Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Making Family Connections with Newly Discovered Siblings

This week my family, friends, and I witnessed the discovery of previously unknown immediate birth family members for two separate people. While not all such discoveries end in happily ever after connections, just having the opportunity for these people to have some answers to life long questions is very valuable. This is not my normal type of work and I only provide leads for others to follow. With the amount of information online it is usually possible to find the people being sought. It also usually takes a combination of knowledge in doing genealogical research, DNA testing and online resources. When providing such information there is a firm and clear explanation as to the risks involved and the need to proceed with caution.

The first one came as a referral from my brother. His friend and I spoke on the phone some time ago and on July 12 he sent me an email. He wanted to find his birth father, who had no idea that he even existed. The birth was the result of an affair and his mother remained married with her husband being named as the father on the birth certificate. The birth parents were both serving in the military in Germany, so that provided some details. When he first contacted me he provided very little information, just a name and possible state of residence.

To learn more I sent him a list of questions. They included:
Is your mother still living?
Were your parents married and if where?
Do you have a copy of your birth certificate and would you mind sharing the information on it?
Do you have any idea where he was living in that state?
What branch of the military were they in?
Any little tidbits help me know I am looking at the right person.

After doing some research online on July17 and finding a person who fit the criteria being sought, I turned to my good friend who works on helping adoptees find their birth families. Working together I give her assistance in doing genealogy related work and she provides me assistance in doing people searches. They might sound like very similar types of work, but actually we use some very different resources. She sent me a people search and a newspaper article with a picture of the man in question. Forwarding the collection of my information and then her collection to my brother's friend, I waited to hear his response.

This was his response:
the man in the picture is absolutely my father my mom saw it, my wife saw it, they both agree that it is definitely him...
where do we go from here and how do we get the information so that I can contact him?
let me know what you think...

He decided to contact the place of employment as none of the phone listings worked. With cell-phones making a phone contact is more problematic. Some people use a go-between person to make this initial contact, but he chose to send a letter directly to him.

Yesterday my brother called me as he waited to take this friend to the airport. On July 24, seven days after making the discovery, he was flying to spend four days with his birth father and four new siblings. My brother inquired as to my usual fees for doing this type of work and I said nothing for the right people. His friend is so thrilled to have finally resolved this missing piece of his life. My prayers are for a very successful meeting and a lifelong connection that will be a blessing in all of their lives. I just asked for him to share some pictures with me of this event. For someone I have never met, it is a true pleasure to have helped him in this discovery.

The second one came through helping my research friend in one of her many projects. This time they had DNA results that were pointing to possible family connections. In the process I created pedigree charts so she could follow the family connections. My friend works with another great genealogy professional, who actually made the connection this time. They were able to find a brother, who she met this week. Her birth mother has passed away, but there is other extended family she is connecting with.

For people who have a great desire to know how they came into this world, this is a tremendous blessing. Whenever an individual begins such a journey it is best to go at their pace. One person I am working with has placed her name on the state registry and she knows what her next steps should be, but she is not pressing forward. When she is ready I am here, happy to stand by her side as she delves deeper in the process. Using caution, knowledgeable researchers and available resources are key components to making family connections. If you have loose ends in your family history, know that there are people who are willing to help you on your journey.

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