Families are torn apart by war, which is a terrible, awful thing. Consider how many moms, fathers, daughters, sons, and other family members had to say farewell for their own safety throughout any fight in history. When circumstances make it impossible to raise a child, mothers may give their babies up for adoption.
One such mother was Gerda Cole. In 1942, the Jewish mom was compelled to give up her daughter for adoption due to the terrible circumstances of World War II.
A German couple residing in England adopted the little girl, who had no idea who her biological mother was. Gerda was only 18 years old at the time. It’s difficult enough to be a young mother. Consider what it would be like to be one during a world war.
Sonya Grist, the tiny girl, spent the remainder of her life with her adopted parents.
She would then give birth to Stephen Grist, who would play a pivotal role in the rest of the story.
As a result, another Jewish family’s life was turned upside down by the Nazis. At the very least, they were both safe this time.
Stephen would unintentionally run into Gerda again 80 years later.
Although it was not a world war, Stephen’s family was affected by Brexit and COVID.
The story’s next chapter would take place when Stephen applied for Austrian citizenship. The Austrian government would reward anyone who could prove that their relatives left Austria in the 1930s. At the time, Stephen’s maternal grandparents (of which Gerda was one) were Austrian nationals.
Stephen, not wanting to miss out on the opportunity, began exploring as many ancestry websites as he could. He discovered some of the answers he was seeking there, as well as those he hadn’t expected to find.
He became acquainted with the stepson of his grandma.
He claimed that he was applying for Austrian citizenship and needed Gerda’s death certificate in order to finish the application procedure.
To say the least, the response he received was astounding. “You won’t find Gerda’s death certificate since she’s still alive and living in a nursing home in Canada,” says the narrator. Wow!
They couldn’t just sit there with this information, after all. Sonya’s mother had survived! And it’s past time they paid her a visit. For the love of God, it’s been 80 years! In CBC’s broadcast of the tale, Sonya stated, “I want to fly on a flight to Canada right now and give her a big embrace.”
“I still don’t know much, and I’ve got a million questions for her.” – Sonya stated
“The fact that her mother was still alive and that she would have the opportunity to meet her threw us all for a loop.” – Stephen continued, ”
On her birthday, Saturday, May 7th, the reunion took place. The gathering served as both a birthday and a reunion. For both mother and daughter, it was a watershed moment.
“I had a very limited personal education, and this, combined with the fact that I was in the middle of a conflict, left me with little choice than to have my daughter Sonya adopted on the advice of the refugee committee.” – Reading from a piece of paper, Gerda stated.
However, it was owing to her grandson that she was able to see the daughter she never had the opportunity to raise. And they were able to enjoy their first few memories and smiles together. Gerda maybe 98 years old now, but it’s better late than never, right?
Their first day together as mother and daughter revealed that they had a passion for music. Sonya was even a member of a steel band when she was younger, though she claims she wasn’t very good.
Check out the footage of their reunion below: