A Wee Bit About MeI was adopted in 1978 under the “closed records” system in the State of Michigan. I found both of my birthparents myself. My birthmother I found many moons ago after many years of searching. With very little information to go on, I started what seemed to be an impossible traditional search at the beginning using an intuitive, deduction strategy based approach. Several years before I figured out her identity and nearly 2 decades ago, I had moved 4000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Michigan to a remote, rural area in the Highlands of Scotland where I still live today. After identifying my birthmothers side of my family, I began for the first time in my life to build my own family tree! Little did I know, that I would discover that I had moved 4000 miles to a remote spot in a foreign land that would turn out to be my ancestral home grounds… literally!
My 4x great grandmother, Helen Donaldson, was born and raised only 3 miles as the crow flies from where I live and she had the same first name as my daughters middle name! My 5x great grandmother, Ann Bain, was born and raised less than a mile over the hill from where I live here in Scotland! Was this the workings of genealogical synchronicity? I believe so!
I later became involved doing research and investigation on post-conviction and wrongful conviction legal cases, one of which, resulted in a wrongfully convicted man walking free from a Wisconsin prison after 16 and a half years of imprisonment in one of the most phenomenol examples of a joined effort between community activists, lawyers and private investigators I have ever been involved in! I also research land reform and planning law here in Scotland and have volunteered as a lay legal consultant and activist in a niche sector of Scottish planning law enforcement cases including consulting and representing people in quasi-judicial cases in this sector in both Scotland and England. On occasion in the past, I have also authored guest blogs by invitation on planning enforcement and sustainable development at the blog of one of the largest law firms in Scotland.
I am also about to undertake my 2nd year of postgraduate work in University of Strathclyde’s Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies program.
As my birthfathers identity still remained a mystery and I had next to no information on his identity, I thought I may never find him! I later discovered that the DNA databases were getting large enough that there was now real hope that adoptees like myself would be able to find their birthparents through DNA testing. I studied everything I could find online about the DNA methodology and despite not having the closest matches in the databases one could wish for, by applying what I learned and utilizing my already honed, traditional investigatory skill set….. I found my birthfather within a few months!
Read my story, “All Roads Lead To Arkansas” to learn how I used DNA to find him.
When all was said and done I sat back and marvelled at what a revelation DNA testing has become and also realized the phenomenol potential DNA testing has for the hundreds of thousands of “closed record era” adoptees searching for birthparents right now!
Since the day I found my birthfather, I have been helping dozens of other adoptees, foundlings and others with unknown parentage find their families working as a search angel and also working many full cases start to finish on a pro bono basis.
I will be quite frank and say that I strongly believe that the closed record adoption system in America is oppressive, draconian and psycologically damaging to both adoptees and birthparents and their extended families alike. For years, many activist groups advocated for the opening of records and I supported them however, the wheels of justice turn slowly and when some States had finally passed some open record legislation, many of the open record laws were half measures and did not benefit everyone affected equally. Quite simply, the laws did not go far enough! And what about adoptees who are foundlings or “gray market” or “black market” adoptions? Even clean open record laws will never help them.
With that said, I firmly believe that DNA adoption successes will overtake the intended result of clean open record laws in all 50 states. It isn’t difficult to imagine that the more commonplace DNA adoption search successes become the more redundant closed record legislation will become. Keep in mind also, that many adoptees who waited for years for open records legislation to be passed in their State have finally received their original birth certificates through the opening of records only to find that the information in them was completely false! DNA does not deceive! (Unless you are a chimera, of course!) That is why I believe it is the only foolproof way of proving your natural identity and heritage! With all of the DNA databases growing exponentially now, soon it will become clear that adoptees can reclaim their natural identity through DNA testing and working the methodology to find their birthparents whether they are closed records adoptees, foundlings, “gray market” or “black market” adoptees or donor conceived.
This is why I am so excited about this technology and have been helping so many adoptees with DNA adoption searches! I think DNA testing for those of unknown parentage has by far the most empowering potential that will ever be available to us!
Thanks for reading a bit more here about my story!
When I’m not busy with adoption DNA investigations, I am busy in a local volunteer network I co-founded, rescuing stranded and entangled marine mammals (seals, dolphins, and whales) around the Scottish coastline. I also keep busy with my croft (smallholding) where my husband, daughter and I keep a handful of Aberdeen Angus cows, a pony, chickens, ducks and geese. One day, my dream is to buy a small, liveaboard sail boat and travel with my family.
I am a proud member of the Orkney Family History Society, Caithness Family History Society and the International Society of Genetic Genealogists.
All vintage photographs on this website are from my own family collection. All other photography is my own.