Out in the Open

The chance phone call that led to a remarkable reunion

Mim Martin wished she could reclaim a part of her past. More than 30 years later, her dream came true.
Mim and John met for the first time since he was a baby in July 2000. Here they are at that first meeting.

When Mim Martin walked into the CBC Saskatoon newsroom after lunch on June 2nd, 2000, the phone was ringing. She was the only producer around, so she answered it.

"CBC News," she said.

"Hello, this is John MacDougall," said the voice on the other end of the phone. "I'm calling from Toronto. We have feature news stories that are available for download. Have you been getting our notifications?"

It was a busy day and Mim was anxious to get back to work. She knew CBC would never buy content from this man's private company, so she tried to get him off the phone.

John would not be deterred, and tried convincing Mim to buy his product. But Mim wasn't easily persuaded.

"We're not even a real TV station, we're a bureau," she told John.

"This isn't Regina?" said John, "I thought I was calling Regina." 
Mim holds her baby in January 1964 during the two weeks she cared for him before giving him up for adoption.

"No," said Mim, "this is Saskatoon."

'Great,' thought John. 'I can play the Saskatchewan card.'

"Really?" he said. "I was born in Saskatoon."

John heard silence on the other end of the phone.

Mim's mind was racing. 36 years earlier, at the age of 18, she had given birth to a baby boy in Saskatoon. Mim had wanted to keep him, but she wasn't married and her parents made her give him up for adoption. She'd named the baby David, but knew he was renamed John MacDougall. 

'Could it be him?' thought Mim. 

When she spoke again, Mim's entire tone had changed. She started asking John questions about how he ended up in Toronto. He told her he moved to the small town of Melville, Saskatchewan with his family when he was 10, went to university in Regina, and just moved from Chicago to Toronto.

'It is him,' thought Mim. 'I don't want to hurt him. He doesn't know who he's talking to.'

"Well, John MacDougall," she said. "I believe I know you." 

"Really? What did you say your name was again?"

"My name's Mim, it's short for Miriam."

"I think I'd remember a name like that. Sorry, Mim, it doesn't ring a bell." 

"Well, I believe I know your family. I know your Mom, Sue." 

"Yes, that's my Mom's name. This is crazy! My first call to Saskatchewan and you know my family! Small world!"

"Well, it gets crazier. Could I ask you a question? Are you adopted?"

"Yes I am."

"Have you ever met your birth mother?"

"No, I haven't."

"Well, you just have." 

There was silence on both ends of the line. 

"I don't even remember which one of us spoke next," John told Piya. "I remember saying, Are you OK? And I remember Mim saying, Are you OK? I don't remember who said it first." 
Mim and John in 2014

John called Mim back the next day and they spoke for three hours. A month later, they met in person and began a close relationship. They now talk about once a month and text each other updates and funny jokes.

Mim walked John down the aisle at his wedding, along with John's adoptive mother, Sue. Mim and her husband Art are Nana and Papa to John's daughters.

"Meeting Mim and having Mim in my life completes me, and I didn't realize I needed to be completed," said John.

"We just love each other," Mim told Piya. "I realized when I first met John that I'd always loved him."

now