Once there are a few distant and close relatives that appear to align our adoptee to a specific household, based on our genetic genealogy, the rest of the tree fades into the background and the attention is narrowed down to the parents and children of the family of focus. These individuals may prove to align with clues that have been gathered, our non-identifying information, attained from the agency that managed our adoptees relinquishment into adoption.
Normally we take the non-identifying information, made up of potential birth parents names, or clues that might identify the age they were when our adoptee was born, are used as we build out a tree. However, on occasion the only thing we can potentially rely on is the age of the birth mother. Subtracting her age from the year of the adoptees birth, gives us a year to focus on.
Having triangulated the potential family in question they may belong to, a quick scan is conducted for anyone likely to be either the birth mother or father; based on ages we know possible. If these do not align, the next phase is to spend a few hours scouring over census records, possible addresses, and other locations that might flesh out the family members a bit more.
The process is a bit tedious, yet challenging. First I will take any likely named that adds a marriage and children. Then I will move forward in time to the children to see if any of them had an untimely death. I know, it is morbid, but an obituary can identify many family members including grandparents, which would further validate our information; giving our guess to move forward with the specific marriage we may have guessed on, more credibility. As mentioned earlier, a death in the family can both be a tragedy and a triumph for the genealogist looking for more information. Taking anyone’s death in vain is a bad mistake.
Besides someone passing away, we can certainly look at the marriage records for any clues like a maiden name, or specific mention of the parents of the husband or wife. The parents eventually pass away and their obituaries can name living relatives and grandchildren. Just placing those names below the parents can lead to hints containing further documentation for us to substantiate those who came before and those who came after.
If we are lucky enough to come across stories appended to obituaries, or even a record sharing who attended the funeral and shared their message in a hand written note describing their names, relation to the family, and memories that they wanted to share, these nuggets are priceless for the genealogist. Next come wills and deeds, mentioning who may have been named as the beneficiary to the recently deceased. Any bit of information can help us bring a family to life with the missing names of children, siblings, and grandchildren.
If contact becomes the objective of our search, I will next delve into online databases. Don’t let any of them fool you. The best ones are not free, but the best you will get are clues within two to ten years of the present day. I have used a few reliable people finding databases that have potential to find leads into social media accounts family members may be using, like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. I know, it is creepy to think I am lurking about someone’s personal information online. However, they put it there for everyone to see. It is not like I am hacking into a private file. This information is in the public domain. However private you think you might be as an adult, the grandchildren take the most prolific pictures and name everyone in them.
Unless you are a complete hermit, you have likely left a trail of social media posts all over the Internet for the past decade. Everyone of these posts have been somewhat mapped out in some database somewhere with names, pictures, and any other keywords a machine can gather for people like me to hone in on. Personally I do not mind leaving a trail of all my posts I have ever made behind. A long time ago I made it a policy that I not share anything out there on the Internet I would not already share with a complete stranger.
Fortunately, in my case I am not trying to find you to stalk your every move. Although, if you have relinquished a daughter or son and you thought they might never find you, think again; for one day they might come knocking at your door, calling on your phone, or sending you a letter. These adoptees are not looking to give you grief. I promise you, the searchers really do get a good idea what these people are like before we start handing over any information. I have yet to find one out for revenge. The vast majority just wants to find their birth family; if it becomes a reunion that blossoms into a relationship, that’s great. However, most would simply be content not to be rejected. As most have feared that was the core reason they were put up for adoption; that they were not wanted.