I too was adopted from NFLD to Ontario in 1974 and my biological parents had 13 children between them prior to me. The similarities are so familiar. Have you tried obtaining all possible information from the Adoption Disclosure Registry in Toronto? They were very helpful back when I needed info. The end result was not what I wanted but such is life.

  • anne
    April 16, 2014 - 17:24

    You should also try the confederation building the adoption records are easier to access these days.

  • CC
    April 16, 2014 - 13:35

    I'm originally from the area and, although she doesn't look familiar at all, I think the last name was likely Vater. I wish her all the best in her search!

  • Krista Campbell
    Krista Campbell
    April 16, 2014 - 13:10

    As someone who is also adopted, I wish you the best of luck finding your biological family! Having this article published in the Telegram will definitely be a big help, no doubt!

  • Denise Harris Keough
    April 16, 2014 - 12:36

    If you go to Family Tree DNA, you can order a Family Finder Kit for $99. It's a simple cheek swab that will connect you with family around the world. They also have a special sub-section for Adoptees

    • Joann Campbell
      April 30, 2014 - 19:24

      Hi wondering if you can get a hold of me regarding your Yetman genealogy. I sent you a mssge via facebook but it is probably in your other folder. Thanks

  • Della
    April 16, 2014 - 12:17

    Could be vater or vaters..... Wishing you well in your search for your birth parents.

  • Wanda-Lee
    April 16, 2014 - 11:57

    I truly hope she gets some info that she has been searching for...She deserves it!! I've shared on FB & hope others will do the same for this girl :)

  • Wanda-Lee
    April 16, 2014 - 11:55

    I truly hope she gets some info that she has been searching for...She deserves it!! I've shared on FB & hope others will do the same for this girl :)

  • karen
    April 16, 2014 - 11:09

    are you sure of the last name ...maybe the r is really an s...gates...that name pops up for carbonear

  • karen
    April 16, 2014 - 11:06

    are you sure of the last name ...maybe the r is really an s...gates...that name pops up for carbonear

  • Sandra Fowler
    April 16, 2014 - 10:40

    As someone already suggested, is it possible the surname spelling is incorrect. Could it be Gator instead of Gater ??

  • Old Man
    April 16, 2014 - 10:20

    Kimberly, don't worry too much about it, but I really understand you and wish you much luck in searching. You may NEVER get Information from relatives if you know any of them. I am over 70 years old and still searching for my FATHER'S NAME.

  • Ed
    April 16, 2014 - 10:19

    GATER is not a name listed in any Newfoundland records. There are CATER's but they are mostly located in central Newfoundland (Grand Falls and Notre Dame Bay areas) . I am not disputing the surname but if it is correct it might mean that the mother was not from the Bay Roberts area or had married someone not from that area.

  • corina
    April 16, 2014 - 09:16

    how do I get in touch with this young lady other then twitter I don't have twitter?

  • Angela Gosse
    April 16, 2014 - 08:52

    Are you sure about the spelling of the last name ? I know there is a last name Vader in newfoundland.

  • dana
    April 16, 2014 - 08:33

    Possible that your last name was Cater? That's a NL name and if someone wrote the C like a G it may have been entered as Gater. Just a thought. Good luck!

    • Wanda
      April 16, 2014 - 10:37

      Maybe the last name is gates? The s may look like a r?? Good luck with your search

    • Amanda
      April 16, 2014 - 12:25

      I agree with Dana, quite possible the last name was 'Cater', I've seen some people write their C's that looked more like G's. Worth Checking out, Good luck :)