Miriam Rakowski (born Marie Claire Rakowski) is the daughter of Ephraim and Blima Rakowski, a Jewish couple from Poland who had moved to Belgium in the interwar period. Marie was born in Brussels during the German occupation on December 23, 1943. She had one sibling, Dora (b. 1939). Shortly after Marie's birth, the Rakowski's placed both their children in hiding. Dora was sent to a Catholic convent school and Marie was placed in the home of a Belgian pharmacist named Hicket. The Hickets had no children and treated Marie as their own flesh and blood. During the occupation Ephraim and Blima were deported to Auschwitz, where Ephraim perished. Blima survived but was too ill to care for her daughters. After the liberation she asked the Hicket family if they would care for Marie for another two years. At the end of that period, Blima wanted to resume custody, but the Hickets, who truly loved Marie, refused to give her up. Blima then authorized a Jewish organization to kidnap Marie and bring her to Switzerland. Marie was traumatized by this experience since the Hickets were the only family she had ever known. Marie's reunion with her natural family was not happy. Her mother was still too ill to care for her daughters, and Marie felt that her sister resented the fact that she had spent the war in the home of a loving family. While Blima struggled to regain her health, the girls were sent to a series of foster homes. In 1949 Marie and Dora received papers to immigrate to the United States. However, Blima, who had been born in Poland, had to remain behind, since the Polish quota was filled. Once in America, the girls were placed in another series of foster homes under the sponsorship of the orthodox Agudat Israel movement. The only stability in their lives was provided by the summer camp they attended each year. Blima finally arrived in the US to reclaim her children in 1953. Marie was already ten years old when she went to live with her mother. The scars of the war were too deep to be easily healed, and when Marie was sixteen she left to live in a group home for girls.