Richard De Cora started the New Year celebrating the fact that he had found his twin brother, Bobby. By Monday evening he had even more to be joyful about--three other brothers and a sister.
John Foster of Simi Valley read The Times' story Monday on the De Cora twins' reunion after being separated for 10 1/2 years and he couldn't believe it. Richard and Robert were the twin brothers he thought were dead.
"I've been out in left field since I saw the story," Foster said. "I haven't been able to concentrate all day. I wouldn't even have seen the story today because I got up late and didn't read the paper before I went to work. My wife didn't, either. But my mother-in-law called my wife, Donna, and she said, 'Those brothers in the paper, aren't those the twins that John was looking for?' "
How to Reach De Coras?
Donna Foster, with her mother, Irene Carey, called The Times and asked how she could reach the De Coras, then they called John and Gary Foster, who both work at ITT-Neodyn, an aerospace products firm in Chatsworth. John supervises engineering projects and Gary is in quality assurance.
When John Foster got home from work on Monday afternoon, he got out a family album of photos and found a picture of Richard and Robert when they were about 2 months old. They are 32 now. "It reads 'Ricky and Robbie' on the back," Foster said. "That's what we knew them as, as kids."
Neither Richard nor Bobby De Cora can remember anything about their early childhood until they were about 5. Both believed they were abandoned at birth by their parents because of their disabilities. Richard is legally blind, but has some sight in his left eye; Bobby was born blind and with cerebral palsy.
But John Foster, 33, can set the record straight. "They lived with us until they were 3," he said of the twins. "And then it just got to be too much for my parents, with the twins' disabilities and all. There were four of us besides the twins."
The parents, Evelyn and James De Cora, now deceased, sent their identical twin sons to Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona in 1957 when the boys were 3 years old.
"They just didn't think they could care for them properly with the rest of us," Foster explained. "There were Lynn, Mike, myself and Gary."
Bobby remained at Lanterman until September, 1986, when he was assigned to Burnett's Home, an intermediate care facility in Pico Rivera for the developmentally disabled handicapped.
Reunited in November
Richard was adopted at age 5 and grew up in South-Central Los Angeles with his adoptive parents, Beatrice and Henry Redd, both now deceased. He currently lives in La Crescenta and attends Pasadena City College and the Braille Institute. Through efforts of employees at Burnett's Home, Richard was reunited with Bobby in November.
As he waited to speak with his brother Richard on the phone Monday night, John Foster explained how the family became separated.
"When we were little, I vaguely remember going to Pomona to visit the twins, but then Mom and Dad got a divorce about 1964 and we all got split up," Foster said. "Lynn (now 39) was married so she already had left home, and Mike (now 36) went to live with our father. He went into the service after that. But they both kept the name De Cora. Gary and I stayed with mother and she got remarried to Bud Foster. That's why both his and my last names are Foster. He legally changed our names. Gary (now 31) was so little, he just barely remembers the twins."
A couple of years ago, Foster said their sister, Lynn De Cora Wills, a real estate broker, was visiting here from her home in Grants Pass, Ore., and he and she decided to try to find the twins. "We got a lot of bum information and nothing turned up," he said. "Lynn tried calling the State of California and got nothing there, either."
Mike De Cora, a homicide detective with the Dade County Sheriff's Department in Florida, was surprised too to learn that the twins had been found. "As far as we knew, they were dead," he said in a phone interview from his home in Homestead, Fla. "This is a real surprise. It's been so long that I don't remember that much. But they did live with the family. It would be nice to come out and see them, but it's hard to say when, with my work schedule. John's going to plan a reunion."
Contacted in Sierra Madre at a home where he was visiting some blind handicapped students, Richard De Cora was almost speechless when he heard he and Bobby had additional family members.
"I'm glad I'm sitting down," he said finally. "Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Wow. I'm going to be saying that for quite some time. I can't handle all this at once."
'It's a Miracle'
When he heard his brother John's voice on the phone, Richard De Cora began to cry.
"Oh, God, it's a miracle," De Cora managed to say. "I won't be able to sleep tonight."