Other Travelers – Part 2 – Adopted Ancestors?

Other Travelers – Part 2 -Adopted Ancestors?

(Part of the Series- “Other Travelers”)

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter


Here are some aids to help you in family history searching for yourself, or for your ancestors, that have been adopted:

Find out as much as you can about the family that adopted him/her.

They may be blood relatives, especially in a private adoption.  The grandmother may have adopted her own grandchild, or maybe it was an aunt, etc.

Find out all you can about the orphanages in the area.  Apply directly to the orphanage for the child’s paperwork.  His/her birth certificate, admission and exit papers may give you clues.

Also apply at the County where the birth took place for vital records.  You could also search the indexes there for the names of who was born on a certain date.  Some counties have indexes of birth/marriage/death records on-line on their government websites.  Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are updating new records daily.  It might be worth another look.

If their father is the mystery person, see if there are any known male descendants (cousins, siblings) that would get a y chromosome DNA test.  If the mother is the mystery person, have the oldest related male or female descendant get a mitochondrial (x chromosome) DNA test, as either male or female will have their mother’s x chromosome.  Females have their second x chromosome from their father, so a y chromosome test will not work for them.

If you or your older blood relative gets an Autosomal  DNA test, it will help with general ethnic heritage only.  Unless another unknown relative has also gotten that test, and sees your family tree on Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, etc.  They may contact you with further information.

Many adoptions now are more open, with birth parents kept in knowledge (if not involved) in the child’s life.  But more adoptions are being done across the country, or even worldwide, now than in our ancestor’s times.  (Although consider that an immigrant family may adopt a relative from “back home”.)

I have two grandchildren that were adopted:

One was adopted locally as a baby within the same state, after several sets of birth mothers/parents interviewed my daughter and her husband.

Many United States adoptions now are similar to this, but may be from any state.  I have been told by another adopting mom that the birth mother/parents may be indecisive until very late in the process.  What a hard decision.  Much better than the 1950s (and before) era of stigmatized pregnant teen girls  having to hide away in a  special “home”, working to earn their keep until the baby was 6 weeks old.  Then the babies were suddenly whisked away without a chance for the mothers to say goodbye.  The birth mother (and birth father) were barred from learning anything about their baby/child after being left in an orphanage or adopted

My daughter got a phone call from the adoption agency with this request from the parents that chose them, “Do you still want to adopt this baby.  He is two days old, and ready to go.”  My daughter and her husband had to pick up diapers, bottles and formula on their way to the hospital, as they had asked to adopt infant to 3 years old.  The adoption is not a sure thing until the final moment and had taken over a year.  The birth parents have kept in touch somewhat, and the birth grandmother more.

They decided to adopt locally, while waiting (3+ years) for their international adoption to go thru the bureaucracy. The second child was adopted from Ethiopia as a three year old.  His birth father had had to give him up because of extreme poverty, after his mother died, and he couldn’t afford to support his second wife and their baby.  She had to go back to her family village.  Minor mining and farming did not bring enough money to survive.

The boy had been in a foster home (with a different dialect) and then in an orphanage with a third dialect before he came home with my daughter to learn English ( a fourth language).

She and her husband had gone to meet the boy, and she went to pick him up with a friend. She was lucky that an internationally traveling African man at the airport helped her talk with the boy, and taught her more key phrases than what she had been given. You only hear a slight accent now in his speech.

The Ethiopian adoption agency made sure that his birth father had the opportunity to say goodbye to him.  They also video-recorded the father telling about himself and his family for the boy to watch later.  It has transcriptions in the several languages/dialects so he can understand it.

My grandson is also lucky that he gets to visit one of his friends from the orphanage that was adopted within driving distance.

Both sons are doing wonderfully as part of a loving family of three other (birth) children.

Here are some helpful links to understand and search for adoptions:

International Soundex Reunion Registry ISRR       “www.isrr.org/index.htm”

Phone 1-88-886-ISRR (4777)

A Soundex helps you figure out a name that has many possible spellings.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families   “wilawlibrary.gov/topics/familylaw/adoption.php”

Find out as much as you can about the adoption laws and customs of that historical period.

Google Translate APP –  to download from your smartphone app store.  You can say or spell words and it will translate verbally, and in writing from your choice of several languages.  This can help you in translating documents from the “old country” as well as facilitating communication with someone with another  language.

Pronunciator  “http://learning.pronunciator.com/getstarted.php?library_id=20217” , a language learning database on the Beloit Public Library homepage that is only available to BPL library card holders.



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