Kathy Ahmad wanted to grow up with her brother. But life didn’t work out that way for the Pictou-born girl.
Ahmad was about 10 years old in 1962 when a family living in Toledo, Ohio adopted her. While she was thankful for her new home, she bid farewell to more than her place of birth that day. She lost her baby brother John, and her heart still hurts when she thinks about how he wanted to go with her, but couldn’t. She has a photo of him taken the day she left and it’s stayed with her ever since.
Kathy and John had always been close and even after they were placed into foster care in Pictou County, the two found a way to connect. For several years they were in the same foster care homes, but for a time prior to her adoption, they were separated into different homes. Still, they managed to see each other. Both their foster families attended the same church on Sundays and afterward the siblings would find their way to each other and play.
Now, after more than half a century apart, Ahmad is trying to once again find her brother. It’s a search that’s helped her reconnect with another younger brother and led her to discover other relatives she didn’t even know she had. But still she longs for that one final reunion that has been on her mind since the day she left.
Ahmad remembers a time after she was settled into her new home in Ohio and her adoptive parents asked if she wanted to have a sister. She gave a firm no.
“I wanted my brother John,” she says.
And to their credit, her adoptive parents tried to make her wish come true. But they were told John had been placed in another home and was happy.
“We weren’t able to get him,” Ahmad said.
It was the last time she had heard anything about where he was. For her part, Ahmad had a good life in Ohio with parents who made sure she received a good education. She became a nurse and had a family of her own, adopting two children herself, and now enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.
Ahmad tried to work through a lawyer to track down John, and when that didn’t work she tried a private detective. But Nova Scotia has strict rules surrounding closed adoptions and she wasn’t getting far.
Then came a game changer.
About two years ago, Ahmad submitted her DNA to Ancestry.ca, and indicated she would like to be put in contact with biological relatives. As a result, she was contacted by cousins on both sides of her family, some of whom remembered her as a child. She’s been able to find pictures of her grandfather and was even put in touch with her brother Peter. She learned she had other half-siblings as well. Recently, they had a family reunion and Ahmad says she has had a fantastic time connecting with these relatives and learning more about her family roots.
“This DNA adventure this past year has been amazing and answered many questions plaguing me for over 50 years,” she said. “I have found nothing but love from both the Landry side and the O’Brien side of the family. All our aunts and uncles were children when these events occurred and they, too have been searching for us for 60 years.”
But for her, the search is not over.
“I did it to find John and he’s the only one I haven’t found,” she says.
She believes from her contact with other relatives that John was placed with a family in Pictou County. She decided to contact The News to see if a story might help reunite them.
Anyone with information can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are not complete without him and I won't give up,” she says.
What Kathy knows
Her mother’s maiden name was Helen Kathleen O’Brien from Pictou. She died about five years ago. Her father was Murdock Peter Landry, and he passed away about 25 years ago. She believes John was born June 15, 1953.
What she wants John to know
“I‘ve been looking for you for 55 years. I’ve been looking for you and wanted to be in touch with you. I wanted to grow up with you.”