Friday, February 23, 2018

The best of 2017

Last year had a lot of big accomplishments and memorable days for me - my genealogy business did better than ever, I got to attend DNA Day and the SCGS Jamboree again, and we commemorated the birthday and angel anniversary of my little boy Levi. Among everything that happened, one big thing stands out - an adoption research case I was asked to help on.

A coworker of mine had heard I was into genealogy, and wanted to know if I could help her find her birth family. I said sure, I'd be happy to do what I could. After following several DNA-related mailing lists and watching a few seasons of shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots, I was expecting a long, drawn-out, exhaust every possible lead-style search. She brought me a stack of papers she'd collected from courts and other places. As I sorted through them, I was shocked to see how much information she had - transcripts and summaries of the court proceedings leading up to the adoption, detailed information (minus the names) of her birth parents and their families, including the name of the street they lived on and occupation of maternal grandfather. Also, the redaction on the birth mother's name in a couple places wasn't totally complete, as I could almost make out the first letter of her name, and definitely saw the last letter. I couldn't believe how much information there was right there.

I started with the city directory for the city the birth parents lived on for the year of the adoption (thank you Ancestry!). I went through every name on that street, searching for someone who had the occupation listed in the court records, or no occupation given, since it's not always listed. I'd made a list of about 70 names of possible candidates, when suddenly I found one man who worked for the exact company mentioned. Time froze for a second - was this the family? I knew from the court records the birth mother was born after 1940, but she had a couple siblings who were born before then. I jumped over to the 1940 census, found the family and everything fit. PERFECTLY. The ages, the genders, the address, all of it. I couldn't believe it - the whole thing took less than two hours!

I kept searching, and found a high school yearbook for the birth mother's school. She and the birth father had met in high school, and after looking through the high school yearbooks on Ancestry for that town, I was able to find their full names, and obtain senior pictures of both of them. I also found obituaries for them both (sadly they had had both passed away some years ago), which gave the names of half-siblings on both sides. I couldn't believe it!

I wrote a report of the search, compiled all the pictures, and handed them over the next day. Pretty soon, my coworker contacted me, saying she had located and contacted half-siblings on both sides, and was readily accepted by both sides of her family. That was the best news of all. You always wonder how that phone call will go - will they be expecting you? Will they even believe you? It was just awesome to hear about how well everything went for her. In all the research I've done over the years, this stands out in my absolute favorite experiences in genealogy.

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