Brothers reunited 57 years after baby was taken from family

2013-01-21 00:00

BETHLEHEM —The wish of a mother, who cried so hard when her fifth child was taken from her by welfare that it made a life-long impression on his toddler brother, has finally been honoured.

After 57 years of living very different lives, Durbanite Gordon Comley (57), who was adopted as a two-day-old baby, cried freely as he hugged his his older brother, Koos du Preez (60) from Bloemfontein.

They were reunited in Bethlehem, where Comley, who now lives in Durban, grew up until he was seven.

Since Du Preez managed to track down Comley in December, the two have been talking for hours over the phone.

Comley was taken away for adoption two days after his birth. Du Preez, who was only three at the time, still remembers how his mother cried when his baby brother was taken from their home in Steynsrus.

He explained their father did not have a job, and because they already had him and three sisters, the welfare authorities removed Comley for adoption.

Du Preez said he never gave up hope and kept up the search for his brother despite many obstacles.

He finally found him through Face­book and a social worker.

Comley said: “It feels like a dream world. Like a dream from which I am not waking.”

He said he developed a feeling that he had been adopted after his marriage in 1986, which left him “feeling very sad”.

But he dismissed the feelings, thinking that his family would have told him if he was adopted.

After Comley got the first call from his brother in December, he called his sister, Elmarie Greffrath, and told her of the news.

She confirmed he had been adopted, but said she was forbidden to speak to him about it.

Comley’s wife, Zelda, said they would never have known if Du Preez had not found him.

The brothers’ respective families met in Bethlehem on Saturday. Comley hugged his brother for a long time. “It was emotional. You can think for yourself: two strangers who have a 57-year link,” said André, Du Preez’s son, about the meeting between his father and his uncle.

Du Preez’s wife, Christine, said it had been the dream of her in-laws that their four siblings would meet their brother who was taken away for adoption.

Comley next looks forward to meeting his sisters also at a family reunion in Bloemfontein. They are Edna de Beer, Sarie van Rensburg and Adri de Beer.

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