The search for my twin – Bernadette McDonald

My name is Bernadette Marie McDonald, born on April 9th, 1960 in Montreal, Quebec. I was born to a twin sister, who was adopted or surrendered at birth. Unfortunately, I still to this day, only have family stories and half-truths from our birth mother Joan Carole Moodie and biological grandmother (mom’s mom) Lillian Gertrude Ferguson. Both have passed prior to 2006.

Listen to
bernadette’s  interview

Bernadette Moodie-Gallowey-McDonald-Leduc finds someone unexpected while searching for her identity and a twin sister given up for adoption at birth.

How I would describe myself would be like a mosaic masterpiece, filled with many fractured broken pieces of promises, shattered dreams, destroyed childhood, dysfunctional parents, love and compassion, empathy for others, and a will to seek out the truth and justice for all.

At the ripe age of 15, I went to court and was emancipated from my family, based on dysfunctional torture. I had lived the majority of my childhood life within the Children’s Aid Society in Ontario. From ages 5 through to 15, I had roughly been under my mom’s roof, 3.3yrs, and not on a constant basis during my 15 years of life. Being tossed from home to home, school to school, never having stability or guidance on the path for growth. From what I’ve been told via mom was; an arrangement was made between her and her mom to keep me while my grandmother would financially support all my needs, to which she kept that promise. My twin sister was born 20 minutes before me and arrangements were made. What arrangements are still a mystery and when confronting the issue, the only answer was, an arrangement was made.

Mom was born and raised in Nova Scotia, she had 2 sisters and 2 brothers, one brother has discovered a couple of years ago via paperwork while going through some old boxes of my grandmothers. Mom herself was raised with many family secrets and as she aged, she too had questions as to her own biological father. I am happy to say, only recently by DNA testing and hearing specific names through family talk, I was able to confirm his identity. Her father has also passed and that family dynamic is still in denial of my mom’s existence. Mom was a young 16 yrs old when she got pregnant with my sister and me while living in Nova Scotia. According to an aunt, mom had announced she was running away. When her sister got wind of this news she set out to join her. Their travels landed them a ride to Montreal, Quebec via a couple of navy guys mom knew. Not having a set plan, they both set out to find work and landed a job in a restaurant, where one waitressed and the other did dishes. This allowed them a spot behind the bar in the evenings to sleep, in lieu of payment for service. It was at this time my aunt had found out my mom was pregnant, they carried on working until a Jewish lady had noticed my mom and

offered to remove her from the restaurant to get her help. I learned my mom was on social assistance and placed in an unwed home. My aunt did not see her again until the day after my sister and I were born. To my aunt’s knowledge at that time, mom gave birth to one child “me.” One thing she did remember was her brother was seen in the hallway holding a child and he never came back to the room and his presence or who the child was, was never open for discussion. Mom said to me once that my sister and I were baptised at the same time. No mention of a church, hospital organization. Just a small statue was given to us of Mother Mary, to which my grandmother had broken the bottom of mine off, so I’d never know where it was from. After my aunts visit with mom, she didn’t see her again for almost a year and a half later back in Nova Scotia. When mom returned to Nova Scotia, she met a man who would end up being my stepfather a year later. He was a navy man, stationed in Halifax. They married in Ontario in 63 and eventually granted me 4 brothers, two have passed in their 20s due to vehicle accidents. All brothers lived with parents until old enough to leave, marry, or pass.

During my life, I had always felt something was amiss with me in my family. I didn’t look like anyone, always misunderstood, always told I was my grandmother’s punishment to my mom, for having children out of wedlock. It wasn’t until I was in court at 15 and heard the father I thought was my father was in fact a stepfather and I was born a twin. This caused anger within me and set me on a mission at that time of not needing anyone.

On my 16th birthday, my grandmother had handed me a piece of paper and said this is the information for finding your twin. I was so angry with the family at that time, I destroyed the paper and then was told she would never give it to me again. To this day, I could kick myself, but it is what it is and I don’t have any info yet on my twin.

I have had many blessings in life as an adult, like going on a 10-year goose chase, following the name of the person I was told by my mom, who my biological father was. Yes, I said blessings, cause it allowed me to find a passion for the truth and solve secrets of who, where I am from, and where my sister is. The goose chase led me to see British Columbia and this beautiful country I live in. With tracking this person down and standing face to face with him after a couple of phone conversations, we both looked at each other and knew right away, I’d been told another lie. He was nice enough to make arrangements with his family doctor for a swabbed DNA test, just in case I carried more of my mother’s attributes than his. It was not a surprise when it came back, like a Jerry Springer episode…..“he is not your father”! At that point, I had given up on ever knowing who our father was, until….

I was given an Ancestry DNA test by my son and his wife 3 years ago. I was so elated that I could potentially find my sister or any of her children. My eyes, heart, and soul filled with the concept of something amazing was about to happen. Well, little did I know or even phantom, I would potentially have other siblings and potentially find my bio father, since I was only focused on my twin.

Results came in and I’m at one of my best friends’ places and I see a first cousin. Someone other than my known niece. Well, well, well what do I do now, I knew nothing about DNA and I messaged her, while my heart pounds and my mind goes into overdrive. Lord behold within seconds she messages me back, asking how she could help me because she does her family genealogy. I could not get my fingers moving fast enough to ask her her age as I was looking for my twin sister and/or was she adopted. To my surprise, she said no to all I asked and then proceeded to ask if I was by chance looking for a biological father. Well stopped me in my tracks, how do I answer that, do I really want to know who he is and how is she going to help me with that? It seemed like my response took forever, but I knew in my heart of hearts the answer would be yes. “She’s my cousin”, I yelled to my bestie and she knows who my father may be. The next question to my newfound cousin was, “how do you know who my potential father could be?” She said, “you look exactly like my uncle but in female form.” With that, she asked if she could get back to me after she asked me what I knew about my father, and of course, I said yes. Minutes later my phone rings and it’s a female crying and saying, “hey Bernadette, I’m your sister.” I put my phone to my side and shock kicked in, oh my, have I found my twin? The answer would be “no”, what I found was another sister and learned I had 2 more and another brother. Before I knew it I was meeting my one sister who flew into Ontario from BC and driving to meet my dad for the very first time. The drive to Quebec took about 7hrs which allowed my sister and me to get to know each other. His door opened and I knew immediately. My cousin was right, we look very much alike. I can say at that exact moment I felt a sense of belonging.

We sat at a table discussing who I was and if he knew of me, my twin or mother. Unfortunately, he did not remember much of that time in life as alcohol, women and the navy was all he focused on. Names, places, and situations were a blur of sporadic moments. As I sat there and wondered how and where we go from here, I had a new sister sitting beside me questioning every comment or question I asked. With him being a now very religious man the concept of maybe just maybe he could be of assistance via the Archdiocese of Quebec and help find out how baptisms were done there in 1960, he came with a piece of paper with the name of his church he attended and it was suggested to call and ask myself. Long story short, no record of such an act via the Catholic church. A couple of months later a DNA test would confirm him being my biological father and hushed up some of the new families’ questions.

Being 2020 I sit here with my twin still not found and birth origin not confirmed. The search will always continue until I take my last breath. When this search is over I will be 1 of 10 siblings, 8 half-siblings, and 1 my twin pure, altogether 5 brothers and 5 sisters including my twin and myself. Blessed with my two children, 1 boy, 1 girl, and 6 grandbabies and their spouses.

I am proud to say that within my (continuing search for a twin sister) it has brought many new members to my lineage. Four other siblings and a gazillion cousins, even finding some within a group I help admin on Facebook called “Adoptés a la Crèche du Quebec” It’s been a welcoming group and tips to help find your missing links. I have been given a sense of community and understanding of the struggles I find myself have had at times. These groups allow a community of wonderful people to come together for a bigger cause of finding the family.

We are also in the process of a historical event of cousins in 2022. Come join us in finding family and maybe even learn some secrets of how genealogy works while making a few friends/family along the way. We are always looking for assistance in organizing this function prior to and within the reunion. Many hands make less work and many ways of assisting. Information for this event will be available through our website at AACDQ.org

We are looking forward to meeting you and hope you are able to attend.

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Visitor Comments

This is a story of inspiration, tenacity, hope and love. I hope you find your twin sister soon.

GusB

20/Oct/2020

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