Wartime Love Child Reunited with Brothers After 22 Years in Institution
Wayne Colban was dramatically ushered into life as a result of a forbidden war time romance. When Mister Colban Senior returned from the battlefields of Europe, there was one more baby in the family than there should have been.
Quietly, Wayne was sent to live in foster care at the tender age of 5 years old and was eventually institutionalized at the Mitchener Centre in Red Deer, Alberta.
“I can put it this way, it was really bad,” said Colban. “For punishment … you heard of straightjackets? That’s what we were in because staff were pushing us. That’s what they did. They got a place called the quiet room and they locked us up in there.” – CBC News
The life Colban lead in the Michener Center is a familiar story. He escaped three times, taking every opportunity to find his family by finding phone books and calling any “Colban” listed in them. He was forced to be sterilized. And he was lonely, very, very lonely. He never received a visitor or any mail for the 22 years he lived there.
Colban’s path crossed that of a man named Adamchick. They became friends. Together they combed through birth certificates, military papers and obituaries to find his family; four surviving half-brothers.
“I feel just like I’m on top of the world actually. I’m happy for once – 100 per cent,” said Colban. “I always say to people, the best present I ever had is my brothers getting together.” – CBC News
Wayne Colban’s story is iconic and typical of his generation. What makes his story unusual? That he’s found human connection.
In my mind, battling loneliness and isolation is the number one evil facing people with disabilities. What we do in supports can only go so far, a true full life is filled with family and friends.
Many people, particularly those raised in an earlier era, had parents who were encouraged by health professionals of the time to ‘do what was right’ and give children up to the state. This was the most up-to-date medical knowledge of the time. As a result, broken family connections are not unusual for people with disabilities.
When we advocate on behalf of the people we support, we are also educating the public to their story. It’s a familiar one to us, but we must continue to share stories like Colban’s. Because sadly, his is far from unusual.
Today, I’m glad to celebrate Wayne’s joy. Family, love, and belonging are for all of us.
“It means something very, very deep to Wayne to finally know who he is,” Adamchick said. “One of the happiest days of his life after all the phone calls and everything else, one of his nieces sent him a Christmas card –the first one he received from family.”– CBC News
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