Grandma's Picture Box

Reunions … and Angels

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This week, I was fortunate enough to be a part of two family reunions.  I would love to take complete credit and pat myself on the back here, but I really can’t. 

In the first situation, Roy, the husband of a co-worker has been trying to figure out what happened to Veronica, a woman who was his stepmother for about three years when he was young.  She and his father eventually divorced, but Veronica made a real impression on Roy and he always wondered what became of her. Roy’s wife, my co-worker, knew about my “picture reunion” hobby and asked if I thought I could find anything.  I was able to find out that Veronica passed away in 1979, but the story didn’t end there.  Based on information in an online news article about a mine explosion in 1947 and a monument built in the town, we were able to determine that several of Veronica’s siblings are still alive.  Roy took this information and boldly made a couple of telephone calls, and Veronica’s brothers and sister were thrilled to hear from him!  I found information, but he took a leap of faith and made the call.  Good for you, Roy! 

In the second situation, another co-worker was part of a conversation I was having about locating the family of an old photo album.  She told me she was adopted as an infant, and asked if I thought it was possible to use that same kind of research to locate her birth mother.  The family story was that her mother was a 16-year-old who met a British soldier in Chicago in 1944, got pregnant, and had twins in 1945, whom she gave up for adoption (my friend and her brother).  I suggested that she request her original birth certificate (which arrived very quickly!), and with the information from that document, we were able to determine that the young woman was actually 20 years old at the time the twins were born.  We also learned that she had been married and divorced, and had given birth to two children prior to this pregnancy, and that she had a also subsequent marriage.

As part of my initial search, I posted an inquiry on the message boards at Ancestry.com.  A “research angel” named Heather contacted me with some information, and then she began to run with it – and boy! did she run!!  For two days, I got e-mails all day long from Heather, who was, in her own words, “hotter than a firecracker”!!  Based on the information we got from Heather, we were able to follow up and find out that my friend’s birth mother is still very much alive and active, at age 88.  My friend took a chance, called the woman, and confirmed her identity – and will be traveling to meet her birth mother for the very first time next week !! 

This adoption reunion would never have been possible without the abundant kindness of a perfect stranger named Heather, about whom I know nothing other than her e-mail address.  So I am using this public forum to thank her as profusely as I know how.  The gift she has given my friend is immeasurable, and I was honored to work alongside her and be one of the beneficiaries of her mad research skillzz … what she helped us accomplish was life-changing. 

So, thank you, Heather … and thank you to all of you who reach out in this way, simply from a love of the hunt and a generosity of spirit.  Angels do exist, and they are YOU !!

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