I have been interested in genealogy my entire life. As a child, I would frequently ask my adoptive mom what she could tell me about my heritage. Of course, she had little information, but freely shared with me what she remembered having been told by agency workers. Although the information was incorrect, she did try. More importantly, she understood that I had a desire to know about my bloodline.
There are those who tell adopted persons that blood means nothing. Admittedly, to some people, it doesn't. However, to tell someone that it means nothing based on the fact that the person was adopted is short-sighted, at best. Genealogy is by far one of the most popular past times not only in the United States, but in the world. This should give an indication that bloodlines are, indeed, significant to many. Adopted people, just like non-adopted people, will include both those who have an interest in geneaology and those who do not. Being adopted does not (and should not) automatically mean that a person will have no interest in genealogy.
Genealogical societies generally recognize that, while adoption forms a new legal and social family unit, it does not create a new genetic, biological heritage. That is simply not possible. Genealogy traces the bloodlines of indivuals. Therefore, up until the time I reunited with my first family, I was unable to delve into what interested me so deeply. It was, in fact, not long after my reunion that I began to trace the lines. My father and grandmother were able to supply me with good information for starting out on my venture. Further information would come through public record, census records, birth, marriage and divorce indexes, old city directories and the other standard resources used by genealogists. In this day and age of the Internet, much of this can be found without leaving one's home, although this certainly is not always the case. Some records simply have to be sought in the more traditional venues.
I found that my father's side of the family had been in this country for several centuries. We are descended from the Crow family who founded Crows Landing, California. Like so many families, the Crows made their way across the country from the East coast. They lived in Maryland, and as they migrated, they settled in places such as Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin. In the mid 19th century, several of them came to California via one of the largest wagon trains of the era, called the Crow Wagon Train or Crow Emigrant Train. The town of Crows Landing, California was named for my 4th great grandfather, Walter J. Crow (1793-1850.) There are some colorful stories about some of the members of the Crow family that have been preserved in newspapers and, more recently, on Internet Websites. For example, my cousin Walter J. Crow (grandson of the previously mentioned Walter J. Crow) is known for his participation and subsequent death in The Mussel Slough Tragedy of 1880, in which he fought for the interests of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Walter is remembered as a "gunslinger of the Old West". The Crow history in America is a rich one, and these ancestors played an important role in the development of California. In recent months, I have had the opportunity to visit the gravesites of many of my Crow ancestors. It has been another tool that has helped give me a deeper understanding of this branch of my family and of my own roots.
I have always been very interested in the early years in the New World. The settling of the original colonies up through the Revolutionary War has always peaked some passion in me. Having lived on the east coast, I felt my soul connect somehow with the past and those brave, early comers. I found myself frequently entering old cemeteries and just reading the tombstones from the 1600s and 1700s, imagining what it must have been like during these years. I still have an old Revolutionary War small replica cannon that I purchased in Boston over 20 years ago. It sits on my desk as a reminder of that historic city and a token of my passion for that era. It was good to know of my Crow family's long history in this nation, including my Crow ancestors fighting in the war for our independence.
Because of my interest in the Colonial era, however, I sometimes fantasized as a young person that I was descended from the Plymouth Pilgrims of the Mayflower. I did not, however, have reason to believe this to be the case -- until a few months ago. About six months ago my uncle (my dad's brother) received a call from a woman in California, who stated she had been searching for her Morey cousins for quite some time. They quickly established that he was the right Morey. At the end of what was apparently a long call, he gave Barbara my dad's phone number. They, too, had a great conversation. Afterwards, I received a call from my father telling me I should get out my application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. He told me about his call with Barbara and said she wanted to speak with me. Of course I was interested! I called her and found that she'd not only done a near-exhaustive family history, but that she written a lovely book that lays out the role our ancestors played in the earliest years of this nation. And she told me something else. I am directly descended from passengers of the Mayflower. I am a 11th great granddaughter of John and Joan Tilley. I am a 10th great granddaughter of the daughter Elizabeth (who travelled on the Mayflower with her parents as a teenager) and another passenger, John Howland, whom Elizabeth later married. I am a 12th great granddaughter of Elder William Brewster and his wife, Mary. I have completed the ancestry charts for these lines and included them here and here. The bolded names denote the direct bloodline. There are some people who don't have either a birth year or death year noted. Besides my father and me (who are still living,) the rest of the omissions are due to the fact that I have not yet determined the correct year of the birth or death or the person. Anyone with an Ancestry.com account can look up my public tree under my username, lauriemorey.
What does this have anything to do with reopening records to adopted citizens? I will tell you. Because my original birth record is sealed, I am unable to simply give societies for descendants of these people the basic paperwork necessary to prove eligibilty for membership. A birth certificate is a standard request for organizations such as the Mayflower Society and others based on bloodline ancestry. I recently tried to join the John Howland Society. The person in charge of membership sympathized with my situation, and tried very hard to make several suggestions. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that I can't provide them with a birth certificate showing my parentage like a non-adopted person can. Therefore, I cannot give them the proof required, even though it exists.