VANCOUVER – Amber Scotton and Susan Atkinson met on an online message board six years ago. Just recently they found out they are actually half-sisters and share the same mom.
“I met [Atkinson] in 2007, 2008 and we became best friends,” said Scotton, who lived in Langley, B.C., but now lives in Ontario. “We met for lunch, we’d go out every once in a while and then we started having dinner parties together.”
“We’d meet up once a month, every couple of weeks, have dinner.”
They talked about their lives and Atkinson told Scotton she was adopted as a very young child.
“It would always be, you know, who do I look like. Do I look like anybody?” said Atkinson. “I’ve never actually searched for [my birth parents], I’ve been on a passive list.”
But she was able to get the background story on her mother when the privacy rules changed about 20 years ago. Atkinson knew nothing about her birth mom, except that she was young and unmarried.
But she and Scotton hit it off right away.
Last August, Atkinson was having dinner at Scotton’s home and while they were chatting, Atkinson mentioned her sister’s name was Beverly. “I said ‘oh, my mother’s name was also Beverley’,” said Scotton. They didn’t think much of it at the time, but Atkinson then said her birth mother’s name was Beverly.
“I’m like ‘oh, my mom’s name was Beverley Dawn Dunphy,” said Scotton and that is when the penny dropped.
Atkinson said she looked at Scotton and said “what did you say? Did I just hear what I think I heard?”
“My birth mother’s name was Beverley Dawn Dunphy, my name at birth was Carol Lee Dunphy, and [my mom] was from North Van,” added Atkinson. “[Scotton’s] reply was ‘oh my god, how did she spell her name?’.”
“Then I said ‘but wait, she was adopted’. ‘So was mine’ [said Scotton]. Then I said ‘oh, but wait, she gave a child up for adoption’. ‘So did mine!’ [said Scotton]. At this point we’re looking at each other going ‘what just happened?'”
The next day, Atkinson sent Scotton her adoption record and background and Scotton said that is when she knew they had the same birth mom.
“We were pretty stunned,”said Scotton. “I mean, I always knew that my mother had given a child up for adoption, I think she told me when I was 15 or 16, um, so you know I had thought about it on and off throughout the years, but I never really thought that I’d ever be able to find this person. I certainly didn’t think it was going to be Susan, so we were just, we were very surprised.”
The day the two half-sisters discovered their connection, it would have been their mother’s 70th birthday. She passed away before Atkinson had a chance to meet her.
The two women both took a DNA test to confirm the results, but Scotton said it has not changed their relationship, despite the 16 year age difference between them.
“She used to come to all my family dinners and stuff anyways, so it is pretty much exactly the same,” she said.
Atkinson said she might try to find her birth father, but she has not had much luck so far. She knows he was a well-known actor in his day, but she does not know if he has passed away or is still alive.
However, for now, the two women are each other’s only blood relatives and think of each other as friends / sisters.
“She was my friend first, she’s always going to be my friend first,” said Atkinson. “They say you can’t really choose your family, but I guess in a way we did.”
– With files from Minna Rhee and Leigh Kjekstad
© 2015 Shaw Media