Joni Mitchell rose from rags to riches after reaching the pinnacle of celebrity. Unfortunately for her, fame came a little too late.
Mitchell was once so financially strapped that she had to give her kid up for adoption because she couldn’t care for her.
Mitchell didn’t give up looking, and neither did her daughter Kilauren Gibb, and after 32 years apart, they eventually found each other.
Joni Mitchell Abandoned Her Daughter
Mitchell gave birth to her daughter in 1965, according to Cheatsheet, which is a very different era. Unmarried mothers were rather unusual back then.
When she asked her child’s father to marry her, he declined. She hadn’t yet made a name for herself as a musician. She lacked the financial wherewithal to raise and support her daughter.
So, with a sad heart, she decided to place her baby for adoption, a decision she would soon come to regret. She once told Hot Press, “I had a house and a car and I had the means and I’d become a public person soon after I’d given up my kid for adoption.” She’d been looking for her child for years, but the trail eventually came close.
It made for plenty of headlines when a childhood acquaintance sold her secret childbirth to the newspaper, and that was the end of it.
The Search for Kilauren Gibb’s Mother
Gibb confessed to the Toronto Sun (through Joni Mitchell’s website) that she would frequently question her adoptive mother about why she didn’t have photos from around the time she was born.
To keep the adoption a secret, the Gibbs — two Toronto professors David and Ida Gibb — had to feed her with a few reasons.
Gibb discovered she was adopted when she was 27 years old, and her search for her biological parents began. Her adoptive parents thankfully left her a trail to follow: Children’s Aid Society. As a result, she made contact.
However, it would take the institution five years to provide Gibb with the file she wanted, which also didn’t include her birth mother’s name, only a description.
Her mother was born in Saskatchewan, the lone child of Norwegian-Scottish parents, she discovered. She was diagnosed with polio as a child and met Kilauren’s father while they were both attending art school in Calgary.
She was identified as a successful Canadian folk singer in the CAS information. Gibb, on the other hand, was not a lover of the genre for which her mother was famous and couldn’t draw the link on her own.
On February 1, 1996, she stumbled upon an item in the newspaper about Mitchell’s search for her daughter. The timeframe was spot on. Gibb also saw the similarities: blue eyes, blonde hair, long legs, and high cheekbones.
She placed the phone call to Mitchell’s agency in the hopes of seeing her mother before her birthday on February 19. It turned out that she wasn’t the only “daughter” calling. All of the allegations had to be screened by the agency.
Gibbs returned home one day to see a message from her mother on the answering machine. It said: “Hello, my name is Joni. Please give me a call. I’ve arrived. I’m really overwhelmed.”
On March 13, 1997, the mother-daughter team reunited for the first time in 32 years.