“When You Are Fostered, You Don’t Know Who You Are:” Scottish Birth Siblings Reunited

Recently we announced our featured book title for the first quarter of 2015: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. A major theme in this book  is what happens to a child’s identity when he or she is separated from parents and kin.

With this story fresh on my mind, Lisa sent me a story from The Press and Journal (Aberdeen, UK) about Irene Robertson from Scotland. Irene grew up never knowing much about her birth family. Her mother had released her into foster care but never allowed her to be adopted, so she stayed with a foster mother until she was an adult.

Over the years she wondered whether she had birth relatives out there somewhere. It was painful. “When I saw programmes on the TV like Who Do You Think You Are? I couldn’t watch them,” she told The Press and Journal. “I couldn’t watch people meeting their relatives, I would just start crying. I so wanted it to be me.”

When she was nearly 70, a charity called Birthlink helped Irene locate her niece and, through her, her brother. Their reunion over the phone, and then in person, felt to Irene like coming home. “The minute I spoke to him he said, ‘You sound just like family’ and that’s all I wanted to hear really,” she told the paper. “That’s great. He made it very easy. I mean somebody called me ‘Sis’. What a feeling that is, it was just amazing.” Read  the full story about these birth siblings reunited and see a picture of them in the The Press and Journal.

genealogy book club genealogy gemsJoin our “virtual book club” in reading Orphan Train, a novel about two people fostered out in the U.S.–one an orphan train rider and another a teen in today’s foster system. In March we welcome author Christina Baker Kline to the Genealogy Gems podcast to talk about the experiences of her characters in Orphan Train–feelings that might very well resonate with Irene in Scotland.

(Note: when you use our links to shop for the book you are helping to support the free Genealogy Gems Book Club and Podcast. Thank you!)




Young Boy Reunites Siblings through Facebook

A long-lost brother and sister have cause to thank a seven-year old boy for helping to reunite them: through Facebook!

Recently the Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier reported a story about a 66-year old Davenport man who had tried for years to find his sister. As an infant, Clifford Boyson was separated from his older sister Betty when they were placed in different foster homes in Chicago.

Thf_logoen Boyson’s landlord’s 7-year-old son found out about the lost sister. Young Eddie Hanzelin searched his mom’s Facebook account for Betty. When her name popped up, he saw the family resemblance.

Clifford got in touch with Betty, now 70. She traveled from her home in Missouri to Davenport with her daughter and granddaughter for a tearful reunion with her brother. They look forward to getting to know each other after more than six decades apart.

Kudos to young Eddie for connecting these long-lost loved ones. And thanks to Genealogy Gems follower Steve Schell from Cedar Falls, Iowa for alerting us about this inspiring story! I love hearing how even a child can use social media to make meaningful family connections.

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