Memorial Book: Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945

IN MEMRORIUM

This is a difficult blog for me to write for today 11/15/15 as for the first time ever I saw photos of a few of my ancestors. Unfortunately three of the four people in the photos were of those lost during the Holocaust. To see their photos and know what happened to them was heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes. I also found out one that survived passed away only seven years ago…if I had only researched my paternal side earlier I may have been able to meet her.

The black/white photos of the people in this blog were either from Yad Vashem or from the private collection of Anita Herze Jorg.

Eleven members of my family (that I know of as of this date) were taken from their homes, seven were killed in the Holocaust and four survived.

Through the above book I was able to find exactly what happened to those that died, two that survived. I found information on two others that survived by visiting a web site from Kaiserslautern, Germany web site pages dedicated to each family member with Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) dedicated on July 10, 2014 at the last address where they were free at  Rudolph-Breitscheid-Str. 71, Kaiserslautern. Two currently have testimonials for them in Yad Veshem and I will be submitting them for the remainder over the next few weeks.

AddressLocation

Rudolph-Breitscheid-Str, 71 pinpointed on the city map

02her_all_stHere are their stories and photos for those I have today. The daughter of one who survived still is living and I have written to the resource I found to see if I will be able to contact her as well as see the interview done with her father Erich Herze back in 1994 before he passed. Yes, I have hope to see more photos especially of ancestors that go back before the generations on this blog.

Geissmann, Hedwig: born Hedwig Jakob, sister of Johanna Jakob Herze, 1st cousin twice removed

Born: January 24, 1882 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz, resident of Kaiserlautern

Married: on 10/02/1912 to Silvan Geissman in Essweiler, he died in service in during WWl

Deportation from: Baden/Pfalz/Saarland

10/20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Recebedou internment camp

08/03/1942 Drancy collecting detention camp

Murdered:  08/12/1942 Auschwitz extermination camp

Herze, Johanna: born Johanna Jakob, sister of Hedwig Jakob Geissman, 1st cousin  twice removed….daughter of Lazarus Jakob/Barbara Franck…my 2x great aunt/uncle

Born: February 15, 1874 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz, resident of Kaiserlautern

Married: on  10/24/1894 in Essweiler moved to Kaisrslautern in 1902

Deportation from: Baden/Pfalz/Saarland

10//20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Noe internment camp

Murdered:  03/05/1943 Noe internment camp

Herze, Hugo: husband of Johanna Jakob Herze my 1st cousin twice removed

Born: 07/29/1870 in Randerath / Geilenkirchen / Rheinprovinz

Married: 10/24/1894 in Essweiler & moved to Kaiserslautern in 1902

Deportation from: Badem/Pfalz/Saarland

10/20/1940 Gurs internment camp

02/21/1941 Noe interment camp

Murdered:  02/07/1943 Noe internment camp

HugoJohanna

Johanna & Hugo Herze-1935 Kaiserlautern

GursMarker

The marker at Camp Gurs of entrance memorializes those who entered on 10/22/1940 and were murdered, including 5 members of my family

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Hugo & Johanna appear on the 2nd column…whoever visits will have to remember them!

Franck, Auguste:

Born 07/08/1878 in Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz resident of Koln son of Herman Franck/Ester Moses…Herman brother of  Joseph Franck my 3x great grandfather 3rd great uncle

Deportation: 06/12/1942 Theresienstadt, ghetto

Murdered: 07/05/1942 Theresienstadt, ghetto

Herze, Adolph: son of Hugo/Johanna Herze, 2nd cousin two times removed

Born: 12/13/1896 Essweiler/Kusel/Bayern/Pfalz

Married: Rosa Lazar…date not as yet verified

Escape: Adolph & Rosa escaped to Brussels, Belgium

Deported: to Dusseldorf

Deported: 12/11/1941 to Riga

Murdered: 03/06/1943 Riga Jungfernof Aussbenlager ghetto

Herze, Rosa: born Rosa Lazar wife of Adolph Herze

Born: 08/01/1902 Kaiserslautern/Bayern.Pfalz

Escaped: to Brussels, Belgium with husband

Deported to Dusseldorf

Deported: 12/11/1941 to Riga

SURVIVED:…went to Hamburg, Germany after liberation, immigrated to the United States in December 1946

RosaLazarus

Rosa Lazar Herze immigration papers into United States

Herze, Hannilore: daughter of Jacob/Lydia Horn Herze….Jacob is son of Hugo/Johanna Herze…Hannilore, 3rd cousin once removed

 Born:07/13/1933 Kaiserslautern/Bayern/Plafz and lived there

Deported: 10/22/1940 from Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs interment camp

Murdered: 08/1/1940 Gurs internment camp

Herze, Hedwig: daughter of Jacob/Lydia, sister of Hannalore Herze 3rd cousin once removed

Born: on 01/23/1931 Kaiserslautern before the marriage of her parents, though her mother was Catholic she was officially listed as Jewish

Deported: 10/22/1940 from Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs internment camp

Moved: 02/26/1941 to Aspet (Haute Garonne) with 49 other children from the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) of Gurs in the children’s home Maison des Pupilles

SURVIVED: On 28 January 1948 she returned to Kaiserslautern, where on 08/27/1949 she married Oskar LF Ebling, they had two children. She died in Kaiserslautern 1974.

HedwigHannilore

Hedwig with younger sister Hannalore-1935 Kaiserslautern

Hedwig

Hedwig in orphanage (far right)

Hedwig2

Hedwig in orphanage (front 6th in from right)

Hedwig3

Hedwig: Hannalore has been murdered and Ruth moved…she is alone:note the star of David having to be worn

Herze, Jacob: son of Hugo/Johana Herze, 2nd cousin twice removed

Born: 02/13/1901 Neukirchen/Daun/Rheinprovinz lived in Kaiserslautern

Married: Lydia Horn

Imprisoned: 11/12/1938-12/10/1938 Dachau concentration camp for protection (?)

Deported:  10//22/1940 Baden/Plaz/Saarland Gurs internment camp

Murdered 04/27/1941 Gurs internment camp

camp-de-gurs

Camp Gurs Cemetery for the 1017 murdered here: Hugu & Hannalore Herze, both of whom died here in 1941, rest here and as people walk through the markers each will be remembered as will the other 1015

Herze, Lydia: born Lydia Horn

Born: March 29, 1912 in Kusel, daughter of Michael and Katharina Horn, family was Roman Catholic

Married: 06/06/1931 to Jacob Herze in Kaiserslautern and lived there

Deported: 10.22.1940 Baden/Plafz/Saarland….this after repeated request on the part of official bodies to renounce her Jewish husband, Lydia refused. She was sent back from Gurs to Kaiserslautern, where she was obliged to do forced labor and lived on February 5, 1943 to October 7, 1944 in the basement Straße 9, with her mother. Between October 1944 and July 1945, after escaping Kaiserslautern, she lived in Hamburg.

SURVIVED: She remarried on 03/29/1960 to Kurt Nagel, Lydia died on 08/16/1992 in Kaiserslautern.

Herze, Ruth, Renee: daughter of Jacob/Lydia Herze,  3rd cousin once removed

Born: 06/30/1939 Kaiserslautern/Bayern/Plafz and lived there

Deported: 10/22/1940 Baden/Plafz/Saarland to Gurs inernment camp, The 16-month-old girl Ruth was the youngest ever transported to Gurs

Moved: The one and a half year old Ruth was brought by Blanche Raphael, pediatric nurse and Max Teichert to a children’s home to Limoges, France. They became her foster parents.

SURVIVED: Ruth knew a long time nothing about their origins and about the fact that both her mother and her sister were still alive. Erich Herze, the youngest brother of Jacob their father, finally found her and contacted her.. Mediated by Erich Herze her mother Lydia traveled to Limoges in 1950 to bring her youngest daughter home with her. This, however, was thwarted by the foster parents.

The relationship between Ruth Herze and her birth mother remained difficult, however, she had good contact with her older sister Hedwig and her uncle Erich, she visited him often in Malmö, Sweden, where he had fled in 1939. Around 1960 Ruth moved to Nimes and learned the profession of pediatric nurse. She then moved to Boulogne near Paris and later by Cagnes-sur-Mer near Nice, where she died of 2008.

Two children Erich Herze and Wilhelm Herze fled Kaiserslautern in 1939. Erich fled to Malmo, Sweden where he married had at least one child, a daughter. He died during a visit to Kaiserslautern with his daughter in 1999 and was returned to Malmo, Sweden for burial. Wilhelm immigrated to the United States, to Argentina. to Paraguay where he died in 1986.

This is the Synagogue the Herze family attended in Kaiserslautern from 1902 until 1938 when it was destroyed to make a parade ground for the Nazis:

img_Kaiserslautern_ext DSC03223

Replica of Synagogue entrance memorial built in Kaiserslautern by the Jewish community

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Plaque at the memorial entrance showing before and after destruction

A human being is forgotten until his name is not forgotten!

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Blood Relative Finds Me After 51 Years Separation

Before I begin this story I should note I am 63 years old. The blood relative I am speaking of was born in 1962; making him only 51 years old and that’s the reason for the title being what it is.

I should also note that to protect his interest and others involved in this story I will not be sharing many last names or location information.

Here goes:

On the evening of June 5, 2013 I received the following E mail:

Hello, you don’t know me however we are related by blood. I am Michael , the biological son of Cora Frances Lee (passed away 16 April 2001 in Detroit Michigan), who was given up for adoption back in late 60’s. My brother was Gregory( passed away 29 August 2006 in Longwood, FL). I was given this information by a court appointed investigator from the Wayne County Family courts in Michigan. I have been looking at your website

I was wondering if you would have any other information on my birth mother and my brother? I currently live in Ohio. I know the investigator has been trying to reach you, however I have no ideal if he has had any luck. Well hope to hear from you. He had not reached me but did so a day after Michael’s first E mail.

My initial reaction was this is a scam and someone is trying to get personal information from me. My response I have to admit was extremely rude and blunt.

However, as the evening went on and thinking of the search for my birth family and how difficult it was I began having second thoughts on the response I had written earlier. I decided to write this person a second time:

Probaby came across as rude in my 1st reply as I was/am leary of these types of E mails considering all the crap on the internet. Considering I had to search for my birth family and spent years in foster care in various homes….I can relate to one’s searching. I don’t know why one would say we are blood related. If you are not pulling my leg you will have to tell me why as I don’t know the people you speak of unless they crossed my path in one of the foster homes I was in.

Will see if you write or if not then I know this note was not true.

Michael’s reply came within minutes:

Understand your response. I am doing this stuff a lot later in life, as I am now 51. I will forward the e-mail with information provided to me by the investigator from the court in Michigan. If I have sent this e-mail to the wrong person I am sorry. I am attempting to get as much information on my birth mother and brother a possible. Forwarded e-mail on it’s way.

No further E mails came that evening and I retired for the night not sure if in fact I would ever hear from this person again.

One of my early morning rituals is to check for E mails that may have come in overnight. There was one from Michael! I sat there is astinishment and repeating the words “Holy Crap” as I read it. The E mail contained all the information found by the court investigator in Michigan had found.

Due to the length I cannot put it in this blog. However, it contained his birthmother’s maiden name * death information, his brother’s birth/adopted name & death information. The most amazing information was including my birthmother,s name as well as her sisters and extensive information on my grand parents and great grand parents. There was other information but I won’t bore you with it.

Yes, “Holy Crap” Michael is a blood relative…he is a first cousin. I for quite awhile just sat there stunned and read the E mail a number of times.

I sent a quick E mail to Michael confirming all the information he had sent, welcomed him into my family and arranged for us to speak on the phone that evening after I returned from work out of town.

We spoke only for a short time later that evening…it was very personal and private and I will keep it that way. Needless to say I was thrilled to have been found by a first cousin as I had had no contact with blood relatives since the passing of my birth mother, birth father as well as my first cousin Dorothy in 2005. We agreed we would have a much longer phone conversation on Saturday.

Though I felt comfortable with all the information Michael shared I wanted just a bit of further information and called the nmuber of the court investigator the next morning. He just verified all the information and also told how he had found the information needed to confirm Michael and I were indeed blood related. He was also very happy Michael and I had made direct contact.

Now I am sure you are wondering how in fact is he a blood relative and first cousin….I won’t keep you wondering any longer…LOL!

My birth mother had two sisters; Doris and Frances. During the search for my birth mother I was very aware of them. It was through Doris that I actually made contact for the first time with my birth mother. I had also searched for Frances but was unbale to find any information past 1952. At the time she was in the state hospital due to adolecent behavior not suitable to my grand parents. No one had heard from her of her since she was released from the hospital in 1952.

It was through Michael I found out why I had not been able to find Frances nor could any other family member over the years. Frances, had purposely I believe, changed how she listed her name after the hospital release. I believe she did it to make sure no one from the family would ever be able to find her as she no longer wanted contact with her parents who had put her in the state hospital in the first place. Frances’s maiden name was Frances C. Adams and she changed it to Cora (found out the C was for Cora) F. Adams. At the time of her death it was Cora F. Lee.

Michael and his late brother Gregory were Cora’s (Frances)two sons…they both are first cousins! Because of the life she chose to live at some point both Michael and Gregory were taken from her and placed for adoption. Both were lucky to be adopted by very loving families and their first names were never changed. From the information on Cora’s probate records after her death it appears Gregory remained in contact with his birth mother and also left a clue for Michael if he ever attempted to search he or Cora. Since Cora has passed I won’t detail her lifestyle but to say it was not condusive for raising children.

I should note that now all three sisters; my birth mother Roberta and Aunts Doris, Frances (Cora) are now deceased. They all passed within a year time frame.

On Saturday Michael and I spent over an hour on the phone speaking as though 51 years had never separated us. He talked of his birth mother, his adopted family as well as hs family. He lives in Ohio, spent 20 years in the army & now works for the government. He is married & has 2 adult daughters. We shared what info we could on family though we both have unanswered questions. It was great talking with him. We will be staying in touch now through E mails; phone calls but hope in time for a get together probably here in Arizona. Though emotional at times it was a very good phone call!

Unfortunately there is also a sad part to this story. He had a brother ( by the same mother but different father) who she placed for adoption as well. He was 7 yrs olderthan Michael. He passed away in 2006 at age 50. Michael had hoped to find him but of course Gregory passed before he was able to do so. I feel the past several days has been episodes of “As the World Turns” in regards to Michael finding and reaching out to me. A promise I made to Michael when we spoke on the phone Saturday was that I would help him find the adoptive family of his birth brother if possible who had been adopted even though Gregory is deceased….he wanted to find out as much as he could about him. He had his adopted last name and where he had passed which was far more information than I had when I began my birth family search back in 1982.

After he & I talked yesterday I have done some research and hope we at least may have found some of his brother’s adoptive family members…..waiting for a phone call; also have some potential calls to make if that one falls through. Michael is blood; Gregory would have been blood as well….the least I can for Michael now is what I am doing & hope we are able to find the info he is hoping for.

By 7PM Sunday night, my time, I was speaking to Gregory’s older adopted brother Charles! We spent over an hour on the phone. His family is welcoming contact from Michael. They have memories of him and have always hoped he would reachout to them. Long but short story is that Michael & Cora use to visit Gregory’s adopted family in St. Louis, MO before the adoption was finalized so they knew him. Why they also did not adopt Michael is a very heart breaking story and one that totaly disgusts me!

Gregory was bi racial and the family that adopted him was African American. They had a very close relationship with Cora and knowing she could not truly care for Michael were very willing to adopt Michael. The state of Michigan would not allow it…a black family will not be allowed to raise a white child according to the state and ordered ( via a St. Louis, MO court) Cora to return to Michigan with Michael and had him placed in foster care until he was adopted in 1967. He was never to see Cora or his brother Gregory again! Michael spent roughly three years in foster care before his second teacher took an interest him and she and her husband began the process to adopt him. The family later moved to Oklahoma.

I was able to send Michael this E mail late Sunday evening:

Hello Mike~

Well today’s research has paid off! Yes, I called the person’s number I had a 2nd time this evening and YES it is a connection.

I will let them tell you much of what was told to me as I feel it should come from them. Except to tell you that Gregory never fogot about you and it is felt if he had lived he would have searched you out. It is also felt that on Coro’a probate record Michael Adams is in fact you to give you a clue if you searched.

Gregory’s adopted father (Johnnie) has passed away at 88 in 2008. Gregory’s adopted mother (Elizabeth) is 88 and still living. It is felt she would be thrilled to hear from you.

Gregory’s adopted brother (Charles) is the one I spoke to this evening. He very much remembered you and said you were such a beautiful baby ( it was in St. Louis that you & Gregory were together with rest of the family) and very much wants to reconnect with you. Either he or Elizabeth have photos of you as a baby, your birth mother (my Aunt) and of course have photos of Gregory.

Gregory was married and his wife brought a couple of children from a previous marriage into their marriage. I did not ask many questions on this as I figured I would leave that to you.

The person I spoke with….and he will look forwad to your phone call and gave me permission to give you the information you need to do so. I of course won’t share that information here.

There are still some family in Michigan, one in Decatur IL and also Elizabeth is in Fitzgerald, GA (could not find a phone# for her) where the family is originally from before going to Michigan.

I am very elated I have been able to do this for you and have come out with positive results. I wish Gregory were alive to see this day of you reconnecting with the family and so you could have time to share and make up for the time lost. At least though you will be able to reconnect with the family that would have also adopted you if allowed to do so and still wish to be a part of your life.

Let me know how things go!
Cousin Larry~

The next day I received an E mail from Gregory’s older adoptive brother Charles:

Larry,

I am thankful you called me last night. Needless to say, I was totally surprised to hear the subject, Michael’s search for Gregory.

I will be please to speak with Michael about our experiences with Gregory him. Greg is my very special and much loved and missed brother. My family to this day continually prayed for Michael’s well being and hoped to connect with him someday.

Although, Michael does not know us much after all these years, we are excited to hear of his well being and look forward to speaking with him and sharing photos and conversation. He should prepare to have at least two conversations. Initially he and I should speak and if it is acceptable to all my mother would like to talk with him. She is likely to be able to tell him more about Francis Cora (Kitty) Adams.

We always considered him as a member of our family whom we regrettably lost touch. He is a special man having multiple families and three mothers; birth mother (Cora), an early loving mother (Elizabeth) and the dear mother loved that raised him.

We have a few photo that we will gather, scan and send. However, this may take a few days as my mother is in GA and I am in FL. You can be certain we will honor the request ASAP. In the mean time I will see if I can send one or two sooner.

God bless,
Charles

Michael and I have shared a number of phone calls and E mails in the past two months. He has sent phots of himself, family, my Aunt Frances (Cora) with Gregory’s adopted mother Elizabeth and others….since full names are on each I cannot share them here at this time.

Michael and his wife and celebrating their wedding anniversary in September and are talking of flying to Las Vegas for five days. If this plan pans out I will also arrange to go to Las Vegas for at least a day or two so we will finaly be able to meet face to face…I truly hope it will work out! Then I will be able to share photos of us together.

Fifty-one years of separation but am thrilled that separation is now over. He may not be a brother but he is the closest I have to one!

What is Foster Care Like?

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I don’t think I need say anymore!Click on photo to get the full picture and words.

 

A Suggested Gift for a Found Birthparent

Might I make a suggestion? If you find one of your birth parents and a reunion is planned I have an idea for a gift.

When I met my birthmother for the first time at Newark Airport in 1986, I gave her thirty-six red roses; one for each of the thirty-six years of the life she had given me. This is not the gift idea.

During the time of my search I began putting together a scrapbook. The book included pictures of years she had missed, news articles of some of the  accomplishments in my life and a letter about me, why I searched and that I was happy I located her. Photos I was able to share came from age 11 until present as at that time I had no photos of me prior to age 11; I received some only after she passed away. The photos I used was from old Boys Town Times and Boys Town Yearbooks. The news articles also were from the Times, Omaha World Herald, my college newspaper and New York City newspapers. She would be able to see and read of my life from age 11 until 36 when I met her for the first time.

I also made the same book during this time in the event I searched for and found my birthfather.

As I left her suite at the end of our first day together, I gave her “my book” so that she could view/read it privately after I left.

When I met her the next morning she greeted me with tears, a hug and a thank you. Despite how our relationship ended twelve years later, I believe that book is something she treasured for the rest of her life.

She passed away in October 2001.

25 Years Have Passed Since Finding Birthmother

I was sitting around doing nothing a few days ago and suddenly the thought came into my mind; today, March 25th would be the 25th anniversary since I found my birthmother. First I could not believe that 25 years had already passed. Secondly it caused me to reflect back on my 4 year search, 12 year relationship, the bitter end of our relationship and finally the almost 10 years since she passed away.

Today as I commemorate what was a momentous day in my life it is bitter sweet as I reflect all that passed in the 25 years that have gone by.

I began my search in early 1982 when there was no Internet to make searches somewhat easier for folks. It was a long, costly 4 years to reach this day in 1986. The cost was physical, mental as well as financial.

Shortly after beginning my search I sat down and wrote a letter to my birthmother which I would send if I found her; whether she ever agreed to a relationship or not. I gave her a copy of the letter when we first met but kept the original which later was published in my book:

1st Letter to Birthmother:

http://www.larrya.us/mother1.html

I also shared the story of my search/discovery which led to this day 25 years ago:

 

Search/Discovery:

http://www.larrya.us/discovery.html

Not quite two months after this date we were to meet for the very first time though I was already 36 years old. I was to find out the story I had longed to hear for many years…WHY? I would also learn much more, some I was did care to find out but never the less was part of the reunion experience. Her story, our relationship and the bitter end is shared below:

 Birthmother’s Story:

 

Below was to be the final letter ever written to my birthmother. There would be numerous attempts at a reconciliation on my part but it never was to be; as you read in the previous link. She would never read the letter but eventually I was able to read it to her whether she wanted to hear it or not.

 

Last Letter to Birthmother:

 

On October 23, 2001, my birthmother passed away.

In 1982 I began my search in the valley, never knowing if in the end it would result in my finding her. Today, 25 years ago I reached the mountaintop as I found her. This resulted in a stormy, strained 12 year relationship which ended with me back in the deep valley.

Though I stated my answer many times in the past several years I am still asked, Was the search worth it & do you regret having done it?

Yes, absolutely the search was worth it and I DO NOT regret having pursued it nor any of the things that passed in the years since.

I found out who I was, my heritage, answers to so many questions I had while growing up and most of all I was able to have a 12 year relationship with my birthmother. We were able to experience things we never would have if I had not taken the risk of searching for her. The search and all that followed made me a stronger person. I was in many ways able to put my childhood and most of its heartaches behind me, though at times the wounds do reopen for a period.

I thank God that my birthmother did not chose to have a back alley abortion, which is all that was available back in 1950. I am also thankful that she made the wise decision to give me up for adoption though that never came to be. I am thankful the she was a part of my life, even for a brief period and for the pain she caused.

Today as I commemorate this 25th anniversary I continue to pray that in death she found the peace she never was able to find in life and I raise a glass to her thankful that she gave me life!

60 Years Ago Today!!

Sixty years ago today, in the early hours of
the morning, a young nineteen year old unwed woman
gave birth to her first child…a son.

She spent most of her pregnancy in a home for unwed
mothers as her father would not, as he said, allow a
bastard child in his house.

She was uneducated and unable to provide even the
basic needs for her newborn son.

She did what she thought would be best for
him…because she loved him. She placed him lovingly
for adoption within hours after his birth.

She would not learn for thirty-six years that her
hopes and dreams of a loving home for her son never
happened.

The son instead spent the first year of life in a
hospital nursery and also the nursery of the same home
for unwed mothers his mother had spent her pregnancy.

Despite being a white, blond, hazel eye, healthy
baby…no one came forward to adopt him.

Those first days in a nursery turned out to be
eighteen years of being moved from one foster home to
another or institution…fourteen moves in all.

During those years he would attend many schools, never
have long time friends. He at a time would find his
bed on a back porch and be forced to steal food from
other children at school to dampen his hunger pains
from being fed only one meal a day. He would face the
horror of sexual abuse at the tender age of ten. He would
feel he was worthless and attempt to end his pain
and life before age 11.

Somehow, with the help of a few mentors, hope and a
deep inner faith this baby boy was able to overcome
the years of his childhood. He received a college
education and began a professional career.

At age of thirty-one he suffered a massive heart
attack. He could not answer the doctor’s question of;
“What’s your family medical history?” He was
embarrassed and ashamed for as far as he knew…he had
no family to call his own.

He began a search for the person who he thought would
be able to provide some answers…the mother who
lovingly relinquished him thirty-two years earlier.

The search took four long years. It was a painful,
trying and at times a frustrating journey as he met
numerous obstacles along the way.

He remembers vividly the message left on his answering
machine on April 17, 1986…”This is your mother!”
They would speak a few hours later…a phone call that
would last for hours. His spine still tingles and eyes
tear up as he remembers that day now nineteen years
later.

He met his mother not many months later. It
unfortunately was just the beginning to what turned
out to be a very strained relationship at best. He,
however, had his questions answered.

That relationship ended tragically a mere twelve years
later. His mother, on her own accord this time,
rejected her son and wished him dead as she could not
bear learning her son…her first born…was gay.

Despite several attempts at reconciliation by the son;
mother and son were never to speak or see each other
again in her lifetime. She passed away just shy of
three years after turning her son away.

The son, after time, was able to forgive his mother
and to thank her for not only giving him life but
making the decision she did on the day of his birth.
Despite how his childhood was; it had been the correct
decision.

He also was able to search, find and meet his father
once. His father did not wish for a relationship and
his father passed away four years after he found him.

His half siblings, from both his mother and father’s
side, except one rejected him as their brother. The
one remaining sibling also rejected him after their
mother’s death.

The one foster family whom he considered to be Mom and
Dad, even after he was on his own, are both long
passed away.

So today is this person’s sixtieth birthday.
What should be a joyous occasion remains a painful day
as it always has been. It brings forth those memories
of a childhood he cares not to remember. Acceptance by
his new found mother as well as the rejection.

He has in recent years found and met extended family.
They have welcomed him with open and loving arms.

He will receive well wishes from friends, extended
family and others. However, in many ways he will still
feel alone. There will never be birthday wishes from a
mother, father, brothers or sisters…and his heart
breaks.

Despite those painful memories he moves forward. The
hope and faith that sustained him through these
sixty years continues to sustain him.

Yes, today is that son’s birthday. I quietly wish
him a Happy Birthday, though it may not be.

I know each detail of this person’s life…because I
am that son born sixty years ago.

Yes, today I am sixty! The wounds of the
passed have in many cases healed, however, there are
many that just scabbed over waiting to be broken open
anew…they will never heal.

I however once again…thank my mother and father for
this beautiful gift called life!

Fargo/Moorhead Youth Fill the Dome Project Exceeds Goal!

My blog normally includes articles written by me or others I find on the Internet about foster care, thus the title of my blog.

However I am so proud of the youth here in my hometown community of Fargo, North Dakota/Moorhead, Minnasota that I just have to share this story beyond our area.

In the fall of 2007 a group of local high school seniors wanted to do something as a gift to their community. They wanted to collect non perishable foods and funds to be given to those less fortunate in our community. Each year since new seniors have continued the effort.

They did not think small but decided to issue a challenge to all the local schools.

Fargo has what we call the Fargodome. It is the site where North Dakota State University plays their home football games and where numerous big time stars have given concerts. The football floor contains 80,000 square feet.

The group decided their goal would be to fill the dome floor with food items. Thus began the FILL THE DOME PROJECT.

Since that first year (2007), though the foor did not get filled, they were able to raise over 60 tons of food and over $60,000 for their efforts for 2007/2008 combined.

This year the set their goals higher than what was reached in the first two years:

Goals for Fill the Dome 2009 include: 
Raise $75,000
Collect 75 tons of food
Engage 7,500 volunteers

Fifty-eight local schools and a few outside the local community were involved in this year’s effort. Each school would have a square on the dome floor to fill with non-perishables.

There is also a square designated for the community as a whole participate by dropping off items on the designated date or to purchase a food bag from Hornbackers ( a local grocery store gain ) which would be collected and taken to the dome on the given date.

Yesterday was the culmination of the 2009 effort. Schools each had a scheduled time to brings the results of ther collection drives as well as the food bags purchased by members of the community.

Early this morning, after boxing, weighing, and placing all the food on a number of trucks for distribution the results were announced:

97.1 tons of food that came in and out of the Fargodome.
$96,000 (and counting)
2311 food bages were purchased by community members at Hornbachers
(Yes I bought a couple)
Over 2,800 people who have signed their name, acknowledging hunger is an issue in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The Fill the Dome Project not only exceeded their goals for 2009 by a wide margin but also exceeded the total of the two previous years combined.

The Great Plains Food Bank distributes food to local pantries and shelters. Of money raised, 30 percent goes to local groups and 70 percent goes to a mobile food pantry to help in rural western North Dakota.

These same youth, in many cases, helped save the Fargo/Moorhead area by filling and laying over 4 million sandbags this srping in the effort to save our area from flooding. Without their efforts our city would have definitely suffered severe lood damage.

These youth make me proud to live in Fargo and continues to give me faith in our next generation of leadership.

Hats off to ALL involved; many less fortunate will not go without in the months ahead!!

 

Some of the food collected yesterday

 

To date (2007-2009) Fill the Dome has raised over: 

Over 156,000 tons of non perishable food items

Over $157,000

I will be nominating this organization next year for CNN’S Heor of the Year!

 Below are photos from the 2008 drive:

http://fillthedome.org/ftd/Photos.html