Opening a Door . . . For Closure

Origins matter. Whether your family has lived in the same vicinity for 200 years or you’re part of the broad population that moves around every couple of years, wherever you “come from” is important. My own interest in origins feeds my love for genealogy.

Elfreth's Alley FROM:
Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia PA FROM:

It’s not just the ancestral names and faces who are fascinating but also the places from which they came. There are questions like, what is it that compels a family to uproot their lives in a certain locale and transport lock, stock and all possessions to another place to establish new roots? On the other hand, what drives other families to stay rooted in the same place over many generations? 

Thankfully, my families (for many generations past) have been linked to only a few specific places. My dad’s German ancestors settled in St. Louis. My mom’s family (with mostly British roots) settled in Philadelphia. Unlike many US immigrants, neither side of my family experienced the kind of gradual western migration from a US seaport, stopping for periodic, temporary settlements as part of a longer journey. This makes my research fairly straightforward.philadelphia-old-map-16696359

Not every amateur genealogist is as fortunate as I am. Furthermore, people whose families are formed via adoption often face monumental challenges in determining their origins.

There’s a sense where the adoptee and I are looking for some of the same things. We’re both asking the questions:  Who am I? Where did I come from?

My research seeks to uncover the person beneath the sterile facts. In my imagination, I envision that person whose name and dates are slightly familiar to me. I’m curious about his or her life and the ways in which my life reflects the common threads of past generations.

An adoptee is also envisioning blood relations, but not as a hobbyist (like myself) would do. Often, their search centers on discovering those common threads, but there’s a deeper hunger, a natural compulsion to connect and to give meaning and understanding to why the connection was severed.

I can’t imagine how much more complex (and frustrating) a family search is for an adoptee! However, today, I learned a bit about its challenges. My younger daughter brought to my attention the true story about an adoptee whose tenacity is amazing. Angela, a beautiful young lady adopted into a loving family, was born with physical challenges. (Her birth mother felt incapable of handling the baby’s needs and gave her up for adoption.)

Closure, the story of Angela’s search for her birth parents, provides a glimpse at the indomitable spirit of this woman and the beauty of her caring community, eager to surround Angela with their love and assistance. The video above is a trailer. (The full-length production, just over an hour long, is available on Netflix and is a treasure you’ll be blessed to view.)

From all outward indications, Angela enjoyed a charmed life from the moment she was adopted as an infant. Inwardly, though, she needed to understand where she had come from and the people to whom she was once connected. Origins matter and Closure helps us understand why. Beautiful.

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