A Successful Search Still in Progress - The "Williams" Family

>> Friday, June 18, 2010

Here are 4 of the 5 Williams sisters, #5 is yet to be found and they will not stop looking until they are all together. One sister born in 2/21/1957, location unknown, is still to be found.

There had been 6 siblings. One brother, Robert Lee Williams died in 1954 in New Mexico. The reunited siblings are: Roberta "Ann" born 1/27/1950 in Odessa TX, Bonnie Sue born in 1951 in Espanola NM, Betty Marie born 1953 in Oklahoma City, Ella Louise, now "Sandra" born in Denver CO in 1956. The parents were Evelyn Louise Johnson (maiden name) Williams born 3/16/1920 in Lafayette Louisiana and Robert Williams born 10/13/1915 in Coushatta, Red River Parish, Louisiana.

Betty talks about the search for her sisters:
I remember several things of our lives together and the other girls remember even more. All I know is that I was crushed when they took my sisters away from me. As I remember it, I was the last to go.
I have been looking since I could start looking- 18 years old. I never knew what direction to go until a friend told me how to get my non-identifying info. I wrote for it and when it arrived, I picked it up at the postoffice and sat there in the parking lot and read every word. I was stunned, amazed, happy, sad and finally surprised- I was told that our mom and dad visited us several times and that mom came one last tima alone. I found out then that I had two sisters we never knew. I bought a program to help search, Big Hugs" and it told me when and where to write for more info. I wrote every letter they suggested and hit brick walls time after time. My Aunt Polly was a Godsend. She is the family researcher who got me to where I am today. She found census reports and listings that helped me get here.
Roberta, Bonnie and Betty

In 2004, while taking a Sunday drive, my husband and I started talking about this listing he had seen on Ebay where a lady was selling Hershey Kisses to help earn money for nursing school. He and I looked at each other and said, "we can do that". I wrote our story up and listed it along with our story for $4.95. I had to add an item to include so at first I added Christmas stockings, then on the next listing I added Valentine suckers. I didn't get any good leads but met a lot of people who wanted to help me. I still have most of their emails and I try to keep them up on our search. In December, Lunzeta Chretien- Monroe NewsStar called for an interview and from her story, I found Bonnie.

In 2007 Brandon (Sandra's son) responded to an adoption registry listing. Aunt Polly had put her email address on this listing so she sent it to me. I replied and the rest is a thousand pages of emails and many tears, Sandra (Ella Louise) was connected to us. We met on December 1, 2007.

I am thankful every day that God gave me my sisters back., Roberta was found by Brandon and Search Angel Diane in May 2010 and maybe even another- the youngest. None of them has ever seen the youngest.

A local TV stationed featured their search - http://www.knoe.com/global/story.asp?s=12566288  check it out.

Someone, somewhere knows something. We have found no trace of Evelyn. If any one can help please post a comment to that effect.


How Do I Get Help in My Search?

>> Thursday, June 10, 2010

There are volunteers called Search Angels. These are people who have been involved in a search of their own or who, like me, just want to help with this social injustice.

Many Search Angels belong to a number of groups. I personally belong to these yahoo groups - the registry, NYadoptees, Adoption Search Angels, searching-in-texas, nwasr (Pacific Northwest Searches) and to about.com. I am on hiatus from G's list. Most of these links are shown on the right hand side of this page. If you join one of those yahoogroups, you will have contact not only with Search Angels but also with others who are making the same journey as you are or who have already found their birth family,

If it is a medical emergency such as a transplant or the doctor needs more family information for a serious illness, apply for help at EMLA (http://www.adoption-free-search.org). There a team will swing into action to do the search.

Search Angels volunteer their time and money for these searches. One search can take hundreds of hours, although sometimes we are lucky and a simple look-up can do it, That is the exception. EMLA on the web site above takes donations to help offset the cost of subscription to various databases, If you can manage even a very few dollars, give a little to the cause. Many Search Angels from different groups ask the Search Angels on this group to help look something up, so no matter where your Search Angel is from, he or she may be taking advantage of these donations to get your information.

Theregistry, a yahoo group, is an excellent group with thousands of members. Even if you are doing the search yourself, join this group. Joan, the moderator, has added many files and links that are very valuable to the searcher. For example, Joan has added information that is specific to getting information in every state. Even as an experienced searcher, I start most searches by checking Joan's files. If your search is in NY state, Joan also moderates this group and has many files and links specific to NY. Having scary thoughts about being rejected, nervous about a reunion, or need to find out where to look for an obituary, These are the groups for you

Please take advantage of the state registry that the state that processed your adoption probably hosts. They can match up birth family members who register with them. Also http://isrr.net is a worldwide registry. There are a few more listed to the right of this message, Use them. Register your search, Check back frequently to see if there are more entries that might be for you. They have lots of success.

Ask for help! We have seen it before, we have heard it before. We will keep your information private if you wish,

Good luck in your search


What Do I Do With All This Data?

>> Wednesday, June 9, 2010

As you proceed with your search, you are going to be collecting a lot of information. This is how I track and make sense of what I find.
Number 1 Rule
Save everything you find including where you found it. After searching for months, you do not want to realize that you saw something on day #1 that you can use now and have to find it all over again.
Number 2 Rule
Every person you rule out puts you one closer to the truth.
Number 3 Rule
Stop and go over what you have. Analyze it. Read it out loud to someone, draw mind maps. Analyze it frequently this is when the brainstorms appear.

Useful Tools
Snag it
I use a software package called Snag-it. It costs about $40. The only software on my computer that I use more is my email and my browser. If you have a Mac or use Vista, the capability to snip and copy bits of information and pictures is built in. Check it out.
This is what it looks like:

You highlight any picture or text you want to copy. You can add arrows or do other editing and then save it as a file or copy it into a document

Word Processor
I use MS Word but any word processor will work. Start the document with the name of who you are researching. Save it to a folder in your documents folder. (i.e.if I am searching for Sandy Adams mother, both this file and the folder I put it in are called Sandy Adams.
Add the email address you need to contact whoever you are working with.
Add the phone number and any other contact info you need.
Then save copy of the initial email or a summary of the search.
From now on start adding subtitles for sections such as BIRTH FATHER, SISTER
and copy everything that you find that pertains to that title info that section. Include sources.
This document should be a record of your search, so if you go on vacation for a couple of months, you will see exactly what you have done so far.

Word Processor - document #2 or Spreadsheet
If your word processor can contain tables, insert a table into the document. Basically this is done by choosing Insert and then Table or choosing table and then "insert table."
Take the non-ID and isolate every statement like this
This is the document you will check and recheck and add things to and delete from. This is the basis of your analysis and often the difference between success and failure.

Spreadsheet Document
Keep a list of everyone you investigate
Include name, contact information, places they have lived, possible relatives and your conclusion about the person

Optional - 4th document or a card file program. Microsoft has a free one. I use Azz Card file
I use a cardfile program but you could also use a spreadsheet or document
This is where I put sources like = California birth records are on ancestry.com
OR place to write for non-ID

Online Folder
Any other thing  like the non-ID documents, articles, etc that you come across should also go in this folder.

Summary Table
A final touch. I keep a table with "clients" I am helping, contact info, the birth date and relationship they are looking for, I note when the case is closed. Once a month I go to the larger registry sites and check the dates against the entries.

Mind mapping - My last technique - think with a pencil and paper. Draw a picture of your search. Put the goal in the middle in a circle and draw lines into the circle from the major pieces of information you have to get to make that happen. Put a square around each major piece of information. Draw arrows into the squares saying where that data might come from.

Good luck with your search. Sooner or later all that data will start to make sense.


How to Start Your Search for Birth Family

>> Sunday, June 6, 2010

 I am Search Angel Diane. I have been a Search Angel for about 2 years and have had around 30 reunions due to information I have found. I am a researcher and teacher at heart so I want to share some ideas with you that have been successful for me.

Some of the Search Angels have been looking for a way to educate other Search Angels and to get information to people who are looking on their own for birth family members. There are lots of support groups (online and local) and as well as many resources available. There are also many registries where you can register your search. I have listed the ones I check first when I get a new search for someone. Please add others in your comments and I will put them on your links. Only free registries for this list, please. I will investigate paid registries later. What I hope to do here is to help you decide where to go next in your search and to pick the best resources I know of.

So you are about to search for your birth family member or perhaps you have been searching for a long time to no avail. It  is very painful for me to start a search for someone who has been looking for 35 years and to get a hit within a few minutes, just because the person did not know what was available. As a Search Angel you may know some of these things, but a checklist might help. As we add posts we will  get to some more complicated methodologies and searches.

First of all very few searches are totally impossible. There are some that may prove to be that way, but it takes a while to really determine that. In a very few cases, the answer is almost immediate. In some cases it can take years. Most cases are in between, probably taking a month or two to search.

Your first steps:
•    Check online registries to see if someone is already searching for you. Be flexible. I hate to tell you this, but some people do not have an accurate memory of time and place. Dates (even years may be wrong) and places mistaken. For example, someone who thinks she may have given birth in St Paul, may have even given birth in Minneapolis.
•    See if you are in an open birth certificate state. The list is growing. There are sometimes some restrictions. There is a list (courtesy of EMLA) on which states are open (or kind of) at the bottom of this post.. In addition some counties in California are now open.
•     Register with http://www.isrr.net . You have to print out paper forms and mail them in.
•    Register with other adoption registries. There are a few listed at the side of this blog,
•    Ask for help. Join one of the online search and support groups - also listed at the side of this blog
•    Ask for a Search Angel. We can just look at your information and point you to resources or take a more active role inn your search, depending on your skills. You can ask through one of those online groups, through about.com or just search with Google. A Search Angel volunteers their time and resources to help you.
•    Check with your state and adoption agency to see if they issue non-identifying documents. You can search on state name plus adoption plus non-identifying document and see if you are eligible. Some states, like Louisiana, do not issue them. Some states, like New York, do not issue them to birth parents, but do to birth siblings. This document may really help in your search.
•    If you have a name then check these resources - all are free unless otherwise noted.
1.    Look up the name in http://www.usa-people-search.com or http://www.veromi.net. See places where the person may have lived - these are not in chronological order, get names of possible relatives and if you are really lucky, you might get maiden name or AKA names.
2.    Take those names and locations and go to http://www.pipl.com and see what you can find,. Sometimes you can even find Facebook or MySpace accounts listed there.
3.    Be sure to check Facebook and MySpace. You can do a detailed search on MySpace after your initial search. A box comes up on the right. Very useful. Also people in MySpace often list their birth sign so check that out if you know the birthdate.
4.    If you know the first name (or first name and middle name) check with http://www.dobsearch.com for people born on that date. Best if you search on a state by state basis.
5.    My last in this first set of hints is to do a Google search - Use the quotation marks indicated. Search on "firstname middlename lastname" then on "first name middle initial lastname" then "firstname lastname" and also "lastname firstname"
6.    Write down on copy every single piece of  information you get including the source. You do not want to realize in 6 months that you have seen that information somewhere and try to find it again.
Open Records States
Alabama - adoption records are open
Alaska - adoption records are open
Colorado - Adoptions records are open for adoptees whose adoptions were  finalized between 07/01/1951 to 06/30/1976 and 09/01/1999 to present.
Delaware - adoption records are open. Birth parents can sign a non contact veto
Indiana -adoption records prior to 1940 may be open
Kansas - adoption records are open
Maine adoption records are open
Massachusetts adoption records are open for birth years prior to 4/14/1974
Michigan - adoption records may be open for older births
Montana - adoption records are open for adoptions finalized prior to 2/2/1964
New Hampshire -adoption records are open
New Jersey - adoption records prior to 1940 may be open
Ohio - adoption records are open for adoptions finalized prior to 1/1/1964
Oregon - adoption records are open
Tennessee adoption records are open if finalized after 1951 birth parents have no contact veto available

Good luck with your search. Next post will cover methodology and how to keep track of what you have found.


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