If there is one thing I have learned throughout my searches for birth family, it is that collaboration with as many people as will further your cause, the more likely your skills and goals can be reached. Going solo in any field that touches an adoptee or birth parents search is just not going to pan out well. Making our search for family a learning experience, as well as, an emotional journey, can give us the perspective and skills to handle our experience most beneficially.
I am never too vain to not reach out and ask for help. It is not just a matter of humility as it is a cooperation that can lead us into areas we thought were already explored thoroughly. The world is not just our oyster, it is a network of very capable people who, when asked, can and will respond.
So what specifically am I referring to? First there are books that can expand our knowledge on genetic genealogy, clubs and societies that can take and encourage us to get a deeper understanding on genealogy, regional resources like libraries and other assets that have not yet made their way online using traditional search methodologies.
Even taking a simple online class in genealogy can help you understand the value of certain resources and the expectations on where they are best used or may have limits on what you will find. Why are the nineteen-forty US Census Polls so much better than those of previous years? Questions like these and many others can be answered if you just take the time to look.
You don’t have to be an expert to start in genealogy. Nor do you have to be a geneticist to take a DNA test and understand the results. Both are skills one can acquire slowly, although it would be economical to learn what tests to take before spending money with a DNA testing company.
Using social media one can join groups on Facebook, follow organizations on Twitter, and signup for newsletters sent through emails to further your knowledge on many subjects. You do not even need a computer or smart phone to participate in these groups. I know of one birth mother I am working with now who visits her local library and uses their computer resources to correspond with me, read my email and blog posts, as well as work with her account on Ancestry.com and DNA test results.
It does not mean that every resource is completely free, but with a limited budget there are ways to get deeply involved in one’s family genealogy without it costing a lot of money. You just have to be motivated and dedicated enough to be resourceful and you will find a way to keep involved and expand your knowledge on these subjects. A handy notepad and a pencil is all that’s needed in most cases to organize your search and keep up with the clues and tips.
Learning not to take everything on their face value is the first step in genealogy. You have to question what is presented to you and learn to try and substantiate it with more proof. When working with adoptees I will sometimes move forward on hunches or gut feelings, but never take things as fact until I move forward to discover actual documentation that will prove the step I took was accurate or not. If I find someone claiming that a child in the family has a suffix of “Junior” at the end of their name, there is a pretty solid chance the father was also named after this child. However, as obvious as that might sound we still need to substantiate it. This child may be from a previous marriage, so we need to find documentation that helps us prove that the father is in fact named correctly; even if the Census Poll we find only contains his initials, it still can be effective.
There are certainly times where my assistance can fast forward the search process. However, it is still very advantageous to learn what I have done and how I came to these conclusions. I would rather have someone question my results, than just go along with every suggestion I make. Having a second set of eyes is like having someone proof read a manuscript before it makes it to the press. Try and keep an open mind when someone questions your genealogy. In most cases it is not intended to make you feel foolish, rather than save you enormous amounts of time taking a second look at something pointed out.