On April 14th, 1986, an infant cold and shivering, with her umbilical cord still attached, was found abandoned at the bottom of a ditch.
“I don’t know, I don’t see how anyone can do that,” one of the three 15-year-old boys who found her, with her lip quivering and soaking wet in an Adidas duffel bag near Colwood’s Triangle Mountain, said in 1986.
She became known on the island as Baby Jessica. Doted on by nurses, police pleaded for her parents to step forward to solve the mystery.
“I think about it every day,” said Ray Whightman, one of the boys who stumbled across the newborn back in 1986.
“To actually have been there and held her at that time, I constantly think about that. If we hadn’t shown up. What would have happened then?”
Baby Jessica, now Adriana Bonner, was adopted into a loving family.
But finding out she was abandoned in a ditch after birth, has haunted Bonner all her life.
“Knowing that your life meant nothing to someone who carried you for nine months really takes a toll,” said Bonner.
Then a break through. This year, through an Ancestry DNA test, Bonner stumbled upon her birth dad.
“It just breaks my heart, I don’t know how anyone can do that to a child,” said Rick Bond, who up until May had no idea he conceived a child 35 years ago with his ex-girlfriend.
Bond and his wife Rhonda, who have been married for the last 30 years with two kids of his own, have opened up their home, family, and hearts to Bonner, her husband, and her three children – now their grandchildren.
Bonner was hoping for more answers from her birth mother. But they didn’t come.
“Even to this day, she doesn’t hold any accountability for what she’s done. It’s always about poor her, and I understand she was young, scared, she was alone. I guess she grew up in an abusive home situation. But that still doesn’t give her the right to not provide me the necessities of life,” said Bonner.
“She apologized at the very beginning when we first started talking in May and then it kind of changed to saying that she doesn’t remember what she did and she’s only hearing what me and my birth father have told her.”
Since then, Bonner’s birth mother has given her the cold shoulder, not allowing Bonner to meet the children she’s had since.
In September, West Shore RCMP recommended Bonner’s birth mom be charged with abandonment under the 1986 Criminal Code.
In B.C., there must be a strong likelihood of conviction and a prosecution must be deemed to be in the public interest for a charge to be approved.
“The assessing Crown could not conclude that the charge assessment standard had been met and accordingly charges have not been approved,” said the BC Prosecution Services in a statement to CHEK News.
As a result of the decision not to lay charges, Bonner says the justice system has failed her.
“I was angry and disappointed, that my life pretty much wasn’t worthy of having a charge go through,” said Bonner.
“By refusing to prosecute as it’s in the public interest, sends a very poor message to everyone. The actions of my birth mother to put me in a water-filled ditch, in an isolated area, is child abuse, child abandonment, and attempted murder. They’re all serious issues where my birth mother gets to escape all responsibility.”
And the decision has left her birth father dumbfounded.
“Adriana’s birth mother even admitted to it. She was interviewed by the police and said she did what she did,” said Bond.
“I don’t understand why she gets to walk away from this with nothing.”
The lack of answers is also troubling to one of the teens who found her as an infant.
“This has affected so many people. People have lost years of time with her, like her birth dad. It’s affected all of us involved with it, in some way,” said Whightman.
But Bonner isn’t giving up. She’s writing the provincial and federal governments, pushing to change the decision. Meanwhile, she’s determined to work towards a social work degree, to help others avoid what happened to her.
In the meantime, Bonner and Bond are making up for stolen time.
“My kids love their new Pops and Nan and new aunties and uncles. It’s been amazing,” said Bonner.
“It’s like she’s been here since day one,” said Bond.