Good News Blog

Reunited

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008

Lost Contact in 1972 – Reunited by Chance in Afghanistan

It took going to the frontlines in Afghanistan for two cousins to meet again.

Richard Lewis, 49, and Sonia Briggs haven’t seen eachother for 35 years.

Both grew up in the Rhonda Valley area (UK) but when Sonia moved to another place and then Richard did, they lost contact.

While on tour with the Royal Naval Reserve Richard then bumped into Sonia by chance.

“Sonia and I go way back; she is one of five kids, I am one of seven and I was born in Gelli, where my grandmother lived.

Since being reunited with her in Kandahar, I have had contact via email and social websites with a whole side of my family I didn’t know existed.”

Sonia, a mother of four, made headlines in 2008 when she took an unpaid 6 month leave from her job in order to serve. She’s one of the oldest people to be active in the service in Afghanistan.

Monday, Nov. 24, 2008

Adoptee Reunited with Mother Via Webcam Reality Show

Huston’s life story doesn’t begin in Buffalo, Minnesota.

He and his wife Kerry lived there and grew up there. But Huston is from Korea.

His biological father was an American soldier.

His father was to die later on in the Vietnam War.

His mother, too poor to raise him by herself, decided to give him up for adoption.

In 1971 he was adopted by a family living in Minnesota. Two Korean adoptees not really a surprise: Minnesota is the one place in the world with the most Korean adoptees. There are more than 13,000 Korean adoptees.

In the USA Minnesota is considered as one of the most progress states for adoptions.

Helped by an understanding teacher, Huston soon took his place in society.

But once he had Mary and he held his own daughter for the first time he realized what his mother must have gone through to give up her only child.

He started to look for his mother.

For 10 years this was without any success.

But then he appeared on a popular Korean television show.

It’s the format over reality TV show where Korean adoptees give their story in the hope that their parents are watching.

Huston appeared via a WebCam. Seven days later his birth mother was found.

In October he appeared again via Web cam on the television show and they were reunited, seeing each other again for the first time in 37 years.

This December they will be reunited in person.

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008

World War II Buddies, One Presumed Dead, Reunited After 70 Years

In 1941 in a fierce firefight in Libya, Harry’s tank was destroyed by a direct hit.

Once the site of the wreckage could be inspected the body was found…

Everybody thought Harry Finlayson was dead; a military funeral was held for the loss of the brave soldier and his wife was awarded a widow’s pension.

Sgt. Gerry Solomon was among the grieving. He was a good friend of Harry.

Gerry was stunned then to read an account written by Harry’s daughter in the military magazine stating that the demise of her father was greatly exaggerated. Her father was very much alive.

Harry and Gary have been put in touch with each other. They hardly recognize each other after all these years.

”’We were great friends in the desert and I had a photograph of him and I by the pyramids. We chatted for one and half hours. Oh yes, he was surprised – he said, “I thought you were dead!”

As it turned out Harry’s radio equipment had broken down in mystical for retreat and kept on fighting until his equipment gave up and he and his three comrades were captured.

”’The driver said we were running out of petrol so I said: “There’s our lines, go like mad’

‘But one of their tanks hit my tank and blew the engine right out of it and we were surrounded by Germans, so I was taken prisoner.”

He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war.

Monday, Jul. 14, 2008

Friends meet up after 38 years

Two Shropshire school friends who had not seen each other for 38 years renewed their long-lost friendship after meeting up at the 80s concert held in Shrewsbury Quarry.

Pauline Kemp, of Ketley Bank, Telford, and her best friend in school Dorothy Chipchase, of Castlefields, Shrewsbury, last saw one another in March 1970 but managed to get back in touch through the Friends Reunited website.

Pauline, who attended the Here and Now: Magic of the 80s concert on Saturday with her husband Martin as a birthday present, said herself and Dorothy, both 53, had rolled back the years by sharing their memories at the event.

She said: “We were both at Meole Brace Secondary School and then she left at 15 while I was a bit younger and spent my last two years at Church Stretton School doing a CSE.”

She added: “We lost touch and hadn’t seen each other for years and then one day I had an e-mail come through and it was her.

“She had found me on Friends Reunited and she phoned me and asked me if I remembered her and I said ‘of course I do we were best friends in school’.”

Dorothy said it had been a fantastic reunion and said they now planned to keep in touch regularly.

She said: “It was brilliant and the concert was excellent as well. She recognised me straight away anyway.

“It was really strange seeing her after such a long time. We’re going to meet up again and are definitely going to stay in touch.”

After leaving school Pauline, who is originally from Condover, later moved to Kidderminster and then Telford and has worked at the Asda store in the town for the past 15 years.

Dorothy, on the other hand, has lived in various parts of the country including Suffolk and York, before returning back to Shrewsbury with her husband who works for the prison service.

This article was posted on July 14, 2008 a

Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2008

After 21 Years, Father Reunited With His Daughter

For 21 years Peter Luddy was left to stare at a photograph of the son and daughter who left for a brief vacation with their mother to her homeland of Austria and did not return.

Those 21 years passed quickly, Luddy said this week, only days after his 22-year-old daughter Justina Linder cleared the gates of immigration at Boston’s Logan Airport a week ago Tuesday. Luddy said he was holding up the photograph of his son James, just two-and-a-half years old, and Justina, eight months, in hopes of being able to recognize his grown daughter.

“The last day I saw her she was a bundle of joy,” Luddy said. “That time has gone very quickly now that she’s here. “I missed a lot of years, but having been with her a week and it’s almost like she had never been gone …now she’s talking back to me.”

Luddy and his first wife, Christina Linder, who worked as an au pair for a wealthy family in New York City, separated and divorced and he was told not to come visit his children. Luddy said he made efforts to stay in touch, sending Christmas presents to the kids through his wife’s family. When Justina Luddy was 10 years old her mother took legal steps to change the kids name to Linder.

Over the years Luddy has made efforts through both the state department and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the agent of the Austrian government facilitating child support payments, to contact his children.

“I went to court and wanted to talk about my rights as a father,” Luddy said. “I always wanted to pay the child support.”

But Luddy, a former selectman was stonewalled. This past winter Luddy said he received a letter from the Austrian government about his son James.

“I got scared, it wasn’t written in English. I thought he might have gone to war and something happened.”

Luddy contacted his ex-wife’s family and they said James was ok. The letter turned out to be an announcement to Luddy that he had met his financial obligations and no longer had to pay child support.

From that point, Luddy said he began pursuing contact with his former wife in effort to communicate with his children. He said when he reached Christina she yelled at him for five minutes.

“I said the phone goes two ways and one of us could have communicated better,” Luddy said.

That phone call led to a quick response from his daughter, who said she wanted to come to America and meet her father.

“The moment she said she wanted to come see me, I was excited,” Luddy said. “She wrote me an e-mail and said ‘a stone has fallen from my soul.’ Waiting for her for three hours at the airport after those 21 years was like an eternity.”

“I thought a lot about him and would it have been better growing up in America,” Justina Linder said on Monday. “Yes, I knew he was here and wanted to get in contact with him growing up, but my mom said no.”

Luddy said he has learned a lot about his daughter in the past week. He said his life has been an open book and that holds true for his daughter. “She’s been very honest with me,” Luddy said.

In an effort to help define her life, Linder has put together an album of photographs chronicling milestones and, she said the second half of the album will be filled with her experiences here with her father.

Linder has been out and about in Harwich and it is quite different from her home in Hohenems, Austria, a mountainside village near the border of Switzerland, where her grandfather is a sheep herder.

“The gardens are perfect and there are no papers or litter in the streets,” Linder said of Harwich. “The people are also very friendly here.”

Luddy said many people have stopped him and his daughter in the streets to congratulate them on the reunion. Luddy said his daughter asked him at one point if he paid them to make those comments.

Justina’s older brother, James Linder, recently moved to Los Angeles and is also planning a trip east to visit with his new found family. Luddy’s daughter from a second marriage, Katrina, now 13 years of age, informed her father and half sister she had communicated with her half brother the previous evening on MySpace.

Katrina was excited to finally meet her half sister, explaining she learned of her existence when she was a little girl and often asked if Justina would ever come and see her.

“I said if you say enough prayers they will come,” Luddy said.

“It’s really good,” Katrina Luddy said. “I love my sister and I can’t wait to meet James. I thought I’d be older, 18, and be going to meet them.”

Linder is here for at least the summer and she has brought her best friend Jackie Dorn with her. The group has already made a visit to Leo Cakounes’ farm and done some horseback riding. On Monday, Linder, who grew up on a farm, wanted to make another trip to the farm to ride a horse and work with the animals.

“I will stay until I become homesick and then I must go home,” Linder said. “But I will come back every year to America. Next time I will come with my boyfriend.”

Luddy said he has called Austria again to talk to his former wife.

“I wanted to thank her for doing such a good job raising Justina,” he said. “Once my son comes here my life will be complete.”

Father reunites with his daughter after 8 years

REMBAU: “It is the most meaningful day of my life.” This was all K. Naga Jothi could say when she was reunited with her father yesterday. She was 10 when she ran away from home.

Now a young woman of 18, she was in tears when she saw G. Karthik Kesarao who had come from Johor Baru to the private Vivekenanda Home near here to take her home.

Naga, who said she ran away because of problems with her stepmother (her parents divorced when she was a year-old), spent the last eight years at various government children’s homes.

“I am so glad that I have found her. The last eight years of my life have been miserable,” said Karthik.

Also present at the reunion were Karthik’s wife K. Gunavathi 36, and son Mageswaran, nine.

Karthik said he had sought the help of various bomoh and mediums to look for his daughter.

“All they told me was that she was alive. Deep down, I knew that I would be reunited with her one day,” he said, adding that he did not lodge a report as Naga had run away from home several times before.

Karthik said he would enrol Naga for skills classes so that she could apply for a job later. However, the first thing he would do when they got back to Johor Baru was to get her an identity card.

He would also be holding thanksgiving prayers.

Last Friday, The Star reported that Naga was pining to be reunited with her family. The story was picked up by a vernacular paper and the link established after a radio station deejay contacted Karthik.

Friday, Jun. 6, 2008

Long-lost cousins reunited after decades

A SEARCH for the past unearthed a future of friendship for these long-lost cousins.

When Yvonne Anderson enrolled on an evening class to trace her family tree she was hoping to delve into the past and discover her ancestors.

What she was not expecting to find was a cousin she never knew existed – sitting across the table from her on the very same course.

And she discovered that she and cousin Joyce Bell had grown up just a few miles away from each other in Newcastle’s East End, but their paths had never crossed.

And as the pair chatted they realised they’d both grown up in the East End and now live just a few miles away from each other.

Mrs Anderson, a 61-year-old widow and grandma-of-two, said: “I started the ‘trace your family tree for beginners’ course at Fenham Library in January.

“At our first class we introduced ourselves and said which family name we were going to research. I was looking into the name Greenall, from Cumbria, and the lady sitting opposite me said she was looking for that name too.

“At the time we just laughed and said ‘I wonder if we’re related’, but we were amazed to find our grandfathers were brothers, making us second cousins.

“We were about six weeks into the course before we found out we were related, but the more I saw Joyce the more I thought she resembled my auntie.”

Mrs Anderson now meets up with her new-found relation every Saturday morning at the library where they are working to produce an online family tree.

And after discovering just how similar their lives have been, they are surprised their paths had not crossed sooner.

Mrs Bell, a 68-year-old widow and mum to Glenn, 41, and Joyce, 43, was born and grew up in Walker, while Mrs Anderson spent the first part of her childhood a stone’s throw away in Byker, before her family moved to Fawdon when she was nine.

Mrs Anderson now lives on Etal Park Estate and Mrs Bell lives just a few miles away in Blakelaw – just one street away from Mrs Anderson’s only child, Kelly, and her two children, Keelan, three, and baby Kaila.

Mrs Bell said: “It’s just incredible we found each other; lovely really, and we will definitely keep in touch.

“We have started a more advanced family history course and we’re going through library archives, army and war records and lots of books.

“It can be quite tricky, but I think I’ve found my great-grandparents and I’ve gone back as far as 1840. In those days not everyone could write properly, so the records we’ve found are not always that clear.

“It’s been so interesting and I’m very pleased I started the course. I joined out of sheer curiosity. I’ve always liked looking at local history.

“It would be great if our story could inspire other people to look into their family history. It’s been a lot of fun and some people may find relatives they never knew they had, just like us.”

Mrs Anderson has now started to produce the family tree on the website Genes Reunited and hopes to keep adding to it.

The women’s story has delighted the staff at Fenham Library.

Caroline Miller, head of adult learning for Newcastle City Council, added: “There are all sorts of benefits to be gained from an adult learning course.

“They can help you catch up on skills not learnt at school, to improve your job prospects or they could just be for a bit of fun.

“Joyce and Yvonne’s story is the first time I’ve heard of someone uncovering unknown family members.”

Thursday, May. 15, 2008

Family Reunited After 6 Years Apart

A family is finally reunited after spending six years half the world away from each other. We first told you about Joseph Shaka’s family in October right here on Channel Six News. He’s a pastor from Nigeria who moved to Wichita Falls to make a better life for his family.

He was randomly selected in 2001 for a visa lottery to the states. He wanted to bring his wife and five children with him from Nigeria, but getting their visa approved and coming up with the money took some time.

“A tormented time,” Joseph said.

Last Wednesday the children finally got a chance to put their arms around their Father again.

“Seeing my dad again is the greatest thing,” his oldest daughter, 14 year old Blessing Shaka said, “We are here now, we are very happy to be with him.”

Lynda Myracle is a missionary who sponsored the Shaka’s. Along with the community’s help, Myrcle said Congressman Mac Thornberry’s office assisted with the immigration process and worked with the embassies.

“They have worked with this family for a little over 2 years and were really instrumental in getting them here,” She said.

Six years of ups and a lot of downs of separation was worth their happiness today.

“We have finally made it. They are here right now since Wednesday. We’ve been enjoying ourselves. Thank you, Thank you. We are grateful,” Joseph said.

The next step is getting the children ready for the 2008-2009 school year.

Wednesday, May. 14, 2008

Daughter reunited with mum

A CARDIFF mum has been reunited with one of the three daughters taken from her 22 years ago.

Jackie Saleh is now nursing her daughter Rahannah, 26, through the same ‘tug-of-love’ heartbreak she suffered when her three eldest children were taken to live in Yemen by their father.

Jackie, who has fought since 1986 to be permanently reunited with her daughters, said Rahannah had been forced to leave her own child Anisa, four, behind in the Middle Eastern state.

She said: “She’s come all this way but she’s had to leave her daughter. From Page 1

“She’s heartbroken. I know how she’s feeling because I was in the same situation. I don’t know what we can do.”

Jackie, a lunchtime supervisor at Hywel Dda Junior School near her home in Cambria Road, Ely, said her daughter had appeared unannounced on her doorstep at 2.30am yesterdaymon after fleeing her husband when the relationship broke down.

The 46-year-old had seen her daughter only twice since she was taken to Yemen by father Sadeq Hussein Saleh.

The last time was nearly eight years ago when Rahannah and her sister Safia came to stay for a couple of months over the summer.

All three of Jackie’s children were kept in Yemen by their father, and eventually married Yemeni men. She has only ever seen the third daughter, Nadia, for 10 minutes in a snatched meeting at her school when she travelled to the Middle East to track the children down.

Rahannah, who barely speaks any English, told the Echo she was happy to see her mother again but broke down in tears on the telephone when she was asked about her own daughter, Anisa.

Jackie is now hoping that she can get the authorities to help bring Anisa to live in the UK but said so far the British representatives in Yemen had been unable to help her in her own battle.

She said: “Something’s happened. She’s come over here with hardly any personal possessions.

“It was totally out of the blue, I wasn’t expecting it at all.

“We’ll have to see what happens now because it’s pretty difficult. She’s left her daughter which she’s upset about. He said she couldn’t take the girl. She’s said she’s not going back. She was quite upset when she came here.

“I’m hoping now that I can get the British Embassy involved and get her daughter here.”

Jackie’s husband Alan Freeman, who has supported her in her battle to keep in touch with her estranged children, said Rahannah had endured a tough, four-day trip with little money to get to the United Kingdom.

He said: “We fought for 16 years to get the children back but it’s the first time we’ve got close to having one of them back full time. We lost all contact with them. We thought that was the end. We last spoke to her seven years ago. She’s put on a little more weight but no, she hasn’t changed.

“She knocked at the door and I leaped out of bed and she was crying ‘dad, dad’ and I said ‘it’s Rahannah knocking’.

“She’s run into the house crying and her mum’s all upset.

“It’s brilliant. To be honest, it’s something that her mum’s dreamed of and something we’ve always talked about. We never dreamed it would actually happen.”

Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2008

Shipmates reunited after 62 years

Methuen resident Arthur Mansor lost touch with his former shipmate and friend Stanley Moore of Lansing, Mich., after World War II.

The Navy veterans served on the USS Dutchess (APA 98) in the Pacific and worked as radiomen, copying messages they didn’t understand from Washington. They were not privy to the information in the messages; they simply passed them on to be deciphered.

They served together in 1944 and 1945.

A mutual acquaintance reunited them after 62 years. But it wasn’t until February that they finally reconnected in person. They met in Naples, Fla., while Mansor was visiting his daughter. It was the first time they had seen each other since December 1945.

Mansor turns 84 on April 2.

“I don’t want to blow our own whistle, but I think we’re in a little class by ourselves, still being here at 84,” Mansor said.

Moore is considering coming to the Merrimack Valley to visit Mansor in June. Mansor was one of three Lawrence natives to serve on the ship at the time. He served in World War II and the Korean War.

How did you two find each other?

We’ll go back to about 1988, 1986. My partner here aboard ship, he had relocated to Lakeland, Fla., and the ex-police chief of Methuen, Cyril Feugill, he retired to Lakeland, Fla. And as fate would have it, Mr. Moore happened to be in the same area. He found out the chief was from Lawrence, the same place I was (living) in WWII, and asked if he knew a certain person, (Arthur) Mansor. (The chief did know Mansor.) I got a call from Stan Moore, who had finally located me. We still hadn’t seen each other until this past month in Naples. We communicated maybe a half a dozen times, but we never could get together.

What was the first thing you said to him?

When I first saw him, I says, “You’re looking better than I am.” And he says to me, “You haven’t changed a bit.” And I had to call him a liar.

What was your job all those years ago?

Radioman 2nd classman. Also, Stan Moore, my co-partner here, he was also a radioman second class. Our job was to copy incoming, outgoing messages; mostly incoming during the war because of radio silence, which was in effect at the time. We would take incoming radio messages, which were coded and were then sent to the decoding room for deciphering, and then sent to the appropriate officers.

Where did you go in the Pacific?

We operated out of San Francisco. We went to Pearl Harbor, which was our operating base. From there, we went west. We went to all the islands in the Pacific. We went to the Philippines. Our final (voyage) while the war was still on was to Okinawa.

How did you and Stanley meet?

Being radio operators, we struck off a very good friendship. If you’re aboard ship for all that time, everybody has their own personalities. (Moore is) the type of guy like myself, we’re laid back. We have a lot of things in common.

Monday, Mar. 31, 2008

Golfer reunited with paramedic who saved his life

A HEART attack patient has been reunited with the paramedic whose quick thinking helped save his life.
Gerry Wooster, of Bradley, Wrexham, was struck by a sudden heart attack when walking away from the fourth hole at Rhuddlan Golf Club last October.

Doctor Jamie Wainwright, a St Asaph based GP, was following in a party behind Gerry and rushed to give first aid.

Rhyl clinical team leader Ken Cook, was manning a rapid response vehicle when he was informed of the incident, and made his way to the golf club within four minutes of the call.

Arriving at the club, the paramedic decided getting to Gerry on foot would lose the patient valuable seconds, vital for his chance of survival.

And so quick thinking Ken decided to pack his bags onto an awaiting golf buggy, and use the vehicle to continue his rapid response to the patient on the fourth hole.

He explained: “When I arrived the patient was being resuscitated by a fellow golfer who just happened to be Dr Wainwright from Pen-Y-Bont surgery, St Asaph. Following further resuscitation and five shocks from the defibrillator, we managed to restart his heart.”

The paramedic was quickly joined by Rhyl Ambulance crew Tony Stephens and Sam Jones who negotiated their emergency vehicle across the fairways to reach Gerry.

The crew assisted with the patient’s breathing in the back of the ambulance until they arrived at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

Now Gerry, a member of the 18 hole club since 1967, has been reunited with Ken at the club and given a chance to thank him.

Thanks to the clinical assistance he received, Gerry, who has been fitted with a defibrillator to keep his heart
beat at a comfortable rate, is already back testing his handicap of 17 on the fairways of Rhuddlan.

Ken added: “It’s just great to be able to see how well Gerry has recovered from his heart attack. It was very nice to see him here and see how much of a respected man he is at the club.”

The past chairman of the Clwyd Boarder Alliance, Gerry said: “Ken and the crew did a very good job, if it wasn’t for him and Doctor Wainwright on the golf course, I wouldn’t be here today.

“I came off the par three fourth green on the course and I was suddenly on the ground. Doctor Wainwright was behind us and ran 100 yards to help me. Then Ken was the first ambulance man to reach me on the course.”

He added: “I have played a few holes since October, but now I am getting around in a golf buggy instead of walking. It will take me time but I am getting around a bit better…I can still swing!”

Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2008

Dad reunited with sons after more than two decades

A FATHER who had not seen his children for 21 years has been re-united with both his sons thanks to the Chronicle.

We revealed how Frank finally found his eldest son Ashley, 26, who he hadn’t seen for more than 21 years – despite living just 10 miles away from each other.

Now, Frank has at last met his other son, Damien, 24, after years of separation.

Frank, 58, who runs a guesthouse on Ocean Road, South Shields, said the best moment of the whirlwind past fortnight was simply hearing his two boys call him dad.

He said: “That meant a lot to me.

“I really wasn’t expecting them to call me dad after all these years.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for all this to happen.”

Frank proudly spoke of their future together as a family and said he would never let them go again.

“We’ve definitely got a future together. I’m not letting go now.”

And Damien, of Medway Place, Cramlington, said he decided to start searching for his dad after he saw a photo of him at Christmas last year.

He said: “I don’t know why, but seeing the photo triggered something. I didn’t want to ask him why I hadn’t see him or anything. It was about finding out who I am.”

He also said he could see similarities between the two of them. He said: “It was quite strange seeing my dad because he was so different to the photo I had always had.”

And Frank said he’s looking forward to being there for his two sons in the future.

He said: “Neither are married yet, so I’m really pleased I’ve still got that to look forward to.”

Frank said: “When I’m walking around with them I introduce them as my two boys.

“It’s the sort of thing you hear on the Oprah Winfrey Show, but it’s not the kind of thing you expect to happen to you.

Damien, who studies music at Newcastle College and DJs in some of Newcastle’s biggest clubs under the name DJ Capo Ultra, said: “I haven’t thought about the future in too much depth, it’s still a recent shock. I’d just like to keep seeing my dad as much as possible.”

Monday, Feb. 25, 2008

Sisters reunited

A CLEVEDON (UK) woman who has been searching for her half-sister for more than 40 years has been reunited with her at last.

Pamela Fear, aged 62, had known about her mother’s baby since she was 13 years old, and has also wanted to meet her.

In an article in a January edition of our sister paper, The Weston & Somerset Mercury, long lost sister Diane Elsmore, who only lives 20 miles away in Highbridge, said she was looking for any surviving relatives, after she was informally adopted as a baby.

Diane, aged 70, was trying to track down her birth mother and any siblings who may be living in Weston.

Just a few weeks later, Diane, who was named Sheila Harroway on her birth certificate, found her half-sister Pamela Fear.

After an anonymous phone call to the Weston & Somerset Mercury, we found out Diane’s mother, Alma Coombes, had stayed in Cherry Orchard Residential Care in Clevedon, but had sadly died a few years ago.

The nursing home was able to pass a message on to Alma’s daughter Pamela and she was soon on the phone to Diane.

Pamela said: “My auntie had told me my mother had had another baby and that she was born in Westonzoyland.

“When I had a knee operation in December 2006 I was off work for a few months and decided this would be the perfect time to try and track her down.

“I went to agencies, libraries and record offices but couldn’t find anything out.

“When I was growing up I always wanted a brother or sister to play with.”

Pamela, who lives near the nursing home in Cherry Avenue in Clevedon, went to school in Weston and often took trips to Burnham, just a few miles from where Diane now lives.

Diane, of Southwell Crescent in Highbridge, said: “I’ve lived in Highbridge for the last year and cannot believe I was just 20 miles away.”

Diane only had her birth certificate and a few details to go on when searching for her relatives. She knew her mother had been a hairdresser in Weston and been 17 or 18 years old when she became pregnant.

The couple that raised Diane said her father’s name was Lesley Harroway and he ran a furniture shop in St James Street in Weston.

Anyone who may have information about the father’s side of the family can email newsdesk@thewestonmercury.co.uk

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007

Adopted son finds birth mom at his workplace

For years, Steve Flaig, a delivery truck driver at the Lowe’s store on Plainfield Avenue, Grand Rapids, had searched for his birth mother.

He found her working the cash register at the front of the store.

For several months, he and Christine Tallady had known each other casually as co-workers. Last Friday they met for the first time as mother and son.

“I have a complete family now, all my kids,” said Tallady, who has two younger children. “It’s a perfect time of year. It’s the best Christmas present ever.”

For Flaig, it was the reunion he had dreamed of for much of his 22 years. He had always known he was adopted, and his parents, Pat and Lois Flaig, who raised him since his birth, supported his decision to search for his birth mother.

It was a tough decision for Tallady, unmarried at the time, to give him up when he was born on Oct. 5, 1985, but “I wasn’t ready to be a mother,” she said.

She left the adoption record open, figuring he might want to contact her someday, and she often thought of him, particularly on his birthday. But life went on. She got married, had two more kids.

Four years ago, when Flaig turned 18, he asked DA Blodgett for Children, the agency that arranged his adoption, for his background information. A couple of months later, it came, including his birth mother’s name.

He searched the Internet for her address and came up empty. In October, around the time of his 22nd birthday, he took out the paperwork from DA Blodgett and realized he had been spelling his mother’s surname wrong as “Talladay.” He typed “Tallady” into a search engine and came up with an address on West River Drive less than a mile from the Lowe’s store.

He mentioned it to his boss, and she said, “You mean Chris Tallady, who works here?” He was stunned.

“I was like, there’s no possible way,” he said. “It’s just such a bizarre situation.”

He had been working at Lowe’s for two years. She was hired in April as head cashier.

Over the past two months, “I would walk by her, look at her from a distance, not knowing how to approach her,” Flaig said. “You don’t come stocked with information on how to deal with this.”

It would seem tactless to walk up and say, “Hi, I’m Steve, your son.” What if she rejected him?

Last Wednesday, on his day off, Flaig happened to be driving past the DA Blodgett offices. He decided to stop in and tell them of his find. An employee there volunteered to call Tallady for him.

Tallady, 45, was surprised to get the call at Lowe’s. How did the DA Blodgett people know where she worked?

“The first thing that crossed my mind is something was wrong with him,” she said. Was he sick? Did he need a blood transfusion?

“And then she said, ‘Christine, he works with you,'” Tallady recalled. “It was a shock. I started crying. I figured he would call me sometime, but not like this.”

She sobbed a lot that day, tears of joy. Flaig called her later that day, and last Friday the two, who until then had occasionally said “hi” as coworkers do, met at the Cheers Good Time Saloon near the store. They hugged, sat and talked for 2 1/2 hours.

On Tuesday, they hugged again in the store where both were working the day shift. They know their paths must have crossed many times. Both graduated from Northview schools. Both attended St. Jude’s Catholic Church.

“We both hate olives, both love roller coasters,” Tallady said.

Flaig hasn’t decided whether to search now for his birth father. He’s anxious to meet Tallady’s other two children, Brandon, 10, and Alexandra, 12. Her husband, Dale, out of town on business, wants to be there when they meet, maybe this weekend.

“My husband is wonderful,” Tallady said. “He wants it to be a whole family thing.”

Friday, Dec. 14, 2007

Reunited With My Dad After 47 Years

WHEN Ken Agland and Carol Wallace met for the first time in 47 years, neither could help shedding tears.

They had been brought together in a hotel in Inverurie, a father and daughter who hadn’t seen each other in nearly five decades.

Until that moment, all Ken had been to Carol was a hazy memory of a bulky figure who used to build her toy models.

For Ken, Carol was still the little girl he had last seen when she was aged just four and whose photographs he had treasured all that time.

But when the tears finally subsided, the two strangers faced trying to get to know each other once again.

Thankfully, time had not broken the father-and-daughter bond and the pair are now, just four months since they were reunited, the best of friends.

Ken, 76, said: “Meeting Carol has made my life complete.

“I have never forgotten her and I can still remember the last time I saw her.

“That’s an image I have carried with me through the years. Meeting her again was an incredibly traumatic and emotional moment. But, at the same time, it never actually felt as if we had been apart for all those years.

“It was just like seeing someone who had just come back into my life but who I have always known, especially once we were able to dry our tears and actually start talking.”

Mum-of-six Carol, 51, added: “I was incredibly nervous and anxious about meeting Ken.

“I didn’t know what to expect but, once we had been together five or 10 minutes and stopped wiping the tears from our eyes, it just seemed so easy.

“It felt strangely familiar and we had a great conversation.”

Ken, who is originally from London, met Carol’s mum, Jean, when he was stationed with the RAF near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.

They married in 1956 and baby Carol arrived not long after. They were a happy family but problems arose when Ken, who had left the RAF after five years, struggled to find work as an electrician.

He said: “I ended up having to work away from home a lot, which isn’t what you want when you are a newly married man.

“It eventually came to a point where I couldn’t get regular work, so I decided it would be best to come down south, find better employment and a home for us all to live in.

“Then Jean told me there was no way she was leaving Scotland and I didn’t want to go back into the situation where I couldn’t work.

“I am sorry to say things just went downhill from there. Looking back, I don’t think you can blame anyone, it was just such a different world back then.”

Over time, Ken lost all contact with his ex-wife and daughter Carol.

He said: “The hardest times were weekends and holidays when you saw other dads out with their children.

“Even after I married again and had another two children of my own, I never forgot Carol.

“I even remembered the date and time of her birth, which always surprises a lot of people.”

Back in Peterhead, Carol was growing up calling another man dad. Her mum had also remarried and, while Carol had a few shady memories of a man who used to play with her and who took her to stockcar racing, she always thought he was an uncle or family friend.

It wasn’t until she was getting married and needed her birth certificate at the age of 21 that she found out the truth.

Carol said: “It was very hard. Finding that out completely stumped me, took the wind right out of my sails.

“I was shocked and spoke to my husband-to-be about it all and we decided we would deal with the wedding first and then see where things went from there. But events overtook us.”

While Carol was on honeymoon, the man she had grown-up calling dad died.

Then her mum Jean fell ill with motor neurone disease.

Carol, who now lives in Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire, said: “She was struggling hard enough to communicate anyway, so I didn’t feel comfortable pushing her with questions.

“With all that going on, the issue of my birth father just sort of fell into the background and that wasn’t helped by the fact that the rest of the family never spoke about him.

“Now I think they were just trying to protect me and, of course, back then those kind of family secrets were big deals.”

Over the years, Ken made several attempts to trace Carol.

After the first few attempts failed, he found himself on holiday in the north of England one year and decided to drive up to Peterhead to see if he could find his lost daughter.

It was a fruitless search but a few years later his other daughter made a bit more headway on the internet. But after discovering Carol’s married name and a few other details she, too, hit a brick wall.

So by the time a letter from the Salvation Army landed on his desk four months ago, Ken had just about given up ever seeing his eldest daughter again.

He said: “It was totally out of the blue and my first thought was how on earth did they get my name and address?

“Then I read it and re-read it and knew that I just had to phone. It took just minutes to establish that the Carol looking for her father was my daughter.”

The Salvation Army passed on Ken’s address to Carol who wrote her father a letter immediately.

Carol said: “My husband and I had discussed trying to track Ken down when my children were small but we decided then there was no point. There didn’t seem to be a good reason for us to do it at that stage. And, looking back, I think I probably wasn’t ready for it either.

“Things changed this year and I think the change was brought on by a string of family events.

“One of my uncles died, which brought the realisation we are mortal and losing the next generation. Then two of my children got married this year, which made me realise that there was a bit missing from my family.

“It was then I decided to look for Ken.”

When Ken received the letter from Carol he answered her straight away, including his phone number and a message telling his eldest daughter she could phone him any time.

He said: “I think she hummed and hawed when she got the letter and then picked up the phone. But it wasn’t at all strange to hear her voice, she just sounded familiar.

“What was lovely was my wife, Celia, took the phone from me and told Carol, ‘welcome to the family’ and thanked her for the blessing of another six grandkids.

“Family are everything and without that, you have nothing.”

Ken and Carol were finally reunited at the start of September. For four days they did nothing but talk, getting to know each other again after 47 years.

Ken said: “Carol and I decided that everything started from the moment we met again. The past is gone and we can never make that up.

“Thankfully, what happened doesn’t seem to have done Carol any harm. We have become great friends.”

Ken and his wife have since been guests at one of Carol’s daughter’s weddings and went to her Uncle Gordon’s 50th wedding anniversary party – after all Ken had been his best man.

Ken said: “It is great, we now have one great big enlarged family. I would tell anyone thinking about getting in touch with a family member they have lost touch with to do it and do it now.

“None of us know how much time we have in front of us and this is the time of year to do it. Believe me it is more than worth it.”

Ken and Carol’s story will be told as part of the Reunited programme on BBC1 at 10.45pm on Tuesday, December 18.It is part of the BBC’s Hard Christmas season.

‘Anyone thinking about getting in touch with family they’ve lost touch with should do it now. None of us know how much time we have in front of us …’

Mother, children reunited in time for daughter’s 16th birthday party

Beth Gifford was trying to decide what her soon-to-be 16-year-old niece wanted for her milestone birthday.

Most 16-year-olds are in to cars, makeup, clothes, cell phones, and iPod and mp3 players, but none of those made Kimberly Dawn Vaughn’s wish list.

Her special gift was more personal.

“I wanted to find my mom,” Vaughn said.

Gifford said Vaughn and her 14-year-old brother, Steven, have been separated from their mother, June Dale Vaughn, since they were 1 and 2 months old. The children’s parents separated and eventually left them in the custody of their grandmother, Mary Wimberly.

“The children, over the years, have seen their father periodically, but all the time they asked about their mother,” Gifford said. “They had questions about her that we couldn’t answer.

“I never knew my biological father, so I understood there was a void there and I wanted to help them fill that void.”

During the week of Thanksgiving, Gifford asked Kimberly what it would mean to meet her mother.

“She said it would mean the world to her,” Gifford said. “A few minutes later, she came up to me and said all she wanted for her birthday was to know her mom.”

Kimberly said she often thought of her mother. “I didn’t remember her, so I wondered what she was like, what she looked like and what she was doing. There was just something missing in my life.”

They made the decision to start the search. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Gifford, Wimberly, Kimberly and Steven drove to Ripley, Tenn., the last place she knew Vaughn had lived.

“When we got there, we got a telephone book and started looking up everyone in the phone book with her maiden name,” Gifford said.

After they made several telephone calls with no luck, Gifford said they turned to the police department.

And as if by fate, someone at the police station was a friend of Vaughn’s.

“They told us where she lived and how to get to the house,” Gifford said.

Gifford said as they drove to the residence, Kimberly and Steven were noticeably nervous.

“They were doing a lot of squirming around, nervous acting because they didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

“It was exciting but I was scared,” Kimberly said. “We didn’t know what to expect from her, or even if she would want to see us.”

That question was quickly answered.

“My roommate came to my bedroom and said my children were at the door,” Vaughn said. “I jumped up and ran down the hallway.”

She said though it had been almost 15 years since she had seen them, she recognized her children at once. “I started crying and they started tearing up,” she said.

“There was a lot of hugging and a lot of tears,” Gifford said.

Kimberly said her first thought was, “this is my mom.”

“It was almost like a dream, because I had wondered if we would ever see each other,” Kimberly said.

When Vaughn heard about her daughter’s birthday wish, she was more than willing to make the trip back to Alabama.

“I couldn’t wait,” she said.

Vaughn said she had tried to find her children through the years but had no success.

“When she moved to Tennessee, they were still living in Illinois, apparently that’s where she had tried to find them; she didn’t know they had moved to Alabama,” Gifford said. “After so long, she had just about given up.”

Not only did Vaughn want to be at her daughter’s birthday, but she came back with them that day.

“All the way home, she sat in the backseat between Kimberly and Steven. I think they hugged on her just about the entire way home. It made my heart feel good,” Gifford said.

For two weeks, Vaughn has been “getting to know” her children. Steven said it’s difficult to describe what it’s like having his mother back in his life.

“The last two weeks we’ve spent a lot of time together, kind of getting to know each other,” he said.

Kimberly said it’s been nice having her mom back in her life.

“It’s been everything I thought it would be,” she said. “There’s a happiness that I had never felt.”

The 36-year-old Vaughn said she plans on continuing to be in her children’s lives. She plans on being with them at Christmas and she wants them to come visit her.

“It took so long to get back together, I’m not going to lose them now,” she said.

On Thursday afternoon, Kimberly celebrated her 16th birthday with her family, which finally, included her mother.

“It was the best birthday present I could have received,” Kimberly said.

“It was a pretty good gift, the best one I could have given her,” Gifford said.

“It makes me cry every time I think about it,” Vaughn said. “(Kimberly) wanted me for her birthday. I plan on being a part of more to come.”

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007

Family reunited for Christmas

Lien Nguyen spent most of the past decade half a world away from his son.

They’ll sit down together this year to a Christmas dinner provided by the Empty Stocking Fund.

“I’m looking forward to the family reunion,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “This has been nine years without each other.”

Nguyen, 79, came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1998 through a Catholic Charities resettlement program. He lives in an apartment across the street from one of his four sons in Knoxville.

Nguyen was once a village policeman in his home province of Vinh Long. That was before the fall of South Vietnam to the Communists.

Nguyen spent years in prison and in a re-education camp before coming to the U.S.

“It was a hard life,” he said.

He spent the next nine years in East Tennessee, waiting for all his sons to join him. The last son to come over, Vu, arrived four months ago with his wife, Anh, and their 3-year-old daughter, Nguyen.

“I’m very happy to see him again,” the father said. “It’s a better life here than in Vietnam.”

A daughter remains there. She’s married with children of her own, and Nguyen doubts she’ll make the move to the U.S.

Nguyen doesn’t speak English and suffers from arthritis and his eyesight has begun to fade, making most things a blur.

But he can still see the lights that shine from the manger scene in front of the home.

Vu built what the family believes may be Knoxville’s first example of a mangco – a traditional Vietnamese-style fixture of the season.

The decorations go beyond a simple manger scene, incorporating poinsettias, Christmas trees, lights, wreaths and stars.

They plan to enjoy the holiday beauty as they dig into their ESF basket, which will include a turkey and trimmings, canned goods, fresh fruit and toys for Nguyen’s granddaughter.

Nguyen said he can’t imagine spending the holiday any other way.

“This year will be special,” he said.

The family will be among about 8,000 people enjoying a brighter holiday thanks to the program, a News Sentinel charity that began in 1912.

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007

A family reunited by an old photograph

Like many families, we have custody of old pictures that are too precious to discard but frustratingly unlabeled. The long-gone relatives, so stiffly posed in these little portraits, knew who they were and saw no reason to write names or dates on the back. They couldn’t have imagined who would be looking at the pictures more than a hundred years later, wondering about the people, the occasion, even how the pictures survived.

Many of these pictures are the cardboard cartes de visite, literally calling cards or visiting cards, although that was not how they were popularly used. But in our family, one of these old pictures did become our calling card for “visiting” a family that separated in the 1890s.

Photography got its popular start in 1839 with the invention of the daguerreotype. Later came pictures in the form of ambrotypes on glass. Such early pictures were one of a kind; no negative for multiple copies existed in these processes.

Tintypes, also known as ferrotypes, were introduced in the mid-1850s, but the real popularization of photography came with the carte de visite.

Cartes de visite were so named because they were the size of calling cards of that era. The photo was pasted on cardboard measuring 2-1/2 inches by 4 inches, usually with the photographer’s business information beautifully presented on the back.

Parisian photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri patented this new albumen-based process in 1854 using a camera with four lenses that efficiently and cheaply allowed up to eight prints to be made from a single glass negative plate.

Suddenly nearly everyone could afford a family photo, at least for special occasions. Disdéri and his process, it is said, became wildly famous after Napoleon III stopped his march to Italy to pose in Disdéri’s studio for his own portrait. The carte de visite craze was born.

Carte albums could be found in virtually every Victorian parlor, collections that included not only family members but also famous people such as actors and singers. “Card portraits, as everybody knows, have become the social currency, the ‘green-backs’ of civilization,” Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in 1863.

Photographers made fortunes. The biography of one British photographer reported that more than half a million eggs were being delivered to his studio each year to meet the demand for these prints! (They were made with the albumen from egg whites mixed with salt to make a shiny surface and bind the photographic chemicals.)

The carte de visite album that survived and was handed down through our family includes a built-in music box, providing dual-media parlor entertainment, perhaps presaging the living room television set. The studio props used in the pictures are fascinating glimpses into the tastes of that era: balustrades, heavy curtains, sumptuous carpets, potted palm trees, fine furniture, and columns, even simulated outdoor scenes with little bridges and painted landscape backdrops.

The carte de visite process and popularity had moved to the US by 1860, and many Civil War soldiers left behind cartes de visite for their loved ones and carried similar pictures with them to war.

Around 1862 the larger so-called cabinet cards (4-1/2-by-6-1/2-inch cardboard) appeared and also became popular. We have several of those in our family collection, too, all frustratingly unidentified.

The popularity of cartes de visite diminished after 1900, however, when Kodak began selling the hugely popular cardboard Brownie box camera for $1.

Remarkably, these delicate prints have survived for generations. And one of ours, showing our grandfather Joseph and his sister Martha in a serious, awkward sibling pose, turned out to be literally a carte de visite for my sister and me.

Years of searching for descendents of the sister left in Berlin when our grand-father emigrated finally paid off when a particular letter, one of many we had written hopefully and painstakingly in German to presumed relatives, reached our second cousin in Berlin.

She had initially ignored our letters, suspicious of who was writing to her and asking questions about the past, until we photocopied the carte de visite of Joseph and Martha, along with other pictures, and mailed them.

It turned out that the cousin had the same carte de visite, passed down from her grandmother Martha. The occasion for the picture was their confirmations, she explained to us in her first reply.

When she saw our copy of the same picture she had, she was finally convinced that we were really family.

By the second letter, she had invited us to visit Berlin and stay in her house. We were no longer strangers, but rather family to be welcomed back more than a hundred years after parting.

We eventually did visit and that occasion, documented this time with digital photos, bridged two generations of separation and showed that in some cases, at least, cartes de visite literally are calling cards.

Monday, Nov. 5, 2007

A meal 22 years in the making

Feet away from Ban Van Phan, people talked about him. They talked about his life. They talked about his feelings.

And he had nothing to say about it.

It could be due to the fact he speaks little English. Or it could be because Ban Van Phan just left a Vietnamese prison after 22 years and was now sitting in a strange place called Rockford, eating dinner with his family.

“He doesn’t believe it,” his son, Vinh Phan, said of the 70-year-old man’s American experience.

It’s been three weeks since Ban Van Phan arrived in Chicago and was taken to Rockford to be reunited with his family. On Sunday, as a thank you to those who helped in the decades-long effort to free him, about 20 people gathered in an open house to eat with the reunited family.

From the outside looking in, the event appeared mundane. But for those like Pam Herriott, Vinh Phan’s English instructor, their insides churned with emotions.

“It’s incredible. It’s a miracle,” Herriott said. “I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.”

Since Ban Van Phan has arrived stateside, the family has thanked many of those who helped with his release. Herriott, who helped Vinh Phan pen letters to government officials for his father’s release, said that the family stopped by her house recently and gave her a pen set.

“It was just so beautiful,” Herriott of Rockford said.

Stanley Campbell, a social activist who heads Rockford Urban Ministries and a Vietnam veteran, was equally elated to see the family reunited.

“Just to see them happy together, that’s the good stuff,” Campbell said.

His son has shown Ban Van Phan CherryVale Mall, where he was wowed by seeing a glass-enclosed elevator for the first time. And he has developed an affinity for American fare — something the family hopes will plump the slender man up.

“He likes McDonald’s,” his son said.

There are still hurdles left for Ban Van Phan. His visit to America expires after one year, and the family is still working to get him granted refugee status, which would allow him to remain with them. They located to the States in 1994.

And Ban Van Phan plans on joining in the same classes that helped teach his son English. And then maybe he will express how he feels for himself, something a lot of people are waiting to hear.

Monday, Oct. 29, 2007

Long-lost sisters are reunited in senior home

Dorothy Caudle lived only 300 feet from her sister, but the two had not seen each other in 38 years and had no idea they were staying at the same senior living community in Tempe.

The women were reunited this month after a chain of events that staff members and relatives call miraculous.

“We didn’t even recognize each other the first day,” Caudle said.

Things started to fall into place on Oct. 7, when television news crews showed up at Westchester Campus of Care in Tempe to cover the 100th birthday of Gladys Clark, a resident at the faith-based facility.

During the centennial celebration, a cousin informed Clark’s 67-year-old son, Cloyce, that his mother’s younger sister was also living at the facility. Cloyce investigated and discovered that his 83-year-old aunt had lived about 300 feet away for nearly a year.

With the help of relatives and Westchester staff member Bonnie Peterson, the sisters were reunited about one week later on Oct. 15.

Peterson called the reunion a “miracle,” and Clark agreed.

“Whatever the Lord has for me, that’s what I’ll do,” Clark said.

Clark has lived at the Westchester apartments for about 10 years.

Her younger sister moved to the facility last November.

Caudle used her middle name, Juanita, while growing up but went by Dorothy in later years.

The sisters are originally from Texas. Clark has lived in Arizona since 1927, and Caudle moved to the state in 1958.

Caudle said she moved to Tempe to be near a daughter. Though she was aware that Clark lived in the state, she said she had no idea they were living in the same facility.

The sisters did not elaborate on how they became estranged more than 38 years ago. They came from a family with 11 children, Caudle the youngest.

Peterson said the size of the family might have been a factor.

“Large families can lose track of each other,” Peterson said. Another factor might have been the sisters’ age difference.

Clark left Texas shortly after Caudle was born to marry and settle in Arizona.

Without things such as e-mail to keep in touch, the sisters said their busy lives kept them from contacting each other.

After their initial reunion, the sisters have met three more times. They say they have a lot of catching up to do — mostly talking about family and their numerous nieces and nephews.

“There’s no telling how many,” Caudle said with a laugh.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007

Family reunites after 10 years

After 10 years apart, a family reunited with their son at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Monday.

Alvan Ozana was just 12 years old when he was separated from his family while fleeing political violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“There was shooting everywhere, there were guns everywhere,” said Alvan’s father, Pierre Ozana.

Ozana worked as an advisor to the overthrown president and was told to leave the country or he would lose his life. Amidst the turmoil, his family became separated.

“We had to cross the river and that wasn’t easy,” explained Ozana, who along with his wife Stella came to Raleigh under political asylum. For years they thought their son Alvan was dead. A phone call in 2006 changed all that. A friend had found Alvan living on the streets in Africa.

“For me it is like a dream,” said Stella Ozana.

The family enlisted the help of the Triangle Red Cross, the Embassy in the Congo and Rep. Brad Miller’s office to help get their son into the United States.

“There were times Pierre would come in and I could tell he’d been up all night crying in frustration,” said Triangle Red Cross worker Tracie Thomason.

On Monday, those tears were for joy as Alvan finally arrived more than a year after that initial phone call.

“I am so happy, so happy,” said Alvan as he fell into the arms of his parents.

The family plans on letting Alvan get some rest after the long flight and then they want to hear all the details of his life during their separation.

The Triangle Red Cross says over the next few weeks it will help Alvan adjust to his new life in America.

Monday, Oct. 22, 2007

Turkish Couple Find Swapped Baby After Four-Year Search

NAJRAN — Ali and Yaqub were mistakenly switched at birth in a hospital in Najran where they were born four years ago. Ali, born into a Turkish family living in Najran, was mistakenly given to a Saudi couple whose son Yaqub was given to the Turkish family by the hospital employees, according to a report in Al-Watan newspaper.

Yusuf Jawed, 37, used to live in Najran where he owned a workshop. Yusuf described to Al-Watan newspaper how he took his wife to the King Khaled Hospital in Najran when she went into labor. It was there that his baby was switched with that of a Saudi family.

“When I first saw Yaqub, I felt he wasn’t my son. There was a very serious feeling growing inside me. I contacted the hospital several times and I met a number of officials there, but they didn’t take my suspicions seriously. One of them told me to fear God and asked how I could think such a thing,” said Yusuf, adding, “I also contacted a former manager at the hospital who also didn’t listen to me.”

After sometime, the family returned to Turkey with Yaqub. Yusuf’s extended family also felt Yaqub looked different and that it was impossible that he could be his son. Feeling uneasy, Yusuf and his wife underwent DNA tests, which confirmed that Yaqub was not the couple’s biological child.

Yusuf and his wife then decided to go back to Saudi Arabia to search for their real son. They lodged a complaint at the Ministry of Health, which in turn ordered another DNA test that proved that Yaqub was not their son.

The Interior Ministry together with the Health Ministry assigned a team to search for the Jawed family’s biological child in Najran. After sometime, it was found out that a boy with Turkish features was living in a Saudi family. The family was ordered to undergo a DNA test, the results of which have not been released yet.

“My wife considers Yaqub as her own and treats him like that. She has been doing so for four years. My wife has also begun teaching him Arabic to help him when he is reunited with his family,” said Yusuf.

The family is currently in Saudi Arabia waiting to be reunited with their son. “Yaqub is always longing to go back to Turkey and see who he thinks are his relatives. This worries me a lot,” said Yusuf, adding that he is ready to swap Yaqub for Ali as soon as the authorities confirm that Ali is his biological son.

“I love both of them and will do my best to help them both,” he said. “We celebrated Eid Al-Fitr this year differently, as we felt it may be our last Eid with Yaqub. We went to amusement parks and tried to make him happy as much as we could,” said Yusuf.

Meanwhile, the Saudi father, who asked his name not be published, said that his family is currently going through an emotional dilemma. “We can’t really make a decision until we’re sure that Ali isn’t our biological son. That is only after the DNA results are known,” he said.

Dr. Ali Zaery, a psychiatrist, said, “An immediate swap could negatively affect the children and could be harmful to them psychologically. Both children are now integrated in their surroundings and cultures. A sudden swap could cause them psychological shock. It’s like separating a child from his or her family and then handing him or her to a strange family,” said Dr. Zaery.

He added that the children could become depressed, which could lead to separation anxiety disorder in later childhood. “The children need to be prepared for the swap, which could be done by having them visit both families. During the visits, the children should be gradually introduced to the idea that they have a second father and mother, and a second family. That would prepare the children mentally to accept the new situation,” said Dr. Zaery.

For Yusuf the wait to be reunited with his biological son is far too much to bear.

Family Reunited After 22 Years

A nightmare that lasted 22 years is now over. A Blackfoot family has been reunited after their son was allegedly kidnapped by his father and taken to Mexico.

Erasmo Martinez was raised in Mexico and always knew he had family in Blackfoot. In a strange twist of fate, he was forced to come back to the states where he ended up finding his family, 22 years later. A family a bigger than he thought.

“I had no idea where he was,” said Johnna Salinas, Erasmo’s Mother.

That was until last week.

“They stole my identity, my name and used a different picture,” Erasmo Martinez.

Martinez came to Utah to clear his name after someone stole his identity, and he knew he had family in Blackfoot, so he set out to find them.

“So he decided while he was here he would look for us and see what he could find.”

After some searching, a reunion but his search was for 2 sisters and his mom, when he caught up with the family, he found out he had another sister.

“So happy, I thought I only had 2 sisters, now I have 3,” said Martinez.

It’s larger than he thought, but he’s happy after 22 years he finally gets to know his family, and they get to meet the brother they never had, but could’ve used.

“I think our lives would’ve been different if we would’ve had a brother, we maybe wouldn’t have gotten in so much trouble, we would’ve grown different,” said Sasha Martinez, Erasmo’s youngest sister.

And the family has no hard feelings toward his father, who still lives in Mexico.

“When I seen him everything went bye bye, I mean its like I was angry, oh you bet I was angry, but now he’s here now I don’t care anymore, I got him,” said Johnna Salinas, Erasmo’s Mother.

Erasmo has only know the family for a week, but has already taken an active roll in their lives.

“He tells me what’s right and what’s wrong but if feels good, because I never had that from a brother, I had 2 sisters but not a guy figure in my life,” said Sasha Martinez.

Well the family is almost complete, Erasmo was married in Mexico a little more than a year ago, and now he’s planning to have another wedding here in Idaho, so his mom and sisters can be in it.

Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007

Adoptee reunited with long-lost parents

Imagine you’re a young die-hard biker.

Some of those guys you meet at motorcycle runs are old enough to be your dad. What if one of them is, and you don’t know it?

Brad Rosenow of Kimball and Mike Bacon of Stewart have lived that surreal experience.

Rosenow was born Nov. 23, 1981, to Bacon and his then-girlfriend, Ruth Miller. Miller and Bacon were teenagers at the time and gave Brad up for adoption. Twenty-five years later, Rosenow has been reunited with his biological parents.

A firm believer in adoption, he wants to give something back. He and some fellow Victory motorcycle fanatics are heading up a July 21 Adoption Ride to raise money for Catholic Charities’ adoption services.

More on that later, but first let’s go back to 1981, the year Miller and Bacon were faced with a tough decision.

Not ready for parenthood

When Miller — now married and going by the name Ruth Taylor — was 18, she and Bacon conceived a child.

“I was barely able to care for myself,” she recalled. “I didn’t have any of the mothering skills at 18. I was just a little tomboy.”

“Mike and I, we were young and we knew we’d be causing more problems if we tried to fix this by getting married,” she said.

The young couple believed abortion was out of the question.

“I was 17 at the time,” Bacon said. “We were not mature enough, but we were mature enough that abortion never crossed our minds.”

So, they gave the newborn son they named Jeremy up for adoption.

“That was hard,” Bacon said, “but we knew it was the right thing to do.”

Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007

Friends reunited after 46 years

Two school friends who have lived at opposite ends of the globe for more than 45 years have been reunited and are hoping to find some other familiar faces.

Jeanette Babb and Kathleen Walton, now both 67, have known each other since they met at Northicote High School in Wolverhampton in the 1950s.

Shortly afterwards Kath’s family moved to Nottingham when she was only 15 but the classmates made a promise to keep in touch.

However, six years later they were separated even further when Kathleen fell in love with a New Zealander and emigrated.

The pair kept in touch by writing regularly.

Grandmother-of-two Mrs Babb from Bilbrook, Wolverhampton, said: “I remember when Kath left all my friends said: ‘Why are you promising to write to that girl? You’ll never do it’. But I had made a promise.”

Mrs Walton, who was a hospital receptionist in New Zealand before retiring, is on a visit to the Midlands.

In preparation she found some old class pictures from her primary school days at Oxley Primary school in Bushbury Lane, Wolverhampton.

One shows the school recorder group pictured with teacher Miss Lunn and the other is a class shot with Miss Grove the headmistress.

Grandmother-of-six Mrs Walton, who lives in New Plymouth in New Zealand, said: “We both have very happy memories of secondary school but when I found all these pictures from my primary days I had to stare at the faces for a long time before any on the names came back to me.

“I would love to get in touch with them. Hopefully someone will remember me from my maiden name of Davey.

“I have very happy memories of Wolverhampton and it all comes flooding back to me when I am here.”

Soldiers are reunited after 50 years

MORE than 50 years after they were serving in the Army together, nine ex-soldiers met up to reminisce about their time in the Malayan jungle.

Bill Carr, 72, sent the Echo a picture which was taken while he was doing his National Service with 7 Platoon, C Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1954.

Originally from Maindy, Cardiff, Bill was shown the picture by his brother Jackie who had found it.

In the photo, Bill is pictured with fellow soldier Brian Mills, and he asked for others in his platoon to get back in touch.

Since then, six contacted Bill and some even brought other friends who had served in the Army at the same time for the get-together at Upper Boat in Treforest.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” said Bill, who now lives in Tonteg, Pontypridd, with his wife Jo. “The table was covered in all our old photographs.

“We’ve now made so many arrangements and we are going to keep in touch and try to meet up again.

“It was lovely to reminisce, there was nothing else mentioned except the time we were in the jungle.”

Through the original story in the Echo in December, Bill was contacted by an old Cardiff school friend, Leonard Walker, who now lives near him in Tonteg.

“We see each other about three times a week now,” said Bill, a Cardiff City supporter. “From one picture going in the paper, the response has been great and now I’m so busy talking to people on the phone. I’ve met some new friends through this that I hadn’t known 50 years ago.

“If it hadn’t been for the Echo, we may never have all got in touch.”

Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007

Old friends reunited in battle of the ‘pensioners’

Wayne Arthurs and Jonas Bjorkman, with a combined age of 71, creak into action today with wheelchairs at the ready. Both have struck a powerful blow for Wimbledon’s senior statesmen by setting up this throwback of a third-round tie, but Australia’s Arthurs could be forgiven a certain fragility after he needed a fix of anti-inflammatories just to get here.

The personalised wheelchair did not need to be scrambled, such was Arthurs’ lively straight-sets dismissal of 11th seed Tommy Robredo, whereupon he suggested he was having far too much fun to retire. Apparently, the enticement of top-100 ranking – his for the taking should he advance to the quarter-finals – was too great, since it would allow him a passport beyond the pasture of the Challenger circuit.

“I’ve had the apprenticeship longer than most at the Challenger level,” Arthurs said. “To go around full circle, I can’t do that again.” Even so, this represents quite a volte- face for a man who, before his arrival at the All England Club, had declared a concrete decision to retire. To hint that a comeback is “possible” at 36 is unlikely to impress his daughter, Amber, whom he has been serenading with Sesame Street rhymes in an attempt to embrace domestic life.

But the competitive fire, once reignited, is difficult to extinguish. Arthurs has become the oldest player since Jimmy Connors in 1991 to reach the third round at Wimbledon, and insisted that a creaking hip was nothing that a dose of Voltaren could not cure. “It’s a little anti-inflammatory pill, which helps pretty well when you’re over 35,” he explained. “I’m holding up.”

Originally, Arthurs’ appearance in SW19 was meant to form the second and final part of his valedictory tour, after the Australian Open in January. The prospect of a showdown with Bjorkman, though, instantly revived his motivation, given the physical nature of past contests. In the Davis Cup three years ago, he was on his guard when he received a ball squarely in the nether regions from the Swede.

Bjorkman remembered it well. “It was a normal forehand volley, so he didn’t have time to react and he got it an uncomfortable place,” the 35-year-old said.

Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007

WWII friends reunited after 62 years

Friendships forged during World War II can last a lifetime. Even if two old war buddies are separated by 62 years since last seeing each other.

Memorial Day weekend, Mike and Cathy Voegele of Jackson Township drove U.S. Army veteran Paul Brown of Owensville to visit his friend and fellow veteran Arthur Pitstick living in Yellow Springs for their first reunion since Brown left Iwo Jima in 1945.

“We pulled into the driveway and he (Pitstick) came out on a little step by the door. Paul Brown was in the car and he said: ‘Well that’s Pitstick,'” said Mike, who helped Brown find his friend using Pitstick’s name from a letter he sent to Brown just after leaving Iwo Jima. “They were beside themselves after seeing each other. It was really great.”

The reunion happened because Mike was interviewing Brown at St. Louis Church in Owensville for a book he is writing on World War II veterans from the church, said Brown. Mike then used the Internet to find Pitstick and set up the meeting by telephone.

“It was a regular handwritten letter, and he wished me a lot of luck after I got home,” said Brown about leaving Iwo Jima and his friend behind after his service ended. “I presumed he was still on a farm in Yellow Springs, and that’s where we found him.”

The two war buddies spent about three and a half hours talking to each other about their experiences, said Mike. And each had a souvenir they collected from the war while they were stationed on Tongatapu Island. Brown had a small hand-carved native canoe, Mike said, and Pitstick had a bed cloth hammered from tree bark.

They also looked over pictures from their basic training in Camp Shelby, Miss., he said, which were taken before they were placed into L Company of the 37th Division and shipped to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese.

“We were all friends,” said Brown about the men he served with in the U.S. Army. “Everybody looked out for their buddies. You didn’t think about yourself.”

Friday, Jul. 13, 2007

Heroes reunite after 60 years

When pensioner Norman Wood hadn’t seen his boyhood pal Ron Rogers since their days fresh out of the Navy, he’d given up all hope of tracking him down.

Having lost contact with him during the late 1940s, Norman, of Staveley in Wolverhampton, often wondered what his old friend had got up to over the years.

Only last year, he patiently called all the Rogers’ in the Wolverhampton telephone directory in a bid to trace him, only to be told each time he had got the wrong number.

At 87, he’d resigned himself to the fact he was unlikely ever to see Ron at this late stage in his life – until someone passed him a recent copy of the Express & Star.

There, on page 25, was a picture of a beaming Ron, now aged 83 and celebrating his diamond wedding anniversary to his wife Mary, another childhood pal of Norman’s.

Yesterday, almost 60 years since their last meeting, all three had a tearful reunion after our reporting team put them back in contact with each other.

Norman, who was driven to the Rogers’ Bilston home by his daughter, choked back tears and said: “I’m so happy I’ve found him again. I’m totally overwhelmed.”

They spent the day talking about their days working together at a popular Black Country greengrocers, sharing their fascinating tales from the war, and learning about each other’s achievements over the decades. Norman had been 15 when he first met Ron, then 12. Ron worked as an errand boy for a fruit and veg shop in Willenhall, while Norman worked at Joseph Heath greengrocers in the town’s High Street.

After leaving Willenhall Central School in 1937, Ron went to work at Joseph Heath, which was one of a well-known chain throughout the Black Country, and struck up a firm friendship with Norman, a confident lad he looked up to and admired.

Working at Heath’s was no easy feat – every Monday morning they would be faced with preparing “five ton o’ spuds” for customers – and the working day ended when everything was sold. Norman recalled: “The bags of potatoes were huge, about one hundredweight. There would be a stack of them waiting for us. We used to have to carry them on our right shoulders, and some carried them on their head,” he said.

Rabbits were also a popular on the dinner table in those days – and Norman and Ron became skilled in skinning the animals. In fact, it is this image of Norman that Mary Rogers, who also worked at Heath’s as a teenager, remembers so well.

“I remember one day he was there, with braces of rabbits around his neck singing You Are My Heart’s Delight,” she laughed yesterday. Mary had also known Norman as a young lad, and remembers going around to his mother’s in Catherine’s Cross, Darlaston, from her own home in nearby Mill Street, to have some dripping on toast.

Despite the hard slog, all three remember their days at Heath’s very fondly. In 1939, a friend of Norman’s came into the shop and told him he was going to Birmingham to sign up for the Navy. Norman joined him and was called up a year later. Ron wanted to be in the Merchant Navy, but ended up in the Navy on submarines. Both have amazing tales of bravery, excitement and terror from the years spent fighting for their country, and they both managed to hit the headlines back at home with their courageous feats.

Norman, an air mechanic, was a survivor of HMS Ark Royal, which was sunk by a German U-boat in November, 1941. She was torpedoed off the east coast of Gibraltar and, while at first it looked as if she would make it to port, was eventually defeated. Norman and the rest of the 1,600 crewmen were told to abandon ship. Norman said: “I remember jumping over the side into this dinghy and there were six of us. We rowed and rowed and eventually we came back to Gibraltar. It was quite terrifying,” he said.

When Norman arrived home, the Express & Star reported on his return with the headline “Safe and Sound”.

Ron, according to Norman, is a “hero”. He was a stoker on the submarines, and while aboard HMS Tally Ho, sunk a Japanese cruiser. His story also featured in newspapers around the country.

During their time in the Navy, Norman managed to track down Ron down in Colombo in Sri Lanka.

He said: “I can’t remember how I knew he was there, I remember someone telling me the crew from Tally Ho were there and I went down looking for this Willenhall lad. I told them I was from Darlaston and we soon found each other,” he added.

But after a few meetings back home while both members of the Naval Association, they eventually lost touch.

Their last meeting was in 1948 at the Castle Hotel, Darlaston.

Ron said: “Norman and the others asked me where I’d been wounded, but I couldn’t lift my trouser leg high enough.” Norman said they all formed a circle around him so he could do the honours.

After their marriages they drifted apart.

Thursday, Jul. 12, 2007

Daughter and dad reunited after 24 years

A FATHER and daughter met up for the first time in nearly 24 years – thanks to an appeal in the Lancashire Telegraph.

Donna Simpson, 28, of Barnstaple, Devon, contacted the Telegraph last month as she searched for her father who lived with her in Darwen when she was born.

And only hours after the story appeared, her father, Michael Charles Williams, 51, who still lives in Darwen town, emailed her.

Donna, a legal secretary, phoned him back straight away.

And a month after they first made contact Donna made a trip to Darwen.

Donna, who has an eight-year-old son Brandon, said: “It was overwhelming and wonderful. We were both overjoyed.
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“I last saw my dad when I was four-and-a-half years old and it is great to see him after so long.

“I would never have thought he was my dad if I passed him in the street.

“He’s short and I’m tall but he said he would have recognised me.

“I do feel complete now. It is like that old cliche.

“He’s everything I thought he was and more.” Donna said her father was “overwhelmed and overjoyed” when he saw her.

She has travelled up to Darwen to find her dad before but was unsuccessful.

She wanted to make contact as doctors wanted to find out more about her family’s medical history as she suffers from a severe form of Type 1 diabetes.

Donna added: “I have found out my medical family history from my dad and I have also learnt about things from the past which I never knew about.

“We are going to see each other as often as we can.”

Donna also discovered she has a younger half-brother and a younger half-sister.

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