Ladner’s Kevin Husband has been on quite an odyssey the past few months unraveling a remarkable tale of family history, a journey he never could have imagined would hit so close to home.
Husband, who owns Emma Lee Farms, a popular destination on Westham Island, is a member of a four-generation farming family.
He was adopted at nine days old.
“My adopted parents originally were in line for a child, a girl was available, but on the farm, they really wanted a son,” recalled Husband. “They told me right from the beginning that I was adopted. I was fine with it and very thankful to be adopted. My goal in life was to take the wonderful opportunities that they gave me and make the most of the life that I received.”
Some 25 years ago, Husband received an envelope with his adoption papers. His parents told him they were his to have and free to do with as he wished.
“I opened the envelope, which contained a letter and saw the name that I was given at birth – David Steven Mosseau. My biological mother’s name was Leona Mosseau. Unfortunately my biological father’s name was illegible.
“At the moment I had many thoughts and emotions going through my head, but I made the decision then that because of the family I belonged to and the life I was given, it just didn’t feel right at that time to pursue my biological family.”
Following the passing of his parents (dad in 2010, mom in 2018), Husband decided to pull out the adoption letter to try and find out about his birth parents and their medical history.
“It was really my daughter Katie who gave me a push. They wanted to know our family health history,” he said. “So I went online and found the Province of B.C. Adoption Records site, and completed the search application.”
Last September he received a copy of the adoption papers signed in 1956 with both birth parents’ names and consent.
“When we received the letter and the names, Katie did a search for Mosseau on Facebook and clicked on the first name (Suzanne) that came up,” he said. “To our surprise, this person followed our business and was one of our customers.”
Katie sent a message to Suzanne explaining the situation and within 10 minutes received a reply saying that Leona was her aunt.
“I remember feeling shocked, yet really excited to learn that I had another cousin and possibly more family members,” said Husband. “We then learned that Leona had passed away 19 years ago, but had four other sons that all live in the Lower Mainland, including one in Ladner.”
Husband said none of the brothers knew anything at all about their mother having a baby at a young age and giving that baby up for adoption.
Paul Clark, who moved to Ladner two years ago with his wife Gloria, is one of those brothers.
“When we first heard about it from Suzanne, we all got on a conference call and we just couldn’t believe it,” said Clark. “It was shock. We were really surprised that my mom and grandmother kept this a secret all these years, but we were all very excited about it.”
Husband and Suzanne then coordinated an initial place for everyone to meet.
“Two weeks later we looked at a coffee shop or a restaurant and then Suzanne suggested why not meet at the farm,” said Husband. “It was a Saturday morning, Sept. 28. I was nervous, I had been nervous the whole week. I didn’t know much about anyone, so you just don’t know what to expect.”
One of the first people to arrive was Keith Bogart, who has been a family friend for more than 25 years.
“Keith usually stops by to pick up some produce or maybe just for a visit. This time he put out his hand and says, ‘Hi, nephew Kevin,’” said Husband. “I’m in shock. We’ve known each other for so long and he is actually my uncle.”
One by one, other new family members arrived, hugs were shared, pictures brought out and stories and memories began pouring out.
“We spent three hours together. It was amazing,” said Husband.
Clark said it was like they had known each other their whole lives.
“Knowing that Kevin was so close, I mean we could have been standing next to each other in the grocery store, walking down the street, it’s crazy to think about,” said Clark. “Meeting at the farm was unbelievable – overwhelming and so much joy. I’m so glad that all our brothers and all the families live so close together. It’s a blessing, really.”
They didn’t realize until that first meeting just how close they actually were.
Leona and the family grew up in the Dunbar area of Vancouver, later moving to Ladner where they purchased a home. Leona had come to Emma Lea to pick strawberries a couple of times, not knowing her biological son’s family runs the farm.
Leona passed away in Delta Hospital on Dec. 6, 2000, the exact same time Husband’s adopted dad Robert was a patient there. Husband visited every day, not knowing his birth mother was also there.
“So close to Leona, but never knowing,” he said.
Leona’s mother Merna Baxter (Husband’s birth grandmother) was the sister of Dorothy Baxter of Ladner. Dorothy married Ab Botkin. The Husbands and Botkins have been friends for years.
“We have gone to school together, shared many stories with each other around campfires, and now we find out that we are cousins,” said Husband.
Merna and Dorothy’s brother Ross Baxter were good friends with Husband’s Uncle Ernie Tamboline. The two young men were both dispatched to Europe to fight in the war. Ross was killed in action and Ernie brought his belongings back to the family in Ladner.
“As it turns out, my new brothers and wives, myself and my wife Joanne and our kids and grandkids all attend Remembrance Day services at the Ladner Cenotaph,” said Husband. “It is amazing how close our families have been, yet not knowing we were family.”
Many members of the extended family, some 65 of them, gathered again at Fisherman’s Hall in Ladner in mid-December. More photos were taken, and laughs and memories were shared over good food and drink.
“I am just so happy to have found some of my biological family,” said Husband. “It has fulfilled something in me that I felt was missing my whole life. I had always wondered about my biological family and now I know.
“I feel lucky to have the opportunity to get to know them and be a part of each others’ lives.”