Emotional reunion between Chemainus woman and her brother after more than 63 years


WATCH: A Chemainus woman’s search for her baby brother finally ended last month in Smith Falls, Ont. In 1955, Diane Raphael’s family split apart, leaving her and her sister in foster care and their 22-month old brother adopted. As Mary Griffin reports, Raphael’s unrelenting search resulted in a reunion of more than 63 years in the making.

Chemainus resident Diane Raphael was looking through family photos taken more than 60 years ago on Wednesday.

“Marlene is the oldest. Myself and then Donnie. And then Elaine,” Raphael said.

But she lost touch when Donnie when he was very young.

“When he was 22 months, the family separated and that was the last time I ever saw him. He was 22 months,” Raphael said.

In 1955, the Smith Falls, Ont. family was torn apart by alcohol. Children’s aid seized Raphael and her older sister placing them in foster care.

“I was there seven years. It was pretty bad,” Raphael said.

Raphael never knew that a local family adopted Donnie and another boy. But she always wanted to find him. After more than 40 years of searching for Donnie, and hitting brick walls at every turn, Raphael’s daughter suggested posting a video on Facebook.  It took eight days before she saw a post that would bring her to her brother.

Donnie, whose adoptive parents named him Barry Trafford, saw the video after a cousin realized it was about him. Now 65, Trafford knew he had to see his family.

“After my adoptive mom and dad passed away, and my brother, he died at 19. There was always an emptiness, you know,” Trafford said.

In March, Diane and her family travelled to Ontario for a reunion 63 years in the making.

“Certainly a family resemblance” “It’s the smile!”

The connection between siblings immediate was immediate and they noticed they had the same smiles. Trafford said he told his sisters he loved them.

“I said, hi, first. Hi, I’m your brother. Then we hugged each other,” Trafford said.

The reunion not only brought them back their brother but united the sisters after years of estrangement. Raphael could not be happier.

“It was amazing,” Raphael said.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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