Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Time for Celebration!!!

On Friday the birth records of adopted children born between 1964 and 1996 were opened to the public in Columbus, Ohio. It's about time!

I know it is a delicate subject and how you feel about access to these records can be an extremely personal thing, depending on where you are sitting on the branches of the family tree. Back in the 1960s, it was not a good thing to be an unwed mother. Pregnant teenage girls were hidden by their families. There were homes the girls lived in during their pregnancies. On the weekends they could go visit a family member who would hide them. Then the trip to the hospital, that long ride home without your child, and the secrets were kept by those who knew the truth. 

In 1963, Ohio lawmakers decided that all these birth records needed to be sealed forever. This meant that all of these children and their descendants would never have access to the records of their ancestors. Fortunately after years of hard work this law was repealed and Gov. John Kaisch signed into law the bill that eventually allowed adoptees access to their adoption records.

It should be noted, however, that these original birth records document the mother and child, but not necessarily the correct father. This was a topic of discussion at a recent genealogical society meeting. The question was raised about the possibility that the name of the father was changed by the mother for various reasons. But I suppose that  question could be raised for any birth certificate! But let's not worry about that right now. I am sure that will be a new brick wall that will be addressed in the near future. 

Right now I would just like to say to all of you who won this battle . . . . . 

Welcome To The Wonderful World of Genealogy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Her Ancestors Would Be Proud.

I read an article today that so inspired me as a widow. It was an article on the first page of The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, Sunday, March 8, 2015: "Drabik ponders spotlight after years as adviser."

Sandy Drabik is the widow of D. Michael Collins, Mayor of Toledo, Ohio,  who passed away five days after he suffered cardiac arrest during a major snowstorm on February 1, 2015. According to the article in the newspaper, Sandy was her husband's partner, adviser, shoulder to lean on. That person behind the curtain, not necessarily pulling the strings -- more like the one who gave him words of encouragement and believed in him. Now Sandy is considering putting her name out there and running for the office of Mayor in order to complete the work her husband started. I am so proud of her. What a strong woman.

It is not easy to recover from the sudden death of your husband. You go through all the stages of grief whether you want to or not. And sometimes you relive the event. When Mayor Collins was rushed to the hospital I began to relive the events that happened when my husband passed away. The few hours that my family went through turned into the five days that the Collins family experienced. It was like slow-motion. I felt he wasn't going to make it; I could see the similarities. 

There have been many women who have taken over where their husbands left off and continued the work that they, in reality, partnered together. I admire Sandy Drabik. Her ancestors would be proud. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Big Facebook Dining Room Table

This is a copy of a comment I posted on Facebook a few nights ago. 

"I am so glad to see all of you going through these pics and recognizing that you need to document who's who. From as far back as I can remember every holiday my aunts would get the big box of pictures out of the closet and we would all sit around the big dining room table and look at the family pictures. The kids would try to guess the identity of each relative and family friend. The aunts would tell us if we were correct and then add a story about each picture. It is so heart warming to see that this tradition is still alive."

I was not prepared for what happened next. Mystery. Memories. Hints. Sorrow. Hurt feelings. Questions. Very few answers. Stunned silence. And, a family that now begins the process of healing. 

First let me say this is not my family so I can be objective. On the other hand I have to be careful not to offend anyone. What really happened here was my husband's family gathered around the big Facebook dining room table to look at pictures from their past. And what a past it was. 

As my daughter was pulling pictures from a box, suddenly letters started falling out of the back of picture frames. Letters written fifty-some years ago that hinted at mysteries and memories from the past. As in all families, there were disagreements in my husband's family, but the possible origins were never exposed. Now comes the decision. To investigate further or to let it die with those who have passed on. 

One thing you may have noticed. Most family feuds are not inherited. In other words cousins don't have the same feelings of anger or hurt that their parents had. And over time the reasons for the family squabble evaporate. Therefore, it is up to each individual family member to decide whether or not to snoop!! 

There was a huge split in my mom's family. Some of my cousins knew what caused it while others were not even aware that there was a problem. As a result, there are distant cousins who have no idea how large the family really is, as well as some cousins who have no idea why they were cut off from the family to begin with. Some of us had huge family gatherings. Others only mom, dad, and the kids for holiday dinner. There are only a couple of us left now who know the truth. 

So, do you fess up and take the chance of starting a brand new feud? It all depends, I suppose, on how much the family likes to fight. My mom's family thrives on it! As for my husband's family, I see some asking questions while others are suspiciously quiet. 

And what have we learned from this box of pictures?

*A box of pictures is not always what it seems!

*The feelings of family members must always be taken into consideration when doing genealogical research.

*It is fun to open an old box of pictures, even if has to be on Facebook.