Thursday 22 February 2018

Oh brother, how art thou after 50 years?

Fiona Ellis

EVEN for a theatre, this was dramatic.

An emotional reunion took centre stage when Dubliner John Carr (61) finally met his long-lost sister after more than 50 years apart.

He was on stage at the Grand Canal Theatre singing Leonard Cohen's 'Song for Bernadette' when it was revealed to him his sister -- also Bernadette -- was backstage.

In front of an audience of 2,500 at the Dublin venue, the siblings met for the first time.

Mr Carr and Bernadette Volkmann only found out about each other's existence six months ago after being separated for more than half a century.

They spoke on the phone for the first time in October and were anxious to meet, despite living on different continents.

RTE Radio 1's 'Mooney Show' flew Mrs Volkmann and her husband Bradley from their home in Tampa, Florida, to surprise Mr Carr.

"I'm speechless. This has been unbelievable, this whole experience. I didn't know I had a brother until a few weeks ago," she said.

"Shocked, shocked, shocked -- words can't explain it," her brother said.

Mr Carr is the older of the pair and was in foster care from birth and adopted at five.

"I always wondered was anyone out there," he said.

"I had my name in the mix for quite a few years and what it needed was someone to stir it up from the other side.

"Bernadette started making enquiries and everything materialised then," he added.

Mrs Volkmann was adopted by an American family when she was one.

"I didn't feel like there was something missing but I wanted to find out if there was anyone out there," she said. "It's indescribable, the whole thing has been so surreal, I don't think it's hit us.

"The process is a whole lot of emotions and you feel like you've been through the ringer in a good way," she added.


The pair hope their reunion will inspire other adopted children to find their families.

"I hope this will encourage other people to go ahead and go forth because you never know what you find, it you don't risk anything you don't gain anything," said Mrs Volkmann.

"It's wonderful, anyone who is out there in my position, you could have a brother or sister, you could have a gang of them out there.

"It would be a shame to lose years," Mr Carr said.

Mrs Volkmann is going home tomorrow but her brother will visit her in the US following Sunday's reunion.

Now that he has found his sister -- a word he loves to say -- he won't be letting go.

"I'm a family person. Life is based around family; if you haven't got a family, you haven't got anything," he said.

Irish Independent

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