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Family mystery unravelled

Marilyn Lambourne (left) with newly discovered siblings Milton Adams and Shauna Bellchambers.

Two years after learning she has a fraternal twin, Marilyn Lambourne has fit together the remaining puzzle pieces of her past.

Not only has the 68-year-old gone from being an only child to having a brother, she now has two more siblings.

Lambourne’s most recent discoveries – a sister and another brother – are the result of a search for her biological mother.

She was spurred to start the hunt after speaking to her twin, Bill Snyder, for the first time three years ago.

Peace Arch News reported in June 2008 how Lambourne and Snyder (born Janet Lynn and John Lyle) were adopted as babies from an orphanage in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. to separate families.

While Snyder was told by his adoptive father at 14 years old that he had a twin who had been released from hospital and adopted before him, Lambourne never knew of a sibling.

Snyder tracked down his sister in South Surrey through an Ontario adoption agency, and called her in August 2007.

“She thought it was kind of a prank call,” Snyder recalled to PAN. “When we were able to talk to each other, we had 65 years of information to exchange… As we talked more and more, we felt more relaxed.

“It’s like we’d never been apart.”

While Snyder was content with the close bond the two have formed since and showed little interest in finding more family, Lambourne was more curious.

She applied for her birth information when the Ontario government opened its adoption registration in June 2009. Her birth mother’s name was on the certificate she received five months later.

Lambourne’s friend put her in touch with a genealogy-website subscriber, who looked up the name, Audrey Latimer, and found a number of family trees. One listed a Milton Adams in Mattawa, Ont. as her son.

After Googling Adams’ address, Lambourne wrote him a letter, enclosing a picture of her and Snyder, as well as a copy of her birth registration.

On Dec. 8, 2009, he phoned.

“(He) was really excited,” Lambourne said. “He said I look exactly like one of his aunts.”

Adams informed her that he has a sister, Shauna Bellchambers, who also lives in Ontario.

Last May, Lambourne flew out to meet them.

“It was not the least bit awkward,” she said, noting she stayed with both Adams and Bellchambers, who always wanted a sister.

Sadly, Lambourne learned the two had an older brother, Wallace, who died in a house fire a couple years ago.

None of them knew their mother – who also died in recent years – had other children.

“Mother went to the grave at 92, just months before Bill and I met in 2007, with the secret.”

Lambourne now knows – through information gathered from her parents’ living siblings – that Latimer gave up the twins in 1942 when she was 29 because their father, Arnold Porter, was married at the time.

She waited for him to divorce, and the two were engaged when Porter died in an industrial accident in 1944.

Latimer remarried the next year, and had three more kids.

While Adams and Bellchambers were just as shocked to learn their mother’s secrets, Lambourne said the revelations explained a lot of her actions.

“She hated Christmas,” Lambourne said, noting she and Snyder were born Dec. 23. “She would look off into space for periods of time.

“That’s a hard secret to keep.”

Latimer encouraged Bellchambers to follow in her footsteps and become a nurse, and always wanted redheaded grandkids. While she never saw either wish materialize, little did she know Lambourne had chosen nursing as her profession, and Snyder fathered a redheaded son, and now has two grandchildren with red hair.

And there are other commonalities, even if Lambourne can’t see a physical resemblance in pictures of her late mother. She has been told Latimer, like herself, enjoyed knitting, quilting and volunteering.

“I’m the one most like her out of all of us.”

Lambourne visited her mother’s grave, and has been sent a picture of her father’s in a Sault Ste. Marie cemetery.

She has heard that her father was the love of Latimer’s life, and she was devastated when he was killed.

“It was nice to know our mom and dad were in love,” Lambourne said, noting she doesn’t feel resentment about being put up for adoption.

“I figured she did it for us; it wasn’t an easy decision. I’m not mad.”

If anything, uncovering her past has been a positive experience. From it, Lambourne has gained siblings, nieces and nephews.

“I have lots of Christmas cards to send this year. My family went from four to about 12,” she said. “I don’t have any grandchildren – at least my family is growing in a different direction.”

Lambourne admits her history has been “kind of fun” to piece together, if not surreal.

“It’s sort of been overwhelming. I have to pinch myself now and again.”

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