Back at Last - Have You Thought About Your Library As A Resource?

>> Saturday, November 19, 2011

I had a long vacation and just did not get back into the blog writing groove.
Have you thought about the resources your local and university library have for you. I use them a lot.
Local Library Resources -
My local library - King County Library System in Washington has hundreds of data bases. Many that with your library card id you can just log in and use. A few that because of licensing you have to go in to use.
The is usually a category list and many databases under each one. Of particular note is: (you usually have to go to the library to use this one)
Newspaper archives including state wide newspapers not found elsewhere.
Heritage Quest
New York Times Historical Articles 1857-2001
19th Century Newspapers
World Wide Vital Records
American Indian History and Culture
and many more sources.

In the University of Washington Library you can search on the UW collections but also on universities world wide. I have found this particularly useful for college yearbooks and masters theses.

The best part of most library websites is the ability to ask a librarian a question and receive a fairly quick response. Some libraries even have chat facilities. They can tell you where to find resources - I recently found that there are commencement lists of UW classes, they will usually look things up and copy material for you - sometimes there is a small fee for material and very occasionally for hourly cost, but they have always been very reasonable.

Most libraries maintain obituaries of people in their area. The Rochester NY library for example has life event lists where volunteers have taken births, deaths and marriages from newspapers and made a large database. It is worth contacting a library in an area you are working on to see what additional resources they have and if you are not a member of that library ask if there is a way you can get access to the information.

Librarians are for the most part great researchers. Use their skills.

Until next time.


The Courage to Search

>> Saturday, April 16, 2011

When someone finally reaches out and makes the search commitment, I understand that it is a decision not lightly taken.
It takes a lot of courage to really bite the bullet. We see a lot of people on lists who are lurking trying to get up that courage. In looking, you are really exposing yourself to that fear of rejection again. Is the hope of discovering the truth of your birth family worth the risk? People who have even found things that they do not like, being born in jail, parents deceased, drug use, etc., say that knowing is better than not knowing. That there is a certain peace and completeness to their life having found out.
Of course, we have lots of good reunions as well.
I search even though I am not one of the adoption triad, because I feel that this country treats adoptees unfairly. I do not think that anyone should be discriminated against by the government; adoptees and also birth parents definitely are. I have truly enjoyed doing my family genealogy. It is important for me to know where I came from. Adoptees do not have that option. I sometimes give adoptees the start of a family tree once I resolve the identity problem.
Having medical information is becoming more and more important.
But what actually spurs me the most is that nobody should have these things withheld from them.
So for those of you lurkers, dive in. It is YOUR information, you deserve to have what everyone else has in the way of access and rights.
I wish there was no need for adoption, but as long as there is, I hope to get many more calls that say “for the first time I saw someone who looks like me”.

This was written and posted on This is a list dedicated to helping people in the Pacific Northwest and California who are looking to reunite with birth family members.


Another Reunion Search Story

>> Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It has been a while since I posted. This is an older case, but still one of my favorite. I thought I had found her mother and then waited 3 hours to hear from her. I picked up the phone to hear - "I just got off a 3 hour phone call with my mother!" Here is Polly Jones' story in her own words.

I have always known I was adopted.  My name is Polly Jones and I am 56. I was born October 10, 1954 in San Francisco.  After many years of waffling, trying to decide, do I look or don't I for my birth Mother.  I was adopted when I was only a few weeks old through The Children's Home Society and raised by the best parents and a loving sister who is 8 years older.  But as I got older, I got curious.  As an adult, I had decided to search and got some information from the Children's home.  My family name was Sirak and all were healthy.  My birth mother was 26 when I was born.  I also tried a search company Omnitrace who also gave me some information, I was born Suzanne Maire Ryles.  They had told me there were many daughters in the family and all close in age so they did not know which one gave birth to me.  These bits of information were very exciting to know. 

Then one day in August 2008, I was looking for a Yahoo Group and my search brought the list up alphabetically and the 1st one was Adoption Search Angels.... that had to be a sign...I searched the site and found that people wrote the information about themselves or a person they were searching for and one of the Angels took that information and really dug deep into their resources and found answers from the entries I was reading.   I took the chance.  I put in everything I had gathered and pushed the 'enter' button,,, and waited... It was not more than an hour and I had my angel, Diane Harman-Hoog.... I was ecstatic that my story was actually going to be researched. 

We communicated daily about information she had found, people I needed to call to find the right Sirak family.  She gave me so many leads to call to try to find family dynamics that could fit my situation.  I was no nervous making those calls.  All the people I called were very helpful and curious about what I was doing... all wished me good luck and gave me information on their Sirak family,,,that was my part of the search.  Added into my Angel mix was Diane's friend, Marilie Auger who did a lot of the history of the family, newspaper articles, obituaries and marriages in the Sirak family. 

Then that fateful day, after 2 weeks of emails and phone calls, I got multiple emails and calls from Diane and I knew something had been discovered. .  She was pretty sure she had found the right Sirak family and my mother's name is JoAnne. She is the oldest of 5 children, 1 younger sister 4 brothers. She gave me phone number to call in Florida  Now I had jumping beans inside.  What if I found her?  What would her reaction be?  Growing up, I always had one statement that I wanted to tell my birth mother.  "I was raised by a great family. This is what I always wanted you to know."   As I got older, I wanted her to know I have 2 daughters and a granddaughter. 

I called the number with shaking hands and it rang and rang and I got a generic answering machine.  This was not something you leaving and a message.  I called over 2 days and got the same machine.  I asked Diane what should I do.  She said to call her brother.  OMG!!  So I called James Sirak,  he answered.  I could barely speak. 
"I said my name is Polly Jones and I was working on a genealogy search for a client and I was looking for the Sirak family that has 2 daughters and 5 son's.  (we found out another brother had been born after I was)  Is this your family dynamics?"  "Yes it is." James replied.  "I am looking for the oldest sister and if I could have her name?"  James said "No, but if you give me your information, I will have her call you."  So I gave him my information and told him Thank You very much and wondered,,, will she call?  That was the longest 3 minutes of my life.  My phone rang and it was her.  She said "As soon as Jimmy told me there was a call from from San Francisco, she knew it was me." I gave her my original message after all these years and 3 hours later we were still talking...  I found out where my green eyes came from, her.  She and her husband, who had passed 4 years before, had 5 children, 3 daughters and 2 sons.  Their middle daughter has my same birth date, 4 years later.  All her girls were 2 years apart including me.  Now I as the oldest of 6... How cool!!!   All of her children have children so my gut feeling that I had siblings was true.  We said "I Love You" so many times during that 1st 3 hour conversation.  She emailed me her picture and I did the same.  Oh how we looked alike... Finally I have a family I resemble, and also for my girls.   We found out so much about each other.  She lives in Tennessee,  but she was in Florida when she got pregnant and came to San Francisco to stay with an Aunt and Uncle.  After I was born, she stayed in San Francisco, got a job and met her husband, who was from Salinas.  After they were married on October 29th, 1955, their 1st daughter Jenny, was also born in San Francisco.  October 29th is also the same date my adopted parents were wed in 1944.  After the earthquake in 1957, there left San Francisco.  JoAnn asked me how I got the name Polly from Suzanne?  My parents had changed it to Polly Ann.  Like me, we have thought about each other every day,, wondering.  Now that was all over.

Within the next month, JoAnne had told her children, about me.  They were shocked that she could keep the secret for 55 years.  Jenny told her "Where is she?  Let's go meet her"  So last September,  JoAnne and Jenny came to San Francisco for our reunion.  The first meeting at the airport, was indescribable.  We couldn't stop hugging and smiling.  It was looking at myself!  We are so much alike, same temperament, same sence of humor, same eyes.  It as spending time with my best friend.  We spent hour talking and trying to catch up on everything we had not said on the phone and almost daily emails.  Jenny arrived a couple of days later and it started over again.  We look so much alike, there was no doubt we were sisters.  

We spent time in the city, finding the apartment the 3 of them had lived in, the church where JoAnne and Richard had been married in, just reliving where they worked and walked as they got to know each other.  Pictures galore.  We had a story to tell and we did just that.  To the  people on the Cable Car, waitresses, busboys,  not every one, but a few chosen ones who were all so happy for us.  I remember a young busboy at a restaurant in Tiburon, we talked to, it brought tears to his eyes.  He had never hard anything like our story.  We were so touched by his emotion. 

We 3 all text, and email and keep up with all of the going's on... I plan to go to Tennessee this year to meet the rest of the family.  Jenny travels a lot in her profession, so I am planning a trip to Colorado where she is currently working in February or March. 

During one of our conversations while we were walking around, Mom was talking about telling her kids about me and Jenny said something about Mom spilling the beans.  I asked if I was the beans, Yes,,that was me.  So she gave me the nickname, of course, Beans.  I love it... 

Suzanne Marie Ryles, aka Polly Jones


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