“Finding My Mother” One Man’s Adoption Journey
ITHIRTY YEARS after being adopted by an Australian family and raised in Melbourne, Joel de Carteret went back to the Philippines, the country of his birth. He was on a seemingly impossible quest – to find his birth mother.
Although he didn’t know his mother’s name, or even remember what she looked like, he was determined to find her. He had spent a month in the Philippines tirelessly – and unsuccessfully – searching for clues about his mother’s identity.
Friends and family in Australia had told him there was little chance of locating her after all these years. Many, especially his Australian adoptive mother, Julie de Carteret, worried about him, explaining, “You’ll just get your heart broken.”
However, the idea of reuniting with his Filipino mother had gnawed at Joel for decades. “I have to do this,” he often said. “I owe it to myself and to my biological mother. I must have broken her heart by getting lost.” Privately, he also felt that he needed to find his birth mother to discover a part of him “that had been missing for all these years”. But Julie tried to dissuade him.
While in a Sydney restaurant, Joel had told her he planned to visit the Philippines to find his birth mother and she said: “But Joel, you don’t know your mother’s name, your birth date, or where you lived. You didn’t even know your name when you arrived at the orphanage.”
Joel understood from documents that the orphanage gave him his name. Julie continued: “You also don’t know where your mother may be. Is she alive? How will you ever find her?”
don’t believe it! It can’t be! Joel de Carteret said to himself when a market seller in Manila’s bustling Munoz Market brought him the incredible news. Joel felt his heart pounding like a drum as beads of perspiration ran down his forehead. The 35 year old listened to the stallholder give him the information he had been searching for: “I think I know who your mother is. And where she is.” From that moment on, Joel realised, his life would never be the same.
“BUT JOEL,YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR MOTHER’S NAME,” JULIE SAID. “YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR BIRTH DATE”
Julie blinked back a tear and felt her heart break when Joel told her, “I know, Mum. But I have to try.”
Julie persisted, hoping to save Joel from a broken heart. She leaned across the table and asked, “How will you feel if you don’t find her? Will you be able to move on if you don’t find anything?”
Joel paused, took a bite of his salad and looked Julie in the eyes. “I know what you’re saying, Mum, and I understand. But I have to do this. I have to find out who I am and where I came from.”
A few weeks later Joel called Julie while he was waiting for his flight to Manila. “I’m off, Mum,” he said. “Wish me luck.” Julie held back her tears and said, “I love you, Joel. Good luck.” But she had little hope he would find his birth mother.
After years of wondering about, and weeks of desperate searching for, a woman he could barely remember, in a country where he couldn’t speak the language, he was sure he had somehow found that needle in the haystack. Thanks to a well-meaning stranger, he was about to be reunited with his long-lost birth mother.
THREE DECADES EARLIER, on the morning of July 25, 1985, Linda Rio looked in on her five-year-old son and watched as he slept soundly in their modest home in Quezon City on the outskirts of Manila. I’ll let him sleep, she thought as she watched his tiny chest rise and fall. The single mother gathered her handbag and set out to her job as a dressmaker at a nearby clothing factory, leaving her son in the company of a flatmate.
An hour later he awoke, jumped out of bed and began looking for ‘Ma’. He searched through the house and when he couldn’t find her, began panicking. This was unlike her; they travelled together daily to her workplace, taking the colourful public transport vehicles known as jeepneys.
When he realised she was gone, he darted out into the street to find her. Dodging strangers, stray dogs, jeepneys and delivery trucks that filled the busy street, he looked everywhere for her. But she was nowhere to be found. His eyes filled with tears as he wandered the busy back streets of Quezon City. “Ma!” he said to himself. “Where are you?”
Eventual ly, he arrived at the sprawl ing, jam- packed Munoz Market, where he walked along aisles crowded with hundreds of vendors hawking everything from just-slaughtered chickens to freshly caught fish, to trussed-up, squealing piglets. The chaotic sights and sounds – the huge, flashing knives chopping up food and customers shouting out requests to vendors, as well as the pungent, often sickly-sweet aroma of the food on sale – assaulted his senses.
He began to cry as he walked aimlessly through the crowded aisles in his thongs, shorts and singlet, hoping to catch sight of his mother. After hours of searching and penetrating deeper and deeper into the mazelike market with no sign of Linda, the tiny, shy five year old realised she was gone and, frighteningly, knew he was now lost as well.
A local jeepney driver named Jose Manselo spotted the boy crying and curled up in a ball near the back of the cavernous market. He instantly knew something was wrong, but the child was too terrified to say more than that he was lost. Manselo took him to his home and then to the police station. But the most the terrified five year old could tell the police was Ma was a dressmaker and Papa was a jeepney driver.
Meanwhile, Linda returned home for lunch and was shocked to find that her son was missing. She looked around the neighbourhood and even rushed back to the clothing factory, thinking he might have gone there to find her. But no one had seen him. She and several friends searched everywhere for him and she eventually left work to look for her son full time. She even went on local radio stations, pleading with listeners to help find him. But no one had seen the five year old.
Weeks, then months, passed without news. It was as if he had vanished.
THEY ARE AS TALL AS TREES. They look like white ghosts, thought Joel, as he looked up at the towering – and very white – figures of George and Julie de Carteret at Manila’s RSCC orphanage, which he had entered some 18 months earlier. And they smell funny, he thought.
The Australian couple had come to the Philippine orphanage to meet Joel because they were interested in adopting. Julie had not been able to become pregnant, but she and George had been desperate to start a family.
Joel had been too young to know his mother’s name and, because no one had come forward to claim him, had been declared a ‘foundling’ – an ‘unknown child’ – and was severely malnourished. Then, after social workers exhausted every method they knew to find his parents, he was eventually declared ‘abandoned’. He was now eligible for adoption.
At first he cowered behind the orphanage’s social worker but soon came to feel at ease with both George and Julie. They had such kind eyes and their warm, soothing voices relaxed him. When a social worker asked Joel if he wanted to go to Australia, he immediately nodded his head ‘ yes’. After a year-and-a-half of loneliness he once again had a home and new, loving – and very tall – parents.
Once settled into his new Melbourne home, Joel f lourished. Although he couldn’t speak a word of English he became fast friends with the children on his street, loved playing cricket, and learned English by watching television. Often Julie would marvel as she watched him listening to a popular nightly quiz show, repeating many of the random words he heard the TV host say.
In his first year of school he would stubbornly stumble through his ‘show and tell’ talks, bravely searching his memory for just the right word as his classmates looked on. His teacher once told Julie, “Joel is one very, very determined little boy!”
Julie and George were thrilled with the way Joel adapted to his new home and the Australian way of life, which was so very different from his hard-scrabble existence in the Philippines. Nevertheless, there were hints that something was brewing beneath his smiling exterior. One day, about six months after coming to Australia, Joel asked Julie, “When am I going to turn white?” She discovered he had expected his skin to ‘magically’ turn white after living in Australia awhile.
Another time, when he was ten years old, he walked into the kitchen as Julie was cooking dinner and asked, “So, when are we going to find my Mum?” Julie was startled but sat Joel down and told him gently that, as much as she wished it weren’t so, neither she nor the Manila adoption agency knew Joel’s surname, his mother’s or where she lived.
“I’m sorry, love,” she told him as she held his hands in hers. “But there’s no chance we could ever find your mother. I wish we could but it’s
IN HIS FIRST YEAR OF SCHOOL, HIS TEACHER TOLD JULIE, “JOEL IS ONE VERY, VERY DETERMINED LITTLE BOY”
just not possible. But I can tell you this; she loved you very much.”
LINDA HAD NEVER given up looking for her son. However, her visits to the barangay (local government office), the police, her announcements on Manila radio stations, her constant searching, had turned up nothing. She even handed out flyers printed with Joel’s picture that said, ‘Missing Boy’ and included her address as well as the contacts for the barangay. Nothing.
Wherever she went, she scanned the faces of children, wondering if one of them might be her long lost son. His birthdays were especially hard. Each year Linda would invite family and friends to celebrate his birthday and pray for him while they dined on the dish he loved so much; roast pig and Chinese noodles. Every birthday included laughter and tears. “Wherever he is,” she told her sister on one of Joel’s birthdays, “I know he is in a good place.”
She hung his picture on her wardrobe door so it would be the first thing she saw every morning when she awoke. Linda also kept his bicycle at the clothing factory and thought of him every time she saw it leaning against the wall. He had loved riding it around while she worked, and as she once told a colleague, “I’m waiting for the day he comes back to ride it again.”
THROUGHOUT HIS YEARS in Australia, Joel often thought of his birth mother and wondered what had happened so many years ago. He remembered her loving smile and the way she would wipe away his tears with her ever-present handkerchief when he cried. Then darker thoughts would bubble up. He sometimes wondered if he had been abandoned and once told a friend, “What if my mother wanted nothing to do with me and had left me at the orphanage?”
In 2000 Julie took him, then 18, and his sister, Grace, born to Julie and George af ter they adopted Joel, to the Philippines, where they toured the country and visited the
orphanage Joel had lived in some 16 years earlier.
While he was excited– and moved to tears – to revisit his former home, he was dismayed to find that social workers there knew nothing about his parents or where he may have lived. Joel wanted to revisit the Munoz Market, where he had been found by jeepney driver Manselo, but Julie felt it was a high crime area and much too dangerous to visit. Joel fought back, but Julie put her foot down, telling him again, “It’s just not safe, Joel!”
However, the three of them pored over the telephone directory, looking for any ‘Manselo’ listing. There was nothing. After they searched the directory Julie told Joel, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know where else we could look.” She saw how disappointed Joel was but thought to herself, maybe now he will realise how difficult, how fruitless, it would be to keep looking for his birth mother.
But this first-time visit to his home country was also very moving for Joel. Surrounded by people who looked like him, he told Julie during their trip, “For the first time in my life, I really feel I fit in somewhere. Everyone looks like me.” His eyes filled with tears and he felt a catch in his throat but continued, “Mum, I’m not an outsider here.”
It was a visit to a Thailand orphanage in 2015 that helped convince Joel, by then an accomplished, 34-year-old documentary film maker, to search for his biological mother. While he was filming the orphanage for an Australian-based charity, a small boy walked up to him and grabbed his hand. He seemed to be about five or six, the same age Joel was when he entered the Manila orphanage. The Thai boy tugged at Joel’s hand and led him into the dormitory to proudly show him the bed he slept in.
As the tousled- haired orphan showed Joel the few toys he owned, memories came flooding back. I slept in a bed like this, Joel thought as he listened to the boy chattering away. We both lost our parents. I wonder...
On the flight back to Australia he couldn’t get the memory of the little Thai orphan out of his mind. As he would admit later, “I suddenly realised I needed the answer to so many questions. Who was I? Where did I come from? Who am I? I knew what I had to do.”
ON A MILD DECEMBER morning in 2016, Joel visited the Munoz Market, the very same market he was lost in
“FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I REALLY FEEL I FIT IN SOMEWHERE,” JOEL TOLD JULIE. “EVERYONE LOOKS LIKE ME”
– and rescued from – some 30 years ago. He’d returned to the Philippines with a film crew, a translator and a dream. He’d come to find his birth mother.
As he walked through the chaotic collection of food and merchandise vendors, he and his translator showed a picture of Joel as a five year old to as many people as possible, asking, “Lost Boy? Do you know anyone who lost a five-year-old boy in 1985? Missing boy?”
Everyone shook their heads and turned away.
Joel kept in touch with Julie, reassuring her that Munoz Market was safe and that, just as importantly, he felt that he fitted in.
“I may not speak the language, Mum, but at least I look like everyone else here. And everyone is trying to help me. So don’t worry about me.”
Julie was relieved that he was safe and sound and was happy that Joel was forming a bond with the country he was born in. “Be safe,” she said.
Joel plastered the f lyers with his picture and the headline, “Do You Know Him?” in English and Tagalog and a local contact telephone number, everywhere. Hoping to enlist the aid of Manila-based radio or TV stations, Joel knocked on doors to tell his story but was rebuffed. “There are so many missing children and so many stories,” he heard time and time again from media outlets. “Sorry, but we wish you luck.”
Undaunted, Joel and his team kept going back to the market, questioning countless stallholders, seeking out anyone who may have been working at Munoz Market decades ago. After days of negative responses and false leads, Joel and his team suddenly heard about a vendor who had worked at the market for years. Joel called Julie: “Mum, this might be the break I’ve been hoping for!”
They tracked down the man, Badan Pisngot, who confirmed that he had sold household wares at his modest stall at the market since the 1980s. Joel handed him the flyer he had shown to so many other people and his translator asked if he knew anything about the boy in the picture. “No,” he replied as he shook his head. “I don’t recognise the boy.” But Joel urged his translator to keep questioning the man.
Eventually, after some more skilful prodding, Pisngot remembered, “But ... there was a woman who lived around here and lost her son in the 1980s. He was about five or six, I think.” Joel began shaking as
“THERE WAS A WOMAN WHO LIVED HERE AND LOST HER SON IN THE ’80s,” SAID THE VENDOR. “HE WAS ABOUT FIVE OR SIX”
he heard the news. But the grey-haired Pisngot seemed reluctant to reveal any more and returned to rearranging his stall’s pots and pans and plastic buckets. His translator advised Joel to back off, afraid of alienating Pisngot.
After a number of visits from Joel over the next two weeks, Pisngot dropped the bombshell: “I think I know who your mother is ... Her name is Vicky.” That evening, Joel called Julie in Melbourne, “This could be it. I think I’ve found her!”
When Joel met Vicky the next day, she was wary until Joel showed her a picture of him and 12 other little boys taken at the orphanage in 1985. Vicky instantaneously pointed to Joel in the picture and broke down, sobbing and crying. “That’s Dante! That’s my Dante!” she wailed. Joel wrapped his arms around her, and mother and son held each other tightly as their tears flowed. “Dante,” she murmured through her tears, “My Dante.”
She was convinced that Joel was her missing son, Dante, whom she lost near the Munoz Market so long ago. She wiped her tears away and, pointing to her nose, then to Joel’s, laughed and said, “Same. Same!”
JOEL WAS ON an emotional roller coaster. Against all odds he had located his biological mother and for the first time in his life he was on the road to answering the question that had nagged him for so long: “Where did I come from?”
He called Julie and told her the good news: “I think I’ve found her!” Initially speechless, Julie laughed and said, “If I had known it was going to be this easy, I would have gone back with you years ago!”
“Mum, I needed to do this myself,” he said.
Remembering how determined Joel had always been, Julie answered, “I know, Joel. I am so proud of you.”
Then, a question arose. During their first meeting, Vicky mentioned that Dante was born in 1983 and disappeared some six years later. Joel
was stumped. He was born in 1980 and, according to the orphanage’s records, went missing in 1985. Could Vicky have her dates wrong? He told himself that nailing down dates in the Philippines could be tricky, and she could easily be mistaken. Besides, Vicky looked so much like him. However, even though Joel had become so confident that he had finally located his birth mother, he needed to be 100 per cent certain. He asked her to take a DNA test.
WEEKS LATER the DNA results from a laboratory in Japan arrived. Joel nervously opened the report and quickly scanned to the bottom of the first page. It read: “Probability of relationship, zero per cent.” Vicky was not Joel’s biological mother. The harsh reality hit Joel and Vicky hard. As he would later explain, “I wanted so much to believe. I was crushed.”
So was Vicky. She collapsed into his arms when she heard the results. He lovingly stroked her hair and decided on the spot to continue his search. Indeed, having come so close, he was more determined than ever to keep searching for his mother. “I need to keep going.”
He called Julie with the news, telling her simply “It’s negative.” She was devastated for Joel. She had long feared that he was going to get his heart broken trying to find his biological mother and wanted to urge him to come back home. But she knew better. Joel had always been persistent, ever since he had been that little five-yearold boy struggling to learn English. She knew he would not give up his search this easily.
After Joel called her – even though she knew what he would say – she asked him, “Well, what happens now, Joel?”
Without skipping a beat, Joel replied, “You know, I have to get out there and start looking all over again.”
“I knew you’d say that.”
ALTHOUGH JOEL HAD BEEN turned down many times by media outlets in the Philippines, once producers at one of the largest radio and TV networks in the nation, GMA Network, heard that he might be close to locating his birth mother, they began to cover his story. Joel was invited to talk about his search on radio. A film crew from ‘ Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’, starring the Philippines’ equivalent of the US’s Oprah Winfrey, began working on a three-part TV documentary after they learned that Joel
THE HARSH REALITY HIT JOEL AND VICKY HARD. AS HE WOULD LATER EXPLAIN, “I WANTED SO MUCH TO BELIEVE. I WAS CRUSHED”
had located Vicky. It was titled ‘JoJo’s Search’, using a common local nickname.
The media coverage had come just in time. Joel and his own team had left no stone unturned at the Munoz Market and the surrounding neighbourhood, but after Vicky’s DNA test had come back negative, they were anxious to have a wider, national platform to tell Joel’s story.
Joel jumped at the chance to tell his story. He cooperated with Jessica Soho’s team, offering them some of the documentary footage his own film team had shot since his arrival in the Philippines. He appeared on a popular drive-time radio show hosted by GMA’s vice president Mike Enriquez and talked about his quest to find his biological mother. Joel’s hope was that someone listening to his radio interviews or watching Soho’s multi-part TV documentary could help. Someone was watching. Amazingly, Linda, who still celebrated her son’s birthday every year and never stopped praying that he would be safe, watched the first part of the three-part documentary on Joel’s search as she sat in her Quezon City home. She was intrigued by the story of the lost boy but she also found it painful; it brought back so many memories of her own loss.
When she saw that the young English-speaking man in the documentary, who seemed to be around the same age as her long-missing son, had found his birth mother, she quickly turned off her TV. Later she would confess, “I was so jealous and sad at the same time. I couldn’t watch any more. That mother had found her son but mine was gone.” She never learned that Vicky’s DNA test turned out to be negative and that Joel was still looking for his mother.
THE GMA NETWORK was f looded with emails after the first instalment of their documentary about Joel aired. Most were from well-wishers or were requests for help in locating other long-lost children. However, one email immediately grabbed the attention of the show’s producers. Filipino expatriate Dolly Arcaido, who had moved to Japan decades ago, had watched the first episode of the documentary on cable TV and it had jogged her memory. She explained that her mother had a friend who had lived in a house in Quezon City, not far from the Munoz Market. That woman’s five-year-old boy had disappeared around the time Joel said he did. The woman’s name, said Dolly, was Linda.
She emailed the network pictures of Linda and her son from the early 1980s and added astonishing details. She said that Linda had been a dressmaker and that the man she was seeing after her husband left was a jeepney driver. She had no idea where Linda lived now but she also said that the little boy’s name was
Joel, which was a common name in the Philippines.
What were the chances? Could Linda be Joel’s birth mother? Or would this lead, like so many others, prove to be another dead end?
When Joel saw the pictures and learnt what Dolly had said, he broke out in goose bumps. “What are the odds?” he asked his team. “She looks like me, she was a dressmaker and her son’s name was Joel!” But he soon calmed himself down, remembering how disappointed he had been with Vicky’s failed DNA test. This time he vowed to go slower and keep his emotions in check. He didn’t want to get his hopes up and have them shattered again.
However, after Julie received the picture of the woman holding her young child, she had no doubts. She shot back an email to Joel: “That’s you, Joel! I’d recognise you anywhere! It could not be anyone else.” The search was back on.
ARMED WITH THE threedecades-old photograph of Linda with him cradled in her lap, Joel returned to the same streets in Quezon City he had canvassed before. “Do you know this woman?” he asked everyone he could, “Her name is Linda.”
He went back to the Munoz Market and showed the pictures to stallholders. No one recognised the picture of the woman in her early 20s. Joel realised that so much time had passed that the chance anyone would recognise Linda were slim. But he kept showing her picture.
Undaunted, he went on radio again, telling his story, asking if anyone knew – or remembered – anything about Linda. On Mike Enriquez’s radio show he spoke directly to Linda: “This is Joel, your lost boy who went missing in 1985. All I want to do is just to meet you and know who you are and to let you know that I actually turned out OK.”
He spoke movingly on Jessica
Soho’s national TV show, again addressing his long-lost mother: “No matter what happened in the past, I hope we can put that all aside, just reconnect, and let you know that I have been blessed.” He blinked back a tear and added, “I can’t move on with my life without knowing that you exist.”
He followed up the few leads that trickled in. One said Linda had been spotted living as a squatter in the notoriously dangerous Manila North Cemetery in La Loma. Joel, his crew, and a security detail staked out the cemetery for days, asking if anyone had seen Linda. No one had.
On one of his interviews he ended his message to Linda by saying, “I would really love to meet you and am praying that you want to meet me as well.” When lead after lead turned up nothing, doubts began to creep into Joel’s mind. What if Linda abandoned me? What if she has no interest in meeting me? Or is she out there somewhere living rough, destitute? Is she dead? He fought against these dark thoughts, trying to stay positive, hoping against hope that he would eventually locate his mother.
WHILE DRIVING THROUGH the busy streets in a suburb outside Manila, dodging jeepneys and jaywalkers as he drove his small delivery truck to drop off an order, Amado Rio was listening to Mike Enriquez’s morning radio show. As he heard Joel tell his story about his search for Linda and the dead ends and twists and turns he had encountered during his time in Manila, he suddenly realised that his wife Herminia, whom he had married nearly 25 years ago, might be the woman Joel was looking for. He knew she had lost a son decades ago, before they met. But, he wondered, who was ‘Linda’?
Amado was hesitant to mention Joel’s story to his wife. He remembered how upset she had gotten while watching the GMA documentary about a lost boy who eventually found his birth mother. He even recalled her turning off the show before it ended. Nevertheless, the next morning he asked her, “Were you ever called Linda?” “Yes, long ago,” she told him. Amado paused, walked over to Herminia and held her hand. “I think your son is looking for you.”
JUST AFTER 11 AM on February 9, 2017, Herminia Rio rode through the traffic-clogged streets of Quezon City in a van supplied by the GMA
DOUBTS BEGAN TO CREEP INTO JOEL’S MIND. “WHAT IF LINDA ABANDONED ME? WHAT IF SHE HAS NO INTEREST IN MEETING ME?”
Network. She had been unable to sleep for the past 24 hours, ever since she contacted the network and told them that she was ‘Linda’, the mysterious woman in the photograph.
When the TV producers came to her home and showed her a picture of Joel at five years old, she broke down in tears. “My Joel,” was all she could manage to say at first. Then, after showing them other pictures of her and Joel from the early 1980s, she convinced them that she was Joel’s birth mother. Between sobs she asked them, “Where is Joel? I want to hug him!”
She was taken to meet the man who she was sure was her long-lost son. As the van rounded a corner where she was due to meet Joel, she broke down in tears. “Please give me a minute,” she asked one of the producers. “I need to stop crying.”
A few minutes later, after wiping her eyes dry and breathing deeply to calm herself, she spotted Joel standing on a street corner. He was surrounded by a TV crew and interested bystanders.
Even at a distance she recognised him instantly. It is Jo-Jo, she said to herself. Her son, whom she had not seen in 30 years, was now standing only metres away. She felt her heart
beating faster as she walked over to him. Clutching pictures of Joel as a five year old in her left hand, she nervously approached him and asked, “Are you Jo-Jo?”
“I am,” he answered and smiled nervously back at her. “Are you Herminia?”
She nodded. For a brief moment both said nothing. Then Herminia, too overcome to say anything else, started sobbing and fell into Joel’s arms. Words were unnecessary as mother and son wrapped their arms tightly around one another and cried.
The TV cameras caught the warm embrace and also the moment that would touch the hearts of millions of viewers. Wrapped in each other’s arms, Herminia noticed Joel crying and gently wiped away his tears with her handkerchief, just as she had done so often more than 30 years ago. At long last, against all odds, her son had come back home. Editor’s Note: A DNA test confirmed what Herminia and Joel already knew; that she was his biological mother. Julie needed no such confirmation. As soon as she saw the video of Herminia wiping away Joel’s tears, she knew Joel had finally found his birth mother, because “only a mother would do that.”
Since being reunited with Joel, Herminia has met his adoptive mother Julie, who has filled her in on Joel’s life in Australia, and Herminia has visited them both in his adopted home. During his search, Joel also located his biological father, who now lives in the US.
Neither Vicky’s long-lost son, Dante, or Jose Manselo, the taxi driver who rescued Joel from the Munoz Market, have been located, but Joel has pledged to keep searching for them. He is working on a documentary based on his own story that he hopes will bring awareness to adoption and help adoptees, as he says, “write the blank pages of their own narrative.”
A photo of Joel, age five, taken on arrival at the orphanage. He was adopted 18 months later
Five-year-old Jo-Jo began his frantic search for his mother in the busy streets outside Munoz Market
Joel in Australia with his adoptive mother, Julie, and sister, Grace, who was born after his adoption
Linda holds Joel, aged three, on her lap in the house where they lived, surrounded by friends
Joel with Julie and Herminia. Julie filled Herminia in on Joel’s life in Australia