From: kippaherring on

'Baby Joey' takes his first steps to find mother
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
July 19, 2008

It was 30 years ago yesterday that Therese Skomar was walking through
a back entrance at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon and sped past a
small, closed shoebox tucked inside the doorway.

On the way to visit her father in the hospital, Ms. Skomar had ducked
in through an entrance mostly used by doctors.

Something about that box made her stop and double back. She bent to
lift the lid, and what Ms. Skomar saw inside made her scream. Homeless
and nameless, the box's occupant was a wriggling, pink-cheeked male
infant. The emergency room doctor on duty, Joe Chin, guessed the boy
was five days old. The baby was one of the first recorded cases of
child abandonment in Saskatoon; nurses dubbed him “Baby Joey” or
“little Joe” after the doctor, and posed for pictures happily
swaddling him.

Now, buoyed by the passing of his 30th birthday, Baby Joey, who is now
a grown doctor named John Dosman, is making headlines again. As first
reported by CTV in Saskatoon, he has launched a national effort to
find his birth mother.

Mr. Dosman is also eager to find any information he can about those
first five mysterious days.

The story of Baby Joey captured headlines that summer 30 years ago as
the city waited to see whether his mother would reclaim him. When she
didn't, the baby became a Crown ward, and hundreds of families stepped
forward with offers to adopt him. By Thanksgiving, he had been
officially adopted. He was also renamed by his new family, and whisked
out of the limelight.

“Me coming forward isn't me trying to fill some huge void that has
been just eating me up or anything like that,” Mr. Dosman said in a
telephone interview from a northern Saskatchewan campsite yesterday.
“I'm just curious. It's part of my story that I don't know, and I
think it'd be kind of neat to know about past ancestry. And
practically, knowing about medical history would be good. I have no
grand expectations of anything. I hold no grudges. The first thing I
would like to say is thanks.”

That thank you would be for tossing Mr. Dosman – who now has two
university degrees and is completing his medical residency in Prince
Albert – into the circumstances that led him to be placed with the
Saskatoon family that raised him.

A respirologist and a physiotherapist, Jim and Sue Dosman already had
a large family when they decided to try for just one more.

“We had four little girls and we thought it'd be nice for them to have
a brother,” Mrs. Dosman said. “We didn't seem to have the chemistry to
produce one. We put our names in for adoption.”

A few months into their wait for a male infant, Mr. Dosman returned to
the family's cottage with a newspaper article about abandoned Baby
Joey. He wondered, Mrs. Dosman said, whether they could adopt the
baby. But at their next meeting with a government social worker, their
hopes dimmed.

“She said he had to be a ward of the courts for three months to give
his birth parents a chance to change their mind,” Mrs. Dosman said.
“We kind of forgot about it. Then one day in October we got a
telephone call saying you can have this little baby Joey.”

Baby Joey officially became baby John on a sunny morning, the first
Wednesday after Thanksgiving in 1978, new brother to four sisters who
stretched in age from seven to 15.

“Poor John, he really had five or six mothers,” Mrs. Dosman said.

Baby John came with a package assembled by social workers – a
collection of newspaper clippings and official files – that explained
his saga in diary-like detail. While the Dosmans planned to be
explicit with their young son about his adoptive status, they decided
immediately not to tell him about his unofficial fame until he could
absorb it as an adult.

“We rented an extra big safety deposit box so we wouldn't have to fold
the newspaper clippings,” Mrs. Dosman said. “My husband says that he
didn't want him to be famous or have any attention drawn to him. Also,
I think my husband was a little afraid that maybe his birth mother
would change her mind and want to come and find him.”

And so, at his 18th birthday dinner at a restaurant in rural
Saskatchewan, he was given an intriguing gift: a bag filled with
newspaper articles from 1978 and social services documents that set
out the sequence of events from the moment he was found.

Mr. Dosman said he was surprised, and a little upset.

“I always knew I was adopted. I don't even remember being told. I
never thought it was a big deal,” he said. “I didn't know the full
sensation of the abandonment until I was 18.”

Still, Mr. Dosman said he's never felt angry. “My life has been
unreal. Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was to be
abandoned,” he said. “I'm just curious where I came from, what
ancestry I am; knowing about medical history is important. I'm just
curious to see maybe some people that look like me.”

If you have any information about John or think you may be his mother,
you can call 1-800-513-3463 (FIND) or e-mail cfbabyjoey(a)