The forest, the trees and courage

Many of the searches I have been on lately have taken a much more cerebral perspective. The genealogical progress has been put off simply to give the information collected, thus far, more clarity. It can be so easy in genealogy to take a small hint of information and treat it as facts. Back tracking to make sure what has been collected is accurate is very important.

Literally one incorrectly placed individual on a tree can send the entire search into a tailspin of misinformation. Each searcher should take the time to go back to the beginning and refresh where they started, or at very least, where they have recently gone on a branch within the genealogy.

Recently I came across a husband of an individual who married his wife’s sister after their marriage ended. When that kind of event occurs I always need to try and verify that it really happened that way. Especially when the first marriage did not end because the spouse passed away.

I often think that the saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees” seems apropos in genealogy when we are too quick to accept information as truth before collecting enough documentation to back it up. Consider the meaning of that saying: That if you look at things one at a time, you might not realize that a branch of separate "trees" go together to make a "forest".

In some cases, there just becomes a need to stop and examine steps taken and evidence to support the branches created in our genealogy. It is rare that time is on our side in an adoptees search for their first family. Many of us have waited for our adopted family to pass away rather than face the guilt and mixed drama looking before. In some cases either the search has taken too long, or waiting until after our adopted parents have gone, the chances are we won’t find living birth family to reach out to at the conclusion.

This anxiety becomes a persistent reminder in an adoptee search each day, week, month or year that is counted in pursuit of the truth. It is no wonder some individuals become very active in the policies surrounding the opening up of original birth certificates within their State of origin. So many people unaffected by adoption seem oblivious to the effort required by adoptees and birth relatives have to undertake to find one another. Even if the search was motivated by basic needs, like understanding one’s heritage, to the extreme desire to understand medical predispositions of the birth families. Neither scenario seems reason enough, in some States, to offer a clear route for attaining this knowledge.

Whether it seem an uphill climb based on the laws of the State we were born in, or the misstep of recorded data in genetic genealogy regarding our search for these basic human rights, they both equal a poorly justified reason to force adoptees and their birth relatives to be subjected to finding the information that others take for granted. George Bernard Shaw's play Back to Methuselah said, “life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful”, only seems to apply to adoptees when they have found what their looking for. That realization may not always be at the end of our search, but in all the effort and challenges that we have faced upon our journey.