History Lesson

October 19- November 7, 1998

Once upon a time, an adoptee longed to know his roots. He studied history, but felt that it applied to everyone else and not him because he didnít have a personal history. His adoptive grandfather was a genealogist, and he loved to spend time with Granpa as he worked on his files and notebooks, but he knew that he didnít REALLY belong in THAT set of books. He wondered if he would ever belong anywhere.

When he grew up, he began to search for his birth family. His adoptive parents gave him all the information they had, which was very little. He contacted the adoption agency, but they were, by law, unable to give him the information he sought. He contacted the hospital in which heíd been born, but learned that the only files they had were for the past 5 years. He had learned much about genealogical research from the many Saturday afternoons of research with Granpa, but nothing heíd learned helped him find his own history. A

s the years passed, he continued to contact the adoption agency regularly. They finally told him that the laws in their state had changed and they could now contact his birth mother for him and see if she wanted to meet him. He was thrilled, and asked them to proceed with all due haste. A few weeks later, his case worker called him, with the sad news that his birth mother and both of his maternal grandparents had died through the years. However, his uncle was still living and was willing to receive a letter from the adoptee and answer what questions he could. He was, unfortunately, many years younger than his sister and really didnít know her very well before her death at the age of 29.

The adoptee wrote a brief letter to his uncle asking the traditionally important questions of health and physical history. He asked about his motherís life and her happiness. But he tried to limit his questions so as not to overwhelm the kindly older man who had never known of his birth. Imagine his surprise when a week later he received a package from his uncle, containing an inch thick 3-ring binder with page after page of genealogical information--just like the kind his Grandpa used to have! Not only were factual names, dates, and places included, but stories of the familyís history!

There were stories of how a great-great-grandfather had emigrated from Russia, and how a great-great grandmother had traveled by Conestoga wagon from Virginia to Missouri, and how another great-grandfather had been elected mayor of his town, and a great-aunt had fought for womenís rights to vote. There was a newspaper article about his grandfather returning from a war, and his mothers obituary, describing her death by drug overdose. Laid out before the adoptee was his connection to all the great movements of history that heíd only read about before. Suddenly, he owned a place in history! He belonged.

HINT:It ainít rocket science, folks! ď...He studied history, but felt that it applied to everyone else and not him because he didnít have a personal history... He wondered if he would ever belong anywhere... Suddenly, he owned a place in history! He belonged.Ē

If you are even a junior genealogist, keep up the good work! Document your familiesí histories. Listen to your parents and grandparents stories. Record them. You never know when or to whom they will be important!

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