A Yearning to Know
François Shalom, The Gazette
March 4, 2000
Finding her Birth Mother and seven siblings after
a twenty-three year search was a dream come true for adoptee
In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage
to know who we are and where we came from. Without
this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter
what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness,
and the most disquieting loneliness.
Alex Haley, in Roots
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28, 1999, my wife, Deborah, laid eyes
for the first time in 45 years on the woman who gave her birth.
The setting was well, let's call it casual: a Tim
Hortons in Hamilton, Ont. But it did nothing to detract from
the drama of the moment or ease the tension of the situation.
Deb and her birth mother, Inge Gogishvili (née Lembcke),
recognized each other instantly. It wasnt hard.
What took you so long? Inge asked of the girl she had
christened Nina Leila. I thought Id see you at my doorstep
when you turned 16.
Then, with a nod in my direction, she added: Didnt
have the courage to come alone, eh?
Deb handed Inge (pronounced Inga) the small bouquet of flowers
that had, for a short while that bright morning, become the object
of an obsessive quest, and then the two embraced.
No tears, no breast-beating, no histrionics. Just heart-pounding
drama. That rare kind where the blood drains from your face and
your mouth is parched dry. Mother and daughter addressed each other
as would two acquaintances who had lost touch. But the superficial
offhandedness was belied by their eyes, which locked with laser-like
intensity and by the deep breaths each took at regular
Inges nervousness was obvious from the long, rapid-fire and
occasionally disjointed answers she gave in a strongly German-accented
As for Deb, she had very nearly given up on her fondest wish: to
see, hear and touch a human who possessed some natural link to her
a physical resemblance, a shared intuition, a mother
in common, a similar taste in chocolates, books, men
any connection at all.
The reunion was far from the end of the search. A lifelong quest
doesnt wrap up quite that neatly.
Particularly stunning was the sudden discovery, for example, that
Deb has seven siblings Inges three sons and
four other daughters.
Such a brood was a dream come true for Deb, who has always idealized
big families, blissfully ignoring the infighting, posturing, bad-mouthing,
feuds, self-promotion, politicking, shifting alliances, exclusions,
inclusions, relentless gossip and other tedious realities of large
The shocking revelation of an instant clan could hardly be topped.
Yet Inge did just that, in a casual comment on this August afternoon
Wanting to know more about her paternity, Deb asked her if one
of the few Children's Aid Society information nuggets wed
been spoon-fed all these years had been true: that her birth father
was a mysterious, moody Russian whod decamped shortly after
an affair with her mother.
Deb's father, Inge believes, is Dimitri Gogishvili, the man shes
been married to for 53 years, the father of their seven other children
the same man who cast Deb out of his house into foster
care at 10 months of age, on March 5, 1954, after finding out through
friends that Inge had been having an affair.
It had been a brief liaison with one Antonio Capobianco, Inge said
candidly. He was a lodger shed known for a couple of years
at the house she and Dimitri had moved to shortly after emigrating
from Germany in 1951.
But she always thought Deb was the product of her marriage.
Oh, sure, youre our daughter, she said with
great assurance though with no proof of paternity.
I told Dimitri, I argued with him, I pleaded with him,
Do you realize you may be casting your own daughter out of
her family, your own flesh and blood?
To no avail.
Inge was placed in an untenable position in that pre-feminist era
by an ultimatum from Dimitri: get rid of Deb, or lose the rest of
her family. There were then three other children.
Not quite Sophies Choice, but a heart-rending decision nonetheless,
one that would stay with Inge to this day.
We would learn later that all Gogishvili siblings agree on one
thing: their parents union was not a happy one. His iron-fisted
discipline and irascibility seem to have made life rather difficult
for the family. Inge, in fact, once left him for 10 years before
working things out to a degree.
But she apparently loves Dimitri and, at 73, has just moved from
their longtime home to a spacious apartment to care night and day
for him, now 85 and in the throes of advanced Alzheimers.
Capobianco, meanwhile, could still conceivably turn out to have
been Debs biological father. He died recently, and we are
in the process of trying to locate his sister, Concetta, who Inge
said tried hard but in vain to adopt Deb.
As it turns out, Deb lived the first half of her life with her
adoptive parents within a few kilometres of her birth family in
Hamilton and on the same street her newly found sibling
George has recently moved to.
Deb had talked with Inge by phone before meeting her, so her warmth
and openness did not come as a complete surprise. It was far from
clear, however, what kind of reception Deb would get from these
four sisters and three brothers: George, Charlie, Tamara, Michael,
Mariam, Sophia and Natela. It seemed to us at that point that our
luck was bound to run out, that the siblings, some middle-aged,
would object to the upheaval and mayhem we were certain to inflict
on their peaceful existence, and would resent the intrusion.
Their heartfelt welcome was not just immediate, it was emotional,
articulate, apologetic to Deb, blazingly sincere and
the most curious experience of our lives, bar none.
That August night in Hamilton, after our kaffeeklatsch with Inge,
we met her daughter Mariam, and Mariams husband, Chuck Cummins,
at our hotel room. Deb was so flustered in anticipation that she
locked herself out of the room, and the three of them were still
talking in the hallway 10 minutes later.
A planned brief get-together turned into an unforgettable three-hour
non-stop talkathon, careening off into every direction at once.
The same day, Sophia, a Gogishvili sister who'd moved with her
husband, Doug Hurst, to Nelson, in B.C.'s Kootenay region, phoned
Deb and the two had an intense conversation. Tamara called later,
and the roller-coaster of emotions was off again.
But of greater importance was the insight we were gaining into
the kind of people she was getting involved with the
kind of people Deb was a part of.
It would turn out to be the best part of the story.
- - -
For many people, a mother is as intimate a connection as can be,
and Deb felt immense relief that Inge had been immediately receptive,
warm and generous when the final chapter of her adoption story had
begun to unfold three months before they met face to face.
It was the barely believable culmination of a 23-year quest, an
off-and-on search for Deb's birth family ever since she and I had
met. Granted, it had been a mostly casual search, but never out
of mind, and periodically flaring up into a full-blown, focused
In general, I was more disposed than Deb to find her biological
antecedents, in the cuddly phrase of Canadian social services.
She alternated between enthusiasm and down-mode, not
wanting to make contact with people who obviously wanted nothing
to do with her, a classic ambivalent stance of adoptees.
Renamed Deborah Ann by her adoptive parents, George and Audrey
Nicholls, Deb feared the possible effects of a successful search
on her, our marriage, her adoptive parents, our kids, my family,
and her brother, also adopted and not related to her.
She had placed her name several times with government registries
in Ontario, a kind of bazaar that matches searching adoptees with
birth relatives willing to be contacted by them. None had come forward,
so she assumed none wanted to.
Deb had seen the TV stories and read the news accounts of adoptees
reuniting with their birth families after umpteen decades, which
always reduced her to melancholy for a spell. Great TV footage and
headlines, although clearly not her destiny.
But wouldnt it be incredible if we could just have one baby
picture of Deb?
The final leg of her truly odd journey was a flurry of extraordinary
ironies, coincidences, great good fortune, help from total strangers
and a few sad twists. The saddest by a long shot was the death of
her beloved father (adoptive, although to Deb he was and always
will be her dad, period) a few months before. He died on Dec. 20,
1998, the day he was to come to Montreal, his first Christmas stay
chez nous since his own beloved wife died in 1991.
A few years before her death, Audrey had inexplicably ceased speaking
to Deb. It was a total mystery that George explained as the result
of a personality change caused by her various medications
a highly dubious proposition since she remained close to Deb's brother,
I felt absolutely devastated and rejected a second time when
my mother stopped speaking to me, said Deb, final proof
of being undeserving of a mother's love.
Being cast aside again, this time as a reasoning adult, made for
a protracted period of pain and sadness that lifted when her relationship
with her dad, always loving, blossomed after Audrey's death.
Audrey had been a dutiful and conscientious mom to Deb. She and
George had done all the heavy lifting school lunches,
guitar and ballet lessons, vacations, birthday cakes, suffering
thuggish-looking boyfriends. They had provided a stable, orderly
and safe upbringing based on hard work, decent values and solid
character. Many adoptees are not so lucky.
But as a teenager, Deb's defiant and sometimes insulting, disrespectful
behaviour toward her parents a common enough adolescent
trait accentuated by that feeling of disconnectedness
keenly felt by most adoptees was met by Audreys
frequent rebukes about how she was glad youre not my
real daughter. Two worlds of hurt collided hard and often.
The two seemed later to have reconciled, but Debs childhood
had the effect of making her ultra-shy and reserved
identifying intimately with Anne of Green Gables. Author Lucy Maud
Montgomerys house was a compulsory visit during our P.E.I
The fear of risking all that pain a third time was a large part
of Debs ambivalence toward finding her birth family.
I also recall a (still) good friend of ours berating me loudly
during one of our on-mode periods, when the search was
a central part of our lives.
You're insane, he shouted. Youre both happy,
and this will only screw everything up for everyone, he insisted,
genuinely concerned and incredulous that Deb had filled out yet
more forms, made yet more calls to adoption-disclosure agencies
an Orwellian name, considering what they really are
and once again renewed contacts with the Children's
Aid Society of Hamilton-Wentworth Region, where she was registered.
I wondered what he would have said had he known that that very
afternoon in Hamilton, Id done the obvious thing, once again,
by looking in the phone book for that uncommon last name of Gogishvili.
This time, though, I actually dialed the phone, my heart racing.
I still have the piece of paper where Id written down three
or four numbers and called them one after the other.
No one answered, and I confess to feeling hugely relieved. Forcing
myself to call again an hour later, I got an answer at the second
number. A gruff male voice. I froze, standing there, mouth literally
I could think of only one thing: Screw up the next few words, buddy
boy, and you could blow your wifes chances for life. What
to say? Hi, Im married to someone I think you may have
given up for adoption 35 years ago. Howre you doing? Can we
come over? Oh, and listen, could we do a blood test?
I hung up and never did that again. It took a week to tell Deb
I'd even called.
I've since been told that its nearly impossible for an interested
party to make contact in such circumstances not to
say dangerous, verging on foolhardy. Such bridge-building contacts
are best left to professionals.
Finding Debs medical history took on some urgency just before
our daughter, Lisa Anne, was born on Dec. 31, 1981, followed by
Chris on Sept. 5, 1985.
Fairly complete medical records from my side of the family were
balanced by a complete blank on Debs side. The significance
of that void first became apparent when Deborah was pregnant with
Lisa: her RH negative blood, which can lead to complications and
for which she had to undergo a minor procedure, came as a total
surprise to her.
RH negative blood is easily detected in pregnant women and routinely
dealt with. But the episode served notice that heredity, previously
an abstract, remote concept for us, was a real and pressing issue:
What else is lurking out there for three out of four of us? How
significant could it be? When are we going to find out, and under
She knew basic things: her birth name, that part of her family
was Georgian my parents would unfailingly note that
Gogishvili was close to Dzhugashvili, Joseph Stalin's real name
and the date of adoption.
But even those tidbits in the file, it would turn out, were full
of errors, as would be subsequent tantalizing information
dispensed by Childrens Aid with an eye-drop every few years,
and only when insistently demanded. The standoff continued, with
the social-service agencies holding all the cards, never tipping
- - -
Late in 1998, we bought our first home computer, connecting to
the Internet shortly thereafter.
Almost mechanically, with zero expectations, and feeling propelled
by what she calls a strange hand, a sense of fatalism Id
never felt before, Deb, the Luddite of Luddites, found the
online Canadian Adoptees Registry, a volunteer organization
helping adoptees and birth relatives find each other, and Canadopt,
an unrelated self-help group and chat line.
There was no hesitation this time, no procrastination. I
sat down and filled out the form, almost in a trance, said
Deb, who detects a grand design behind all this.
Not wanting to be underhanded, but even more afraid he would be
hurt by it, she had told her father of her search a year earlier.
She had mentioned the constant pull in two opposite directions
that adoptees feel their entire lives. On one hand, the lucky ones
like Deb feel gratitude and love for having been plucked out of
bad, sometimes dire, situations by good people. On the other hand,
most adoptees can't shake their innate curiosity about their bloodlines.
Its tied up with your identity, your sense of self-worth,
Deb said. Even the most loving, caring, sensitive adoptive
parents cant answer a childs questions that never go
How come my real parents gave me away? Its
basically a kids worst nightmare, excluding violence. Kind
of like your family died but you continue to live in a new, revised
edition. Youre never sure of your place anymore after that.
Most kids sense the unease of their adoptive parents and feel hesitant
about bringing up the subject at all.
Deb had been told about her adoption at age 4 or 5, when kids register
little. The way shed really learned about it always seemed
vaguely callous; her 11-year-old brother was talking to a friend
on the phone and yelled, Is Debbie adopted, too? to
which their parents replied, Of course.
The two had found some papers in drawers, papers that should surely
have been locked away beyond the reach of youthful larceny.
Debs 9-year-old world didnt exactly unravel then. But
that day remains etched in her memory. That's when The Feeling took
hold for her: talk to most adoptees, and theyll mention the
pervasive feeling of disconnect permeating all aspects of their
All of a sudden, once you know you dont know anything about
yourself, you become a stranger in a strange land. The whole world
becomes a rather forbidding place meant for the in crowd
(everyone but you). Society may brand you illegitimate
(as do some current Alberta government documents). And your only
self-knowledge comes from bare-bones adoption documents engineered
to mislead and throw searchers off the scent, all in the name of
preserving the birth family's privacy.
The need for an accurate medical history for adoptees and their
children is often invoked as the impetus for their search for biological
parents, as it was for Deb. But it goes far beyond that. The old
saying about peering at strangers faces wondering if theyre
kin is indeed true, a constant conscious and subconscious need to
find earthly bonds that connect you to this life.
Most people take this for granted were familiar
with our parents faces, our siblings character traits
and family history and rarely give it a thought. For
adoptees, thats always a tightrope act, balancing their natural
need to find their roots against the hurt its bound to cause
the adoptive parents.
George Nicholls was, on the whole, supportive of Deb's quest. Hed
felt great and sudden loss himself, and said to us several times
matter-of-factly that if Id had my druthers, I would
have gone with Audrey when she died. I wish I had. He was
the opposite of a maudlin man and meant that literally. His abiding
love for his wife had been the focus of his life.
Yet he had found Kay a couple of years later, a terrific woman
also in her 70s who gave him a second shot at love and life.
He had sounded out Deb in various ways, wondering what she felt
about the whole thing was he being disloyal or unfatherly,
in some way? Deb gave her hearty approval, even before meeting Kay.
His tragedy did make it easier for George to grasp Debs search,
but she still sensed a certain uneasiness, even mystification, on
After registering online with Canadopt on April 29, 1999, Deb promptly
forgot about it. Routine replies from the Children's Aid Society
often took a year or more.
On May 3, four days later, she received an E-mail that started
Hi Deborah, I was wondering if you had any more info on your
birth mother? I would like to know her age, religion, and anything
else you can tell me, wrote Gail Hadley, the vice-president
of Canadian Adoptees Registry.
The next sentence knocked the wind out of Deb: I believe
I may have found the right family, but need more info to be sure.
Gail Hadley had indeed found the right family
on her own time, using her own wits and resources, with no fees
or strings attached, and despite an E-mail I shot back asking her
please not to toy with us.
Working solo, she had found the answer to Debs two-decade-old
quest in four days. Ninety-six hours.
It took a couple more months to verify the identity of the family.
At one point, Gail seemed to have dropped off the face of the Earth
and Debs worst fears seemed to be materializing: it had all
been too good and too easy to be true. But Gail had simply been
busy with other hopefuls.
She called Deb on July 14 with a simple message: Inges waiting
for your call.
An hour later, my wife picked me up at our summer pool club. As
soon as we got in the car, she said: I talked to my mother
Since her mother had died eight years earlier, I assumed she was
referring to another imaginary conversation shed had to try
to make sense of their relationship's bitter ending.
No, I mean Inge, she said.
The news was breathtaking.
Better still, Inge wanted to meet Deb. Six weeks later, in August,
she did, at Tim Hortons.
- - -
After that August visit, during which Deb had met Inge and her
middle daughter Mariam and her husband, as well as talked to two
other daughters, Tamara and Sophia, the five women kept in contact
via E-mail and phone calls.
Over the next few months, Mariam worked to arrange a reunion for
the end of January with anyone in the Gogishvili family willing
to meet Deb.
It was held five weeks ago.
When we checked into a Hamilton hotel on a Friday at 7:30 p.m.,
Deb was visibly nervous. She dumped most of her clothes from her
suitcase into drawers, an alarming departure from her usual near-obsessive
item-by-item unpacking, refolding and arranging.
Within a few minutes, she was on the phone to Inge, and it immediately
became obvious something was wrong. She was bent over double, cupping
the phone, repeating, Oh, no, Oh, my. Inge
had been to the doctor earlier that day. Something small and hard
had been found in her thigh just before Christmas. She wasnt
sure what it was, but the word cancer kept cropping up.
My first reaction was Oh, God, not again. This cant
be happening, said Deb. My (adoptive) mom had
died the day before I was to visit her at the cottage, after years
Then her dad died just before another planned visit. It seemed
a jinx. And Inge was no stranger to illness, having suffered an
aneurysm at 44 and various ailments since then.
But then I relaxed a bit. Mariam, Sophia and Tamara had all
mentioned her ongoing roller-coaster health problems. They said
that Inge always overcame physical challenges, and was incredibly
Deb was hoping Inge was dramatizing, a phenomenon not unknown in
her daughter. Inge, shed found out, was not above telling
small fibs, like saying shed started to smoke only 10 years
earlier. Her kids laughed, saying shed smoked all her life.
In an odd way, it made Deb feel good her mother was
concerned about how Deb saw her, and was trying to put her best
foot forward, an endearing, unwitting expression that she cared.
But this was no fib. Inge didnt make it to the reunion the
next night, having been unable to sleep.
Everyone else did.
On the drive to Mariams house, Deb had to breathe deeply
or she would have fainted.
As Mariam opened the door, Deb was seized with what can only be
called an otherworldly experience. Her brother George was visible
through the French door, and for a fleeting instant she actually
felt she was George looking at his newly found sister entering his
life. Just for a split second.
We'd had contacts with Charlie by E-mail, but not with the other
Gogishvili men, and Mariam wasnt clear on whether they would
be there. If they didn't want to meet us, we could find no reason
in the world to blame them.
All six Hamilton siblings came. It was a magical evening.
In the midst of all this, Sophia called from B.C., making it a
Chuck and Mariam showed us through their picture-perfect home,
and talk centred on photos on their den wall. It turned out Mariam
had been a classmate of Hugh Reid, the minister at Ryerson United
Church, the longtime church of George and Audrey Nicholls. We were
well acquainted with Reid, since he had officiated at Debs
father's 80th birthday party in June 1997, and at his funeral 14
George Gogishvili was quiet that evening, battling a cold, but
Deb was thankful he had made the effort to come.
Michael, who she had thought was the most reluctant, was the most
emotional, a tough nut like his father on the outside but described
by one of his sisters as a real sweet guy, a total mushball
The next morning after brunch, he cried and hugged Deb, and called
her that night in Montreal to repeat his words of welcome to the
Tamara quipped to Deb that I could really have used your
help with the cooking and cleaning 35 years ago. Although
said in jest, it underscored the hard work she, especially, as the
eldest daughter, had had to put in to help her working mother run
Not for the first time, Deb felt that she might well have borne
the brunt of Dimitris explosive temper had he and Inge kept
her, and that she had been lucky to have been picked by George and
Then Mariam and Tamara handed Deb a treasure: an original red-and-white
1950s Bell-Tone photo-folder with three pictures. They were all
of 4-month-old Nina Leila in the summer of 1953, with Inge, George
They were immediately set aside for safekeeping. But Deb had no
intention of looking at them that night anyway. The emotion would
have brought the rollicking evening to an abrupt halt.
She felt a real and profound elation but was in danger of becoming
overwhelmed. She needed to get away to tally up the revelations,
gossip, inside scoops, family lore, and the sheer volume of information
and insight she'd taken in over the past four hours.
It was ironic that after all the searching, we were finally there,
in the middle of The Reunion, and at that moment needed to get away
for a while.
My God, Deb said as we left the house. What have
I done right in my life to have earned this?
We repaired to a restaurant, and basked in the profoundly satisfying
experience of recounting and analyzing the events. Our conversation
eventually dwindled to long silences, punctuated by occasional observations.
Deb drifted off to sleep that night literally with a smile on her
These were our kind of relatives: children-loving, hard-working,
broad-minded, unpretentious, articulate, sensitive, caring people.
But the most attractive thing about them collectively, by far,
was their words of inclusion their conviction that
Deb had been shortchanged somehow, and that they had been robbed
of a sister.
Crying on the phone from B.C., Sophia had said to Deb: I
cant help thinking you should have been there all these years.
Youre our sister. Youre family.
Thats still making Deb jelly-kneed. The only girl in her
family for her whole life now loves nothing better than starting
a conversation with I was talking to my sister just now, and
- - -
Deb had been bowled over during her first visit in August when
Mariam told her of a plot she, Sophia and Tamara had hatched at
dinner one night at a Hamilton restaurant. They'd decided to hire
a private investigator to find this Nina theyd all heard about.
It was the exact time, we worked out later, that Deb registered
with Canadopt and CAR.
It turned out Debs existence had become an open secret in
the family after Mariam visited Germany in the 1970s and saw a picture
of her mother holding an unidentified and unaccounted-for kid. Being
the inquisitive sort, she pestered everyone about the identity of
the mystery baby, and asked pointed questions on her return home.
Dimitris equally pointed answer: the kid had died.
But Inge told a couple of the children the truth, and references
to Nina became commonplace in Dimitri's
Such discoveries can turn to disaster, upsetting offsprings
sense of familial order, not to mention the distasteful discovery
that their mother actually had a sex life. In fact, Inge had given
birth to another daughter, Elke, in Hamburg before her marriage
to Dimitri. Dimitri had embraced Elke as his own, but she had grown
up with Inges parents in Germany.
A reunion in Canada in the 1970s with Elke had turned sour for
most of the siblings, who vividly remember her vocal bitterness
at having been left behind when Inge and Dimitri emigrated. There
was a good reason for that, said Inge.
Dimitri was a Soviet citizen, captured by the Germans and held
in a prisoner-of-war camp for at least two years. Knowing that his
years as a PoW in Germany on behalf of Mother Russia stood him a
good chance of being shot by the Stalinist regime if he returned
to his native Georgia, he elected to emigrate to Canada with Inge
But he had renounced his Soviet citizenship, like many in his situation,
and had become in effect stateless. German authorities, Inge explained,
refused to allow a stateless person to emigrate with a German citizen
Elke who was not his child.
With all this turmoil in their past, there was no overarching moral
reason for Inge and Dimitri's children to adopt Deb back. But they
One sensitive topic still loomed large, at least for me: the Nazi
Just before meeting Inge for the first time, Id mentioned
my vague discomfort casually to Deb, earning a stinging rebuke.
But it would have been pointless to ignore the topic, like the proverbial
elephant in the middle of the room everyone pretends is not there.
Inge told us that her two brothers, Willi and Ludwig Lembcke, had
both served in the German army during World War II. It would be
criminal, of course, to visit the sins of the father upon the children.
But I must confess it gave me a chill to think my wifes uncles,
removed though they might be, were Nazi soldiers.
Thankfully, they were regular army conscripts in the Wehrmacht,
rather than Waffen SS, Gestapo or other special unit
troops. The regular German army did some wretched things too, but
at least its mandate for the most part was to do what all armies
do kill the opposing army or be killed by them.
The brothers had both fought in Russia and were killed within a
week of each other Willi on April 12, 1944, and Ludwig
on April 19, Debs birthday.
Inges father, a Hamburg train postmaster whom Charlie had
known as a toddler, was a nasty piece of work, a real Nazi,
Inge, predictably, remembers her father differently: He was
a good father. I loved him.
On three separate occasions, she recalled going nearly mad with
grief at being told at 17 years of age that both her brothers had
been killed. Their pictures hang in her new bedroom.
But we thought it reflected rather well on Inge and her independence
of spirit that she would have married a Soviet PoW, a citizen of
the country that had killed her two brothers. Her father never forgave
her for it, according to Charlie. Inge laughed that off, though.
The returning German soldiers just werent my type,
She met the recently released Dimitri in a movie lineup in Hamburg
in 1947 and fell in love.
But even in the New World, he lived in the old order. Like many
PoWs, he spent much of the rest of his life traumatized, feeling
guilty about surviving and making sure his family
knew it and felt it.
Strange as it may sound after all our discoveries, it seems too
easy to paint a totally black portrait of Dimitri. Who can walk
a mile in the shoes of someone raised in the Kafkaesque, bloodthirsty
era of Stalin?
- - -
The morning after the big reunion, visiting Inge at her new flat,
Deb got her first and only glimpse of a sleeping Dimitri, knocked
out cold by his medicine.
It was the most meaningful, beautiful visit yet. All of her life,
Deb has imagined being told she was loved, wanted and valued by
Inge, more relaxed than on previous occasions, did just that without
being prodded, and added details vividly etched in her memory.
Unable to sit still, she re-enacted the scene when Deb was given
away to her first foster home, stretching out her arms and crying
real tears to describe how the terrified 10-month-old had tried
to cling to her mother.
Inge was subsequently ordered by the foster family to stop visiting,
which was understandably upsetting to Deb and the
After at least one more foster home, she was taken in by the Nichollses.
Now, 45 years later, Inge was saying things that, after the hurt
of having been a human bundle peddled from one place to the next,
were balm to Debs soul: how she had never stopped loving or
thinking of Deb; how her other daughters understood why she started
weeping days before April 19 every year Deb's birthday
and the date of one brothers death; how shed wondered
about all aspects of Deb's life school marks, health,
friends, hobbies, but especially hoping her adoptive parents were
good to her.
Deb responded as she had before to Inge: it is her profound conviction
that Inge had been called upon to be the strong one, that she had
made the right decision for everyone her other children,
her marriage, and Deb and had been the glue keeping
a fractious couple together for the sake of her children.
Destiny, or call.