Susan Beckman, an adoptee who searched and found her birth family, pens a blog that is well worth a bookmark. Those in search, will find some excellent insights on the process, at Susan Beckman’s Blog.
An entry that caught my attention is Staying Organized & Sane when Searching. In this short blog, Susan presents eight tips for staying organized when you are searching. When I searched (pre- Internet), I had papers, files, and phone numbers stashed all over my home. This often led to repetition of efforts, and wasted time.
For instance, when I discovered in my letter of non-identifying information, that my birth mother attended secretarial school while pregnant with me, I ordered a NYC phone book, made a list of every secretarial school in NYC, and started calling them to see if they were in business at the time of my birth.
I later misplaced the list, and had to start from scratch. Wasteful!
My strategy during those calls (which might work for you) was to find out if the school was in business when I was born. If the answer was yes, I thanked them, and called again the next day.
During the second call, I would ask if the school had a alumni group that could help me find a friend of my mother’s. I had my birth surname, which I found listed in the Birth Register books at the NY Public Library. Access to these books is free and open to the public.
I used the name, “Richards” and explained that I was looking for a friend of my mother’s. I told whoever would listen, that I was planning a surprise party, and explained that my mother had always talked about a ‘Miss Richards’ who she attended secretarial school with. I gave them the year of attendance, and asked for help.
You would be amazed how helpful the schools were! They often searched their records for a “Richards”, or gave me information to contact the alumni association. While, I did not find my birth mother through any school, the experience taught me how tugging at a few heart strings can garner assistance. Sure, I fibbed, but I assure you I had my fingers crossed the entire time ;).
Susan Beckman’s blog on organization suggest that adoptees use a “Correspondence index” and looking at the piles of information I accumulated during my 12-year search, I highly recommend you use one.
Susan gives a brief example, but you can expand this using Excel or other spreadsheet software. The more organized you stay, the less time you will spend backtracking, and the sooner you will be in the coveted state of reunion!
Blessings for speedy reunion,