Were Sean’s Parents in Jonestown?
An Analysis

by Fielding M. McGehee III

It is undeniably strange that the adoptive parents of Sean Michael McGavic would include newspaper clippings of the deaths in Jonestown in their infant’s baby book, unless there was a reason. It could be that the adoptive parents wanted him to have a frame of reference for what was going on in the world at the time of his birth, and certainly the Jonestown tragedy would qualify. It could be that his birth parents had some connection to Peoples Temple – that indeed they died in Jonestown – and the adoptive parents wanted to leave clues to that connection without coming out and saying it.

There are several problems with connecting McGavic to anyone who died in Jonestown, however:

  • If he were in fact born on or around October 8, 1978, as he believes – and that he was delivered to his adoptive parents on November 9, as is an established fact – that would mean that his parents, or at least his mother, emigrated to Jonestown in the six weeks before the mass deaths. The problem with that assertion is, there were very few arrivals in Jonestown during the last several months of its existence, with the last known entry date of anyone arriving in Jonestown – up until the week of Congressman Ryan’s arrival in Georgetown – being June 11, 1978.
  • Peoples Temple was a California institution. While Miami was the last place in the United States that many Temple members saw on their way across the Caribbean to Guyana, it is also true that only three people who died in Jonestown were from that state, a 56-year-old woman and two 17-year-old young men. All were African American; none were from the St. Petersburg area.
  • The decision of a woman from Peoples Temple giving up her child for adoption – especially if she were still a devoted follower of the Temple – would be difficult to square with a decision to go to the Promised Land; after all, wouldn’t she want her child to share in her new adventure?
  • In addition, if one accepts that she was still a Temple follower, her use of a Catholic Social Services would be hard to explain, given the Temple’s antipathy towards religion at that time.

McGavic also points out that there are notes in his baby book from an Argentine doctor whom he cannot now locate. This would seem to argue against his belief that his parents had a Temple connection: no one who died in Jonestown had an immediate connection to Argentina, and aside from its relations with the country of Guyana itself, the Temple did not have any communications with any South American nations.

Originally posted on October 1st, 2017.

Last modified on October 18th, 2018.
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