Memoir recalls years in Duluth children’s homeTerry Degner, author of “My Brave Little Man,” recounts the years he spent in a Duluth orphanage.
Terry Degner, author of “My Brave Little Man,” recounts the years he spent in a Duluth orphanage.
The book, which is rich in history on Duluth’s past, chronicles Terry’s early years as he overcame a series of adversities.
Remember the firestorm of controversy when an American woman sent the 7-year-old boy she had just adopted from Russia back to his country, thus abandoning him?
When the incident happened back in 2009, people throughout the world were outraged. They wanted to know how a mother who so desperately wanted a child and finally had one could do such a thing.
Degner of Eden Prairie, Minn., believes he knows the answer.
“It is because older children who have been abandoned often come with baggage and if adoptive parents aren’t prepared to react to that baggage in a loving way, they can be sidetracked, derailed,” he said.
Degner speaks from experience. He carried around a lot of baggage after he and his two siblings, Jean and Larry, were abandoned by their mother in 1950.
Terry was 4, his sister Jean was 3 and brother Larry was 2 when their mother dropped them off at the Children’s Home, an orphanage in Duluth. She told the children their stay would be temporary, and before they knew it they’d be back home with her. The promised reunion never happened.
In his recently published memoir, “My Brave Little Man,” published by Bandi Publishing, Degner shares the details he remembers about the day his whole world fell apart.
“I took Jean’s and Larry’s hands,” Degner wrote. “When we were about halfway up the steep entrance steps, I let go and sat sulking with my arms folded over my chest. Mom grabbed my arm and half carried, half dragged me the rest of the way. At the large double doors, she bent over, grabbed me by the shoulders and said, ‘What will the other children think when they see you acting like this?’
“I looked at her with clenched teeth and said, ‘I don’t care what they think. I’m not going to stay here and you can’t make me!’”
Degner stayed true to his word. He ran away from the home several times during his three-year stay, each time returning in defeat. He and his siblings lived at the Children’s Home until the summer of 1953. His brother, Larry, was adopted July 6. The author and his sister, Jean, were adopted eight days later.
“My new parents were wonderful people, very caring and patient, even though I didn’t make it easy on them,” said Degner.
Degner delves into the feelings he was experiencing throughout “My Brave Little Man,” a project he promised himself he’d take on when he was just 12 years old.
“My Brave Little Man” is available for purchase at select bookstores, or online through the author’s website, www.tadegner.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com and www.Amazon.com.