Introduction | Personal Story


I am Ray "Rajko" Ranic - AKA "THE BALKAN LION." The adopted son of Serbian parents. At age 4 1/2 I was forcibly removed from my home and parents by the police and Dept. of Social Services in what is known as Termination of Parental Rights. That was in 1957. More than 40 years later in 1998 I reunited with the last of 15 siblings in a personal search beginning in 1995 and ending in 1998. The Mission Statement of The Balkan Lion is as follows:

1) To raise the consciousness level regarding the severity of child abuse issues and the education needed to deal with this problem.

2) Provide statistics and information that define the severity and types of child abuse.

3) To use the guise and personification of "THE BALKAN LION" to bring information regarding areas of interest such as child welfare statistics, abuse education, politics, humor, life stories, life mysteries, music and commentary for thought, debate and discussion.

4) To encourage educational systems of the need to develop core studies programs or a curriculum program teaching issues of child abuse. A testing area for child abuse curriculum development and implementation would be ideal!

5) To establish an "ALL CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED" "TBL" Foundation. "THE BALKAN LION/TBL Foundation will use the motto/statement "ALL CHILDREN NEED TO BE LOVED" as the heart and soul of this foundation-it is also the primary statement of the website of THE BALKAN LION.

6) Establish a forum regarding the subject of OPEN RECORDS ACCESS. The objective is for adoptees, foster children, siblings, birthparents of the UNITED STATES the opportunity to freely obtain identifying, non identifying and medical information at age 18 regarding their family history.

7) To preserve and elevate interest in music and its importance to students within our educational systems. To raise the visibility of Tamburitza music and its preservation through my lifetime of dedication to music within the Balkan community and communication through the personality of “THE BALKAN LION” and this website.

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As THE BALKAN LION FOUNDATION takes shape-more information will be provided on its progress and development. (Please contact me through this website of your desire to participate and become involved with the TBL Foundation.


My mission is that this website communicates my story and personality in such a way as to bring hope, healing, ideas, new paths, evolutionary and maybe revolutionary approaches to the issues of child abuse education. Evolutionary thoughts on occasion require revolutionary views so that our children may benefit, our future generations enriched and taught that there is another way that we need to reach our children. I also believe that each of us has our own individual personality and spirituality to deal with.

Teach a child and they can learn. Sex and abuse are powerful tools-together-they are devastating in their effect and impact on a child. Sex is like a drug-you dont control it-It controls you-In the wrong hands vicious sexual, physical, and emotional abuse wreak havoc upon the mind that leave deep scars and last a lifetime. Some heal (to an extent) while many victims of abuse don't and can't heal.

In addition we need to teach accountability for the souls we bring into this world. Much more is at stake than statistics and pregnancy numbers " FAMILIES". Single parent family children in the United States are raging out of control. 20,000,000 in the USA under the age of 18 and 5,000,000 more over the age of 18. 25,000,000!!!!

The numbers are STAGGERING! In the most effective healing & spiritual way I know-Ive made a most difficult decision in life-to trust my spirit-my inner being-and give the best idea I have-for hope-that someone-many of you-will read this-use it and begin that first important step toward saving the lives of our children. One of those steps for defining child abuse is to teach it in a curriculum setting before they are college bound!


As you will see throughout this website-I also have a desire to discuss and debate various "Life Mysteries" and spirituality in its varying forms. This website is dedicated to serious discussion and debate.

I believe that much of the benefits of a childs life start within the home-a home without spirituality nor soul direction is where many of our childrens problems begin The goodness of our children and the future of our planet begins with the home-however-more must be done-and the classroom will have to be a place to teach issues regarding abuse to our children at a time in their lives-where they can learn the benefits of proper treatment toward one another and lay the foundation for proper parenting skills that can one day make our planet a safer place in which to live in.

Our schools need to teach in greater power-that the mind at its earliest learning-is limited-by ourselves-no one else-nothing limits us-accept us-I believe our minds, bodies and spirituality are inter-connected to learn-to heal-and to GROW!

May God Bless our Freedoms & opportunity to Teach-Educate Learn and GROW! Join me on this different adventure that we may learn & GROW - from each other!

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I am Ray "Rajko" Ranic. AKA "THE BALKAN LION". The adopted son of Serbian parents who took myself and a younger brother into their homes, hearts and lives. We were raised in the Serbian Orthodox faith and culture. At the age of twelve I was introduced to the world of Tamburitza music (pronounced tam-boor-eet-za). At one point I remember talking to my dad about how difficult music was and he reminded me that "quitting in life doesnt accomplish anything". As for dads advice-my music instructor first said "Hell never play-he should quit-he doesnt have what it takes”. He changed his mind a short time later when he heard me practicing one day by myself and said "I dont care what you do-buy him an instrument!"

In my life when I get knocked down-I get back up agin-(I also remember an old timer telling me the view in life isnt good from that point of view)when all you can see is someone else standing in your face all the time. The old timer was right-the view isnt so good. Sometimes you need help. It was at that time I heard the tamburitza music of THE BALKAN SERENADERS. I was hooked. Today 39 years later I am a member of the nationally known Balkan Serenaders formed by the late great Nick "Tillie" Klaich. As for me-SERENADER FOR LIFE!

Those were the formative years where you build your foundation in life-What hung over my head like "The Sword Of Damocles" hidden inside of me-were two names-two families-two childhoods-two sets of memories and personalities & a lot more. To the present-I remember the day in 1957 when the police and the Dept. Of Social Services forcibly removed us from our home-I was about 41/2 yrs old & began a journey from age 4 to 6&1/2 after being taken to a Childrens Aid Society home. I had no idea how to make sense of what had happened and no way to talk or ask about my family.

As we were separated-adopted-and began new lives over the years. In hushed tones I would tell my younger brother stories. He was never sure what to make of it all. I still remember when I was being introduced to people I would stick out my hand & say "Hi-I used to Im ....! Im sure I drove everyone nuts around me at the time. As time went on dad died in 1972. I was 18 with a 14 year old brother & mom to look after. Tough times. A lot of in-betweens not written about. I cannot praise the efforts of mom & dad enough in raising us-an example of unconditional love.

When mom died in 1994 she left the adoption papers for us. I had been asking questions about our adoption over the years but not much information was given/known. By now it was 1995 and I had spent several months reading and researching the investigation process after watching a Ricki Lake show on reunions.

Between 1994 and 1998 I spent years and many hours too numerous to tally in research regarding each sibling found. I had some help & blessings along the way. Two national newspapers covered our story "The Plain Dealer- Ohio's largest newspaper with the help of longtime friend and publisher Mr Alex Machaskee ( Ohio Hall of Fame Tamburitzan Musician and World Communicator) and The Buffalo News featuring stories by Donn Esmonde & Agnes Palazzetti.

The excellent news coverage, my research, and comments made by Debbie Merrifield, Erie County Commissioner of Social Services were most helpful in leading to the culmination and heart wrenching completion of my search ending when Judge Joseph S Mattina (recently retired) opened two sealed files giving me the last of two siblings (a brother & sister) back bringing 40 years of sibling separation to an end. Ive included some of the documents shown & even received a proclamation from the Mayor of Ohio at the time, Michael R White. In 2004 we celebrated our 7th sibling reunion.

The sum total of my Slavic upbringing, faith, music background and personal story are what bring to life the vision and voice to create "THE BALKAN LION."

As you know by now-I was raised by Slavic parents-hence the "Balkan" portion. The Lion is a voice and a personality created from "The Balkan Lion Recording Co" back in 1995 when I began work on a tape called "Messiahs Rhapsody". I completed the project in 1997 and received the prestigious "Presidents Award" from The Tamburitzan Association of America. While I was working on the "Messiahs Rhapsody" project I was also searching for family. When the tape was released I wrote five names in a heart on the tape insert. They were siblings I had been looking for but had not located.

In 1997 when I received "The Presidents Award" from the TAA in Pittsburgh, PA, three siblings still had not been located. It was as a result of my efforts 94-97 the last of my siblings were located in 1998. This is where my vision of communication originated from. It is an attempt to use my life and personal story of search and reunion as a vehicle of communication. My story can be told to everyone. Child abuse knows no boundaries and race is not a factor.

My mission is to make friends-bring healing to communities while advocating the importance of education regarding child abuse issues (especially in a classroom setting). Love your children-educate them on abuse and set them free! Im shouting from the rooftops---


A final hurdle to conquer...when I was a child I dreamt of being a super hero-Spiderman-Thor-Superman-Batman-Iron Man-Daredevil-The X-Men-The Fantastic Four-Captain America and The Avengers were part of my dream world or my "Flights of Fantasy" Steve Reeves was HERCULES on the big screen in the 60s. In my minds eye he always will be! (there was also 007-James Bond-and Sci-Fi movies) Arnold to come along shortly. My world as I knew it was beginning to grow. Along the way Mickey Mantle found his way in and I was hooked as a Yankees fan-still am today.

At age 12-I discovered the sounds of Tamburitza music while I used to rub the paint off the walls at St Stephens admiring the sounds of THE BALKAN SERENADERS. Their history of music captured the essence of what is inside of me. They communicated by the many wonderful sounds of continental and American music they played that was such a connecting factor within & outside of the Balkan community. Today I am a Balkan Serenader 12 years proud (39 years a tamburitzan) and blessed by every moment shared with these great tamburizan musicians-Vlad Popovich-Charlie Smilinich- Charlie Vukovic and saying thanks To Steve Vranjes for all the hard work & dedication in those early learning years when I drove everyone nuts learning to play and finally... paying homage to "The Man" as we called him-The late great Nick" Tillie” Klaich.

As I look back-I am 51 now-I wanted to be a Balkan Serenader- I am! I wanted to learn what happened to my family of brothers and sisters I was forcibly separated from in 1957- I have. As of 2004 we have been reunited 7 years since our nation-wide reunion of 1998-after 40 years of separation-Of the 15-two have passed on-sadly missed.

As I climb the mountain of "whats next" on my way to becoming THE BALKAN LION-super hero? Mild Mannered writer? HMMM-I cant bend steel with my bare hands-nor leap over tall buildings-I have no radar vision or super strength-Im not SUPER smart-(but dont take this as a sign of weakness to take a cheap shot either!) and like most Marvel super heroes - I have human flaws. I dont claim to be any more gifted-but Ive had an interesting life.

I stepped into my Slavic background and have come forward with a story and a desire to communicate and become my own kind of personality by crossing boundaries of nationality-race-creed-and belief system regarding child abuse education and OTHER areas of interest-like politics-humor-controversy-heart warming stories and more-all within the mind and web pages of "The Balkan Lion."

I also have a deep interest in Life Mysteries & some of the things that have occurred in my life & other areas we explore-will leave you shaking your head in wonderment. I dont wear a cape nor a mask-& humbly-As I stand before you-not in judgement-but as a man with some tough roads climbed-humble enough to thank God for the MANY blessings received while still-trying to peek over the wall-sometimes with humor-sometimes with questions-sometimes controversial-but believing that it will serve a good purpose and I hope mine-strikes the right note if you will -with you the reader & critic all rolled into one.

Be kind!- a vision if you will that has stayed with me since 1995 I have brought to life for the education-communication and the salvation of abused children. I have had many roads to salvation in my life and wise enough to recognize them. My parents who gave myself and my brother a wonderful chance at life through adoption-my music-education-blessings and losses-strange occurances & more along the way- have carved their life inpact into who & what I am - It is through this life journey & what Ive learned----that I am---





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