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Biological Parents

Genealogy Today: Finding Adopted Kin's Story Takes Sleuthing.


My daughter and her husband have mailed their adoption application file to China. We'll have a new baby in the family in a few months. Since Jen and Rob said they were open to adopting siblings, we may have more than one.

Adoption is not a new thing to our family. My daughter-in-law is adopted, we have a foster daughter who we think of as an adopted daughter, and my grandmother's mother was adopted. From the e-mail that I receive from Columbian readers, my family must be about average in the adoption department.

A reader asks how to find out if the family story about his grandfather being adopted is true. His grandfather died at a young age in 1918, and there are no living relatives who have personal knowledge of his adoption.

My suggestion is to begin with what is known and work backward. He should obtain all documents that were created at the time of his grandfather's death. This would include a death certificate and an obituary. There might be a probate, too.

In adoptions, there is almost always secrecy involved. There used to be a stigma attached to adoption, and records were often modified. In the death records, there may be some piece of information that seems a bit strange. It should be noted because it may make sense later.

The death records should provide names of the adopted parents. In the "olden days," they were often neighbors. The neighborhood should be researched. Looking at the censuses that were taken every 10 years is a good start for this.

Census research is easy to do with the Ancestry Plus database available at the Vancouver Public Library and the HeritageQuestOnline database available on your home computer through the Vancouver Public Library's Web site. For further information about these, look at the library's Web site, www.fvrl.org. Click on "Genealogy Resources."

The next steps involve a bit of effort. You need to learn what kinds of documents are available for the locality and time where your people lived. You need to learn how to obtain them. This means you need to take classes and read books.

The National Genealogical Society has an online course called "Introduction to Genealogy." Information about it is on its Web site, www.ngsgenealogy.org. Follow the "Learning Center" links.

For a quick read, Desmond Walls Allen has placed her "Beginner's Guide to Family History Research" on her Web site, www.arkansasresearch.com.

Connie Lenzen can be reached in care of The Columbian, P.O. Box 180, Vancouver, WA 98666. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply. Or e-mail her at gencolumn@yahoo.com.


This article was written by Connie Lenzen for The Columbian, Clark County, Washington 12/ 21/05

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