Equal Access to Adoptee’s Birth Certificate

Millions of adoptees across America have been denied a copy of their original Birth Certificate by an archaic law that has been in effect for the past 75 years. This law has created ANCESTRICIDE for millions of Adoptees which not only affect them, but their children and their children’s children. This is a disgrace in a free country that an adult individual cannot have access to their own Birth Certificate. Please support this petition and encourage your family and friends to do so.

SIGN THIS EXECUTIVE ORDER PETITION – Click anywhere in text to be directed to the petition web page.

Weathering God’s Winter Storm

My prayer for anyone living in the path of the winter storm, stay safe and warm.

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I used to live in Michigan and Ohio, and I remember storms with heavy, wet snow, black ice, and bone-chilling cold wind.

Even though we now live in Florida, I still get shivers up my spine when I see pictures of snow blizzards, icicles, and downed power lines.

Winter-storm-1-5-14-downed-pole

Just because we live in Florida, doesn’t mean I don’t think of you all.  Make that cup of hot chocolate, snuggle up underneath the afghan your grandmother crocheted, and think of it as God forcing you to take a day of rest to enjoy His beautiful weather!

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Happy New Year!

I want to wish everyone a very Happy and extremely Blessed New Year.  I pray that you and your families will build memories this year.  I pray that you will be comforted by any losses.  I pray that adoptees will be reunited with their birth families.  God bless you all!!

Adoptees Restoration Act

I’m re-posting this from Sandy Musser’s FaceBook page:

 

President Obama – How about a Christmas present for ALL ADOPTEES in our country!

A CALL FOR an ADOPTEES RESTORATION ACT

Adoption ALARM Network
Advocating Legislation for Adoption Reform Movement

We are ALARMED that ADOPTEES do not have a copy of their Original Birth Certificate!

We are ALARMED that ADOPTEES’ entire birth information has been altered, falsified and sealed for the past 75 years; thereby creating Legal Lies!

We are ALARMED that ADOPTEES do not have access to their Medical History, in light of 3000 known genetic diseases according to the National Center for Disease!

We are ALARMED that ADOPTEES are often given false and misleading information about their background by social workers, attorneys and other “helping professionals” in the field of adoption!

We are ALARMED that ADOPTEES are forced to pay agency fees to receive non-identifying information, state fees to be placed on a state registry; and attorney fees to petition the court system to receive what is already their inalienable right* – EQUAL ACCESS to their ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE!

We are ALARMED that ADOPTEES, by virtue of the adoption process, have been stripped of their ENTIRE HERITAGE AND CULTURE causing a malady known as ANCESTRICIDE which also affects their children and their childrens children!

We are ALARMED that, in a free and democratic society, all ADOPTED PERSONS in our country are denied these basic human rights guaranteed to all other Americans under the 13th and 14th Amendments and the Declaration of Independence.

14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any persons of life, liberty or due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – inalienable rights (cannot be transferred nor forfeited)

**************************************************************

Therefore, the Adoption Community calls for
an Executive Order
by the President of our United States for an

~ ADOPTEES RESTORATION ACT ~

Providing every Adult Adopted Person born within
the Jurisdiction of the U.S. of America
Equal Access to their
Original Birth Certificate

Based upon the 14th Amendment and the Declaration of Independence!

Happy Thanksgiving

I pray that all the adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving today.

If you are still searching, hang in there. Keep going. Persevere. Your day will come when you will be reunited with your birth families.

Happy Thanksgiving.

An Adopted Woman’s Journey Back to Her Roots

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First shipment just arrived.  So exciting.  Click on image to order yours today

The Move

Here is an excerpt from my book, The Special Chosen One:

“The possibility crossed my mind that maybe we were moving to get farther away from my birth mother.

Before we packed up and left, I searched for clues:

Instead of praying with my head bowed in church, I opened my eyes, raised them just enough to look around, spied on people to see if another woman looked at me—then I’d know she was my birth mother.

Standing around the corner of our kitchen, I eavesdropped when my mom talked on the phone—a whispered voice served as a sign she’s talking to my birth mother.

Riding in the car, if my mom slowed down as we passed a woman on the sidewalk, I promptly noted her physical features, because if she was short, with dark hair and dark eyes like me, and if she even slightly appeared like she was gifted with a high IQ, then she’s definitely my birth mother.”

Book Cover FRONT - JPEG

Adoptee Book Release This Month

Be on the lookout for this book release

in November. 

Book Cover FRONT - JPEG

We are almost there!

To Prison With Love for Adoption Reunions

Twenty years ago today one of our own went to prison for the “crime” of reuniting adoptees and birth families.  Sandy Musser is considered to be the civil rights pioneer for the adoptive rights movement. We should have been celebrating her efforts for reconnecting families.  But instead the government used their flagrant abuse of power, laced with lies, to carry out an indecent indictment.

Let us never forget those who have suffered in their efforts to bring reform to the discrimination of adoptees by sealing their birth records forever.

Read more about Sandy Musser on her web page  www.sandymusser.com

Adoption Detective

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land.  Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person.

Her book “Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child” is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult.

“Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand children are forever and always.” –Judith Land

Check out her blog here —–>   Judith Land Blog

National Adoption Awareness Month

Next month, November, is the National Adoption Awareness Month.

A time to give thanks for the blessings of adoption.

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children:

One is roots,

The other is wings.

     – Hodding Carter –

The Special Chosen One – Adoptee Reunited

An Adopted Woman’s Journey Back to Her Roots

Watch the trailer video of my memoir

TO BE PUBLISHED next month November 2013

Click Here —->   THE SPECIAL CHOSEN ONE


An Adoptee Reunited with Birth Family

 

Do NOT click on any ads which may be posted below by WordPress

Book Preferences

BIRTH PARENT WISH

OK.  Maybe today I’ll get a better response than the last two days.

If you are a birth parent, and you could change one law regarding adoption, what would you change?

Please post your comments.

ADOPTIVE PARENTS’ WISH

Wow, only one comment on the adoptee’s wish.

 

Today, let’s try adoptive parents.  To all you adoptive parents, if there was one thing you could change about the law regarding adoption, what would it be?

Please post comments.  And have a very blessed day.

Millions Touched by Adoption

There are approximately 5 million adoptees, which are in the center, 10 million birth parents and 10 million adoptive parents, add brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc., and at least 135,000,000 people are affected by adoption.

This is NOT counting spouses, children, grandchildren, in-laws, or friends of adoptees.

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When You Don’t Know

WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW

College Thesis by Amy Christine Pohorence

Prior to the First World War, original birth certificates of adoptees were public domain. Since the majority of those who were adopted were the result of illegitimate G.I. war romances, it was felt such records should be sealed. An adopted child would be able to start life in his adoptive home with a “clean slate.”  The original certificate was then sealed and vaulted, never to be opened again. Glenn (1979) feels that “the ‘clean slate’ theory was filled with good ideas, but it failed to consider one very important point:  natural curiosity. Until fairly recent times, psychologists held the view that an adoptee who asked questions about his genetic background was neurotic and unappreciative. Now behavioral scientists are beginning to accept the curiosity as normal” (p.7). Every person wants to know about himself, adopted or otherwise.

The consequences of adoption affects a variety of people in different phases of life. The first person involved is the birth mother, who has made a choice to surrender her baby for adoption. The second person involved is the innocent baby who is available for adoption. The third persons involved are the adoptive parents, who adopt the baby. In the final phase is the adult adoptee, who starts the search back to the beginning to find the birth mother.

The first person involved in the adoption process is the birth mother. Relatively little is known of the impact of adoption on their subsequent life. The results of three studies conducted by Deykin (1984) “indicate that child surrender remains an issue of conflict and intrapersonal difficulty even years after the adoption” (p.272). They know the pain of loss they fear because they live with that pain and loss every day of their lives.

To ascertain whether the surrender of a child continued to be an issue of importance, Deyk (1984) “asked respondents to indicate whether at any time they had considered searching for their surrendered child. The vast majority (96%) responded affirmatively, and 65% indicated that they had actually initiated a search” (p.274). Recent polls in this country by Lifton (1981) “show that the majority of birth mothers favor open records, but this will not happen until society recognizes that the right of the child takes precedence over the right of any dissenting adult” (p.272). As agonizing as the decision is to choose adoption, Dusky said (1979), “When I signed that paper, for whatever reasons, I had the option of making a choice” (p.170).

The second person involved in the adoption process is the child. To a child, any child, mama and daddy are the people who reared him. The facts of conception, labor, and delivery do not make parents. An adopted child views his parents as the people who loved and cared for him as he grew to adulthood. Should he decide to begin a search for his biological heritage, he does not see such a search as an act of disloyalty. Adoptees whose entire genetic history is a frightening void may feel that something is missing, may hurt badly for its loss, but be unable to describe what it is that they want. “It is hard to imagine what you have never had, much less to explain why you need it” (Anderson, 1988).

“For people who are not adopted, it is equally hard to imagine what life would be like without facts as basic as knowing your name. It is hard to imagine not knowing whether your ancestors are Swedish, Irish, or Lebanese. Living without such knowledge is obviously possible, but it is certainly not at all usual or natural and it can be very painful” (Anderson, 1988, p.3).

All kids, whether adopted or children of divorced or deceased parents, have a right to know their origins. They should not be penalized for the way they have been conceived. The issue here is the child’s right to know his own history. “All children have a right to knowledge of their parentage, and no parent has the right to keep that truth from them” (Lifton, 1981, p.274). “Clinical studies have shown that adopted children seen in psychotherapy are more likely to be referred for behavior problems and to be diagnosed as having personality disorders or adjustment reactions” (Sorosky, Baran & Pannor, 1978, p.101). Under normal circumstances, one does not pay special attention to one’s genealogy; it is usually accepted as a matter of fact. “For adoptees, however, a lack of knowledge about their birth parents and ancestors can be a cause of maladjustment” (Sorosky, et.al., 1978, p.113).

The famous author and poet, Rod McKuen, writes about finding his birth father:

I don’t suppose unless you found yourself in the same circumstances or are very close to someone adopted or illegitimate, that I could tell you why I need to find my father; why no risk is too great and no amount of luxury or of material things or the satisfaction that comes from knowing there are certain things you can do and do pretty well, is enough to compensate for the gap back there somewhere that only one man in the world can fill” (McKuen, 1976, p.16).

The third persons involved in the adoption process are the adoptive parents. The whole idea of adoption itself is difficult for a child to grasp, and adoptive parents do not want the child faced with the prospect of two sets of parents. Adoptive parents feel threatened about the idea of the adoptee initiating a search for the birth parents. “Although most of them realize early in the adoption that such a possibility exists, most dread it and do not know how to deal with it. these parents fail to realize that such a search has nothing to do with the relationship between them and their adopted children” (Glenn, 1979). A close look reveals that it is the adoptive parents, not the birth mothers, who are struggling to keep the records closed. It is the adoptive parents who are frightened of losing their children, not the birth mothers who are frightened of being found” (Lifton, 1981, p.272).

The final phase of the adoption process is the search. There are many reasons for searching. The first is a sense of self. An adoptee is a link in a chain that starts with himself. Regardless of how much he loves his adoptive family, family reunions and genealogy discussions leave him with an awkward sense of rootlessness.

The second reason adoptees search is medical history. He does not know if he has a tendency to any physical or mental disability unless he is already afflicted. He does not know if he has an inherited trait that could affect his children or their children. “Records have been opened to adults with life-threatening medical problems when they have been closed under other circumstances. And even these records are limited to ‘nonidentifying’ information” (Glenn, 1979, p.29).

The third reason is simply a right to know. No other group of adults in this country is subject to restrictions placed on them as infants and children. “Several organized groups of adoptees are filing class action suits on this point, arguing that closed birth records are in violation of the 14th Amendment and, therefore, unconstitutional” (Glenn, 1979, p.29).

Just as parents love all of their children, children can love all of their parents. Finally fitting the birth family into an adoptee’s life means the adoptee can also more clearly see and appreciate where his adoptive family fits. The adoptee and his adoptive family can better appreciate what they do have together when they are no longer worried about what they do not share.

Anderson (1988) summarizes, “When you begin your search, you embark on a journey every bit as exciting and frightening as a voyage to unknown lands across uncharted seas. It is a journey in which you cannot be sure of what new lands you will discover. Fears and uncertainties may make it a strenuous journey. What is certain about it is that it will contain surprises and it will challenge you. It will challenge your views. You may not find everything you were looking for, or you may find much more than you dared hope for. You will never be quite the same person again, because facing your fears and searching bring growth” (Anderson, p.26).

Searching many times brings one to endless dead-ends. “Imagine searching for something for 20 years….something that means more to you than anything else in the world. Imagine being turned away from every conceivable source….From hospital record rooms, courthouses, doctors’ and lawyers’ offices….Turned away by the people who hold the key to your very identity. I am going to beat this thing if it takes until the day I die. Nobody is going to tell me that I have no right to the things they take for granted. I am going to beat the sealed records. I am going to find my mother and father” (Fished, 1974, p.91).

All of these factors stated above take into consideration the adoption triangle of the birth mother, adoptee, and adoptive parents. It seems that the most anguish is experienced in the life of the adoptee who does not have any blood connection. The adoptee who begins the search is doing so not just out of idle curiosity, but he is looking for some blood tie. Normally how a person smiles or talks or laughs is taken for granted. The adoptee is looking for someone to relate to. “When you know, it means nothing; when you don’t know, it means your life” (Fisher, 1974, p.90).

References

Anderson, C.J. (1988). Thoughts to Consider for
Newly Searching Adoptees
. Des Moines,
Iowa: Concerned United Birthparents, Inc.
Deykin, E.Y. (1984). The Post-Adoption Experience of
Surrendering Parents
. Des Moines,
Iowa: Concerned United Birthparents, Inc.
Dusky, L. (1979). Birthmark. New York: M. Evans &
Company, Inc.
Fisher, F. (1974). The Search for Anna Fisher.
New York: Fawcett Crest.
Glenn, P. (1979). Adoptee’s Roots: Is There A Right
To Know?
Centerville, Ohio:
Pamphlet Publications.
Lifton, B.J. (1981). Lost and Found: The Adoption
Experience
. New York: Bantam
Books, Inc.
McKuen, R. (1976). Finding My Father.
Los Angeles, California: Cheval Books.
Sorosky, A.D., Baran, A., & Pannor, R. (1978).
The Adoption Triangle: The Effects of
the Sealed Record on Adoptees, Birth Parents,
and Adoptive Parents
. Garden City,
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday.

Legacy of an Adopted Child

LEGACY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD

Author Unknown

Once there were two women
          Who never knew each other.

One you do not remember,
          The other you call mother.

Two different lives
          Shaped to make yours one.

One became your guiding star,
          The other became your sun.

The first gave you life
          And the second taught you to live in it.

The first gave you a need for love
          And the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality,
          The other gave you a name.

One gave you the seed of talent,
          The other gave you aim.

One gave you emotions,
          The other calmed your fears.

One saw your first sweet smile,
          The other dried your tears.

One gave you up – It was all she could do.
          The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.

And now you ask me through your tears,

          The age-old question through the years:

          Heredity or environment – Which are you the product of?

Neither, my darling – neither,

          Just two different kinds of love.

Search Tip – READ

10. READ, READ, READ

Read everything you can about adoption, searching, and reunions. Each search is a voyage and it will change you forever. You need to be informed and prepared for the emotional ride you are about to embark on.

You can search on line for innumerable books on the subject. Below are just a few to get you started:

Adopted Break Silence, The. Jean Paton
Adopted Woman, An. Katrina Maxtone-Graham
Adoptee Trauma. Heather Carlini
Adoption Searchbook, The. Mary Jo Rillera
Adoption Encounter. Mary Jo Rillera
Adoption Reunions. Michelle McColm
Adoption Triangle, The. Annette Baran, Reuben
Pannor, Arthur D. Sorosky
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self.
Schechter & Henig Brodzinsky
Birth Bond: Reunions Between Birthparents &
Adoptees. Judith Gediman & Linda P. Brown
Birthright: The Guide to Search & Reunion for
Adoptees, Birthparents, and Adoptive Parents.
Jean A.S. Strauss
Dear Birthmother, Thank You For Our Baby.
Kathleen Silber & Phylis Speedlin
Faces of Adoption. E. Lynn Giddens
Family Secrets: A Writer’s Search for His Parents
& His Past. David Leitch
Giving Away Simone. Jan Waldron
Halfway Home: Contact & Reunion Guidelines.
Lynn-Claire Davis
How It Feels To Be Adopted. Jill Krementz
I Would Have Searched Forever. Sandra K. Musser
I’m Still Me. Betty Jean Lifton
In Search of A Stranger. Warren E. Siegmond
Journey of the Adopted Self. Betty Jean Lifton
On the Outside Looking In. Michael Reagan & Joe
Hyams
Origins.
Orphan Voyage. Jean Paton
Other Mother, The. Carl Schafer
Primal Wound, The. Nancy Verrier
Reunion Book, The. Mary Jo Rillera
Search For Anna Fisher, A. Florence Fisher
Second Choice: Growing Up Adopted.
Robert Anderson
Synchronicity & Reunion: The Genetic Connection
of Adoptees & Birthparents.
LaVonne Harper
To Prison With Love. Sandy Musser
Where Are My Birth Parents?
Karen Gravelle & Susan Fisher
Which Mother Is Mine?  Joan Oppenheimer
Who Is My Mother?  Clare Marcus

Adoption Search & Support Groups

9. SEARCH AND SUPPORT GROUPS

Find and join a local search and support group. They will give you help, support, and encouragement. Some groups teach you how to do your own search by giving individual advice in each search. Get your support network in place before you need it. Be prepared that you will not always be clear-headed about what is happening to you. If you go into it knowing something about what happens in search, you will survive it more easily.

Many support groups have been organized. A very important step is to join a support group in the area where you live to give you the support you will need when you are down and a pat on the back when you are up. They know the organizations to contact to get information. Also, the emotional strain that goes with a search is something that you should not go through by yourself.

You can do a search on line for numerous groups, either locally or on the Internet. Below is a list of just a few to get you started:

American Adoption Congress
http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/search_faq.php

Adoption.com
http://adoptees.adoption.com/

Adoption Healing
https://www.adoptionhealing.com/

Adoptee-Birthparent Support Network
http://adopteebirthparentsupportnetwork.org/

Adoption Database
http://www.adoptiondatabase.org/

Adoptees’ Support Forum
http://www.adopting.org/ffcwnr.html

Adoption Search & Reunion Support Groups in Canada
http://www.familyhelper.net/ft/ftsup.html

How To Investigate
http://howtoinvestigate.com/adoption.htm

Yahoo Adoption Search and Reunion Groups
http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/dir/1600768591

Native American Adoptee Search Tip

8. BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a federal agency acting on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. In the majority of cases where contact is made with Native American searches, the Bureau has been very courteous and helpful. Be prepared, in some instances, for a long waiting period, as they are usually short-staffed.

The United States Congress has said, “An alarmingly high percentage of Indian families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from the by nontribal public and private agencies and that an alarmingly high percentage of such children are placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes and institutions…”

The federal government passed the “Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978,” also known as Public Law 95-608. This Act provides the Native American adoptees with two major advantages in searching. It releases them from the restrictions of the sealed records laws enacted in most states. And it orders that substantial amounts of identifying information must be given to them on request.

The appropriate passages, Section 107 and Section 301(b), are as follows:

Section 107:  “Upon application by an Indian individual who has reached the age of eighteen and who was the subject of an adoptive placement, the court which entered the final decree shall inform such an individual of the tribal affiliation, if any, of the individual’s biological parents and provide such other information as may be necessary to protect any rights flowing from the individual’s tribal relationship.”

Section 301(b):  “Upon the request of the adopted Indian child over the age of eighteen, the adoptive or foster parents of an Indian child or an Indian tribe, the Secretary (of the Interior) shall disclose such information as may be necessary for the enrollment of an Indian child in the tribe in which the child may be eligible for enrollment or for determining any rights or benefits associated with that membership.”

The Act further provides, however, for the withholding of the name of a birth parent who has filed an affidavit with a state court stating a wish for anonymity.

On the state level, as stated in Section 107, the county court in which an adoption was finalized should be approached. Jurisdiction may be assigned to the Superior Court, the Probate Court, or the Juvenile Court. The county clerk’s office should be able to identify the appropriate court. The petition should be accompanied by a complete photocopy of the “Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978,” with attention drawn to relevant passages. Verification of an adoptee’s age should also be included; an amended birth certificate should suffice.

To determine whether a person is of Native American heritage, either a placement agency or whichever state office oversees adoptions in general, usually a department within state health or social services institutions, should be approached for such information. Alternatively, a letter to the Bureau requesting confirmation or denial of Native American status may suffice.

BONUS POINTS:  It is possible that state law in any given jurisdiction will support a Native American request for the opening of sealed records.

An Adoptee’s Thank You

First of all, I want to give all the praise and glory to my Lord and God, Jesus Christ. He gave me my first breath. He gave me the genetics of my birth family. He placed me in an exceptionally loving and nurturing adoptive home. He covered me with his wings through the years and protected me more than I will ever know.

Second, I want to thank my dear husband, Greg. God knew what He was doing when he put us together. You stood by me all these years, even when I didn’t deserve it. You also covered me with your love and affection, with your protection, and kept me from going over the edge many times; otherwise, I don’t know where I would be today.

I want to thank my daughters, Amy and Wendy, for putting up with my craziness and irrationalism during your lifetime, especially the times when I searched for my birth parents. I pray that my life experiences can be lessons for you and your children. I pray that you both find comfort and peace under God’s wings.

I thank my two dogs, Miya and Zee, for forcing me to walk away from my computer, when you would unceasingly bark and bark until I would let you outside to do your business. Tending to be a workaholic, I probably wouldn’t have taken any breaks if it weren’t for my two “girls.”

I thank my deceased birth mother and birth father for giving me life. I thank all their children my 12 half-siblings, for accepting me unconditionally into their families. I thank my deceased adoptive parents for relentlessly pursuing adoption until they were ultimately blessed with me. I thank them for their patience, their upright moral lifestyle, and their discipline.

My heredity from my birth parents, combined with the loving environment of my adoptive parents, all according to God’s plan, have shaped me into the person I am today.

Search Tip with Obituaries

7. OBITUARIES

Searching through obituaries can tend to be very time consuming. However, you can find valuable information when looking through the survivors of the deceased person.

For instance, if you have your birth mother’s name, you can assume that she has married or remarried, so then she will have a different last name that you know nothing about. If you search obituaries with her maiden surname, you might find her parent, a sibling, or other relative who is deceased. In reading through the survivors, many times you can get the names of other male relatives. In this case, you know the last names of the males have not changed through marriage. You can then begin searching for them and very often they can lead you to or give you information regarding your birth mother’s married name.

Plan on spending days, maybe even months, searching on line for obituaries. There are numerous web sites with obituaries and one web site will lead you to another one. Hang in there!

Public Records in Searching – Part 6

Churches

Church registries are bound ledgers or file card systems containing information documenting that individuals have received specific sacred rites – marriage, baptism, confirmation, etc. Sacraments are often given in order. Evidence of one may be required before another is administered. Under Roman Catholic procedure, in fact, sometimes a recent verification of baptism and Holy Communion is required before a priest will perform a wedding.

All Christian denominations maintain such records, including general membership, baptism, confirmation records, Sunday school records, marriage records, and death records. These ledgers or card files are generally organized first by sacrament and then by date. If you have an idea of what religion the birth parents or adoptive parents were, you should pursue this avenue.

Other Public Records

Divorce Records
Marriage Records
Death Records
Voter Registration

Public Records in Searching – Part 5

6. PUBLIC RECORDS

Real Estate Records

A county recorder’s office keeps careful track of documents associated with the legal formalities common to property transactions. While its duties most often focus on the purchase and sale of real estate, official responsibilities regularly extend to liens, trusts, conservatorships, easements, and an additional lengthy list of actions affecting the ownership and transfer of wealth and property.

A county assessor’s office is entrusted with the responsibility of establishing property tax assessments based on the estimated value of property. Documents in both of these municipal departments are efficiently organized and accessible to the public largely for commercial reasons. For example, a title search, undertaken for the purpose of determining if a piece of property is encumbered by liens or easements, will be conducted at the recorders, or a person interested in buying a specific parcel of land may identify its current owner at the assessors.

The opportunity for searchers here is marginal at best, limited to circumstances in which there is possible continued contact between a buy and a seller. This can occur, say, in circumstances in which a second mortgage is carried by the seller. This will in turn mean that the buyer will have to know the seller’s current address in order to make regular payments on the debt due. Still, we are admonished to leave no stone unturned, so let’s resurrect old city and telephone directories. Suppose, in a given city or county, these books reveal that birth relative resided at a specific address for a number of years. He or she may have owned the house at that address. Further, if his or her name disappears from the directory’s pages, this may indicate a move to another locality.

If a move did take place, any of a number of options may exist. If the birth relative is reasonably prosperous, he or she may continue to hold the property as a rental unit. The house may have been sold, with a second mortgage as part of the sale conditions. Or the house may have been subject to multiple sales, in which case a searcher, by tracing what is commonly referred to as a “chain of title,” may discover the name of a person who may have had some continued contact with the birth relative. Exploring these options calls for a visit to the assessor’s and recorder’s offices.

The assessor’s office houses only one document of interest, the “situs file.”  This is a simple listing, usually entered on microfiche or computer, organized alphabetically by address, identifying what real estate is owned by whom. These details are accompanied by such technical information as parcel numbers, deed numbers, and assessed property value.

A situs file is often also available at a counter in the recorder’s office. It will be in the presence of an abundance of bound volumes, microfilm, or on computer, containing the documentary history of recorded proceedings. These generally fall into two categories: grantor-grantee indexes and “Official Records” of a county.

The indexes are organized by year and then alphabetically by surname. The current owner of a property is regarded as the grantee. The entry corresponding to his or her name will further list the grantor’s name, plus an “Official Records” book number and page number, indicating precisely where deeds and other paperwork can be found. With luck, a birth relative will have been the grantor and plans can be made to approach the grantee for any possible search information.

With multiple property sales occurring after a birth relative’s name disappears from a city directory or old telephone book, a chain of title search should be undertaken. This requires merely recognizing that when a grantor first acquired a parcel, he or she would have been considered the grantee. From that perspective, the index process merely has to be repeated back through the years to the time in which a birth relative ceases to appear in city directories or old telephone directories.

The address of assessor’s and recorder’s offices are regularly listed in the white pages of the telephone directory under the general heading of county government offices.

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