Searching for Home, the Impact of WWII on a Hidden Child by Joseph Gosler, retired Business Manager. For about 20 years Joe and I both worked at Friends, and though I knew that he had been a Jewish baby hidden from harm with a Christian family in Holland during World War II, through this book I learned that harm came anyway, despite the best intentions of his parents and the warmth of the caring family that took him in. When his biological parents left him, he may not have experienced much trauma since was so young; having his needs met was paramount. But the separation at age three from the only family he knew was deeply distressing and colored his entire life.
Because I raised a child from the foster care system, of all social issues, the one I feel most passionately about is this one – innocent children tossed about by circumstance, snatched from a loving environment and cast into the unknown. Given the horror of World War II, it is hard to think of any way Joe could have been better protected, but his experience should wake us up to how critical it is to assure a loving home to all children – children at the border, children in our foster care system, children of wars, abuse, and extreme poverty.
Joe’s story is not all those stories, of course, and shows how one resilient individual found ways to cope with lingering anger and anxiety. Searching for Home is an autobiography that goes all the way up to Joe’s retirement. It shows him finding his way, after being reunited with his biological family, first in Israel and then in New York. It shows him struggling with relationships, wrestling with confusing feelings toward his parents, and abiding feelings of affection toward the family in Holland. He was helped at multiple times along the way by a succession of canine “therapists.” By dint of his own efforts he finds a career path that suits him, a marriage partnership, and fatherhood. In the end, this story is one of valiance. We root for him and he comes through. This book is a gift because it shows us from the inside the serious and long-lasting turmoil this kind of experience produces.