#Adoption #BirthMother ‘Run’ by Ann Patchett

One snowy night, an accident brings together a group of people. Run by Ann Patchett tells the story of grown-up adopted brothers, Tip and Teddy, and the troubled relationship with their widowed adoptive father as they become men. And a mysterious figure is watching. The accident is the turning point that makes all of them face up to things that happened in the past, and work out how to live their lives now. Patchett is a brilliant writer and this is a complicated story full of twists, turns and family secrets where all is not as it seems. Not a page turner, but a book to savour. Ann Pratchett

When you are a novelist, as I am – not even writing, but at that early stage of tossing around ideas in your mind – sometimes you read something which sets your creative juices flowing. Run by Ann Patchett did that to me. Ignoring Gravity, the first book in my Identity Detective series, was written and I was well into the planning stage of its sequel Connectedness. It was at this point that I read Run, the story of Bernard & Bernardette Doyle an American couple who, after the birth of their son Sullivan, are unable to have any more children. They adopt Teddy, and then his older brother Tip too. It is a story about family, biological and non-biological combined.

The phrase that leapt off the page at me was this, “‘They could have gone to someone else,’ she’d always said to him. That was the part of it she never could get over; that these sons who were so unquestionably hers could just as easily have gone to another home, a different fate. But what they never said was that they had already belonged to someone else, and they could have just as easily stayed where they were.”

Bernadette’s sense that they could so easily have missed adopting Teddy and Tip, and that if they had life would have been so different, gave me an insight for a character I was developing for the ‘Identity Series’.
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If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
Innocent Blood’ by PD James
In the Blood’ by Steve Robinson
The Ghost of Lily Painter’ by Caitlin Davies 

Identity Detective seriesIn Ignoring Gravity, Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.
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First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series, watch the book trailer.

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Using maps #familyhistory #genealogy

Understanding your lost relatives is a little easier when you can place them geographically. Today there are huge online resources of historical maps which make this easier.

1925 Carr Naze and Filey Brigg

1925 Carr Naze and Filey Brigg [photo: britainfromabove.org.uk]

If you are searching for someone today and you have an address, the best place to start is the simplest: Google Maps. Just type in a place name and map focuses on the area you want, making it easy to find addresses from birth certificates, for example. When you are dealing with an area of the country with which you are unfamiliar, using GoogleMaps allows you to familiarise yourself with the area and perhaps connect up a couple of clues which previously did not make sense. For example, birth certificates or baptism records with addresses which do not tally with other clues you have. Looking at the area on a map can often clarify the options.

Britain From Above allows you to look down on early to mid-20th century homes, from the skies. For example, I grew up on the North Yorkshire coast near Filey, here [top and below] are two photographs from the area. Top is a 1925 photograph showing Carr Naze and Filey Brigg; the pic below shows Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road in Filey in 1932. The town is completely recognizable, compared with Filey today.

1932 Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road, Filey

1932 Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road, Filey [photo britainfromabove.org.uk]

If you are searching historical records, the British History Online website is a good place to start. There you will find an enormous amount of information available for Britain and Ireland between 1300 and 1800.

If your research takes you beyond the UK, Old Maps Online is a portal to historical maps in libraries around the world. Curious, I searched for Ronda in Andalucía, where we used to live. The nearest map I could find which referenced Ronda was this 1943 map [below], sourced from the British War Office.

Ronda, Spain

British War Office GSGC of Ronda area

The more you study the maps and read the local history of the area of the people you are researching, the more you will understand them. As part of my research for Ignoring Gravity, I got to know the area around Southfields and Wimbledon, London, particularly well. Rose Haldane, my heroine, was born in 1968, but her flat is clearly visible on this photograph [below] from Britain From Above’s archives in 1952. Perhaps her birth mother or father lived in the same area in the 1950s?

1952 Wimbledon Park

1952 Wimbledon Park from the south-west [photo: britainfromabove.org.uk]

This post was inspired by the article ‘Mapping Your Family’ in the February 2015 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Finding your nonconformist relative
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Identifying headstones 

Sandra Danby

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”

Start the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity. When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked? #secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Use maps to locate your family in city or countryside #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7i via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#Family #mystery ‘The Orphan’s Gift’ by @RenitaDSilva #orphans #India

The Orphan’s Gift by Renita D’Silva tells the stories of two women, Alice and Janaki, and moves across four decades between India and England. It is a deceptive tale of love and loss and the mystery of how these two young women are connected at a time when certain love was forbidden. It is an unforgiving world where broken rules may be punished by death, isolation and poverty and where the sanctions may come from those closest to you. Renita d'Silva

We first meet Alice, aged four, living a privileged life in the house of her parents, surrounded by beauty, warmth, and servants. But there are shadows too. Alice’s parents are distant and she finds love and companionship with her Ayah and Ayah’s son, Raju. Alice’s mother is delicate and spends all her time in a shadowed bedroom, her father is Deputy Commissioner of the British Government in India. Alice’s story starts in 1909 when the first agitations of Indian independence begin.

Janaki’s story begins in 1944 when she is raised by nuns in an Indian orphanage, she was left there as a tiny baby, wrapped in a hand-made green cardigan. Desperate for love, Janaki learns a difficult lesson; that even when love is found, there is no insurance against future pain.

The lives of both women are coloured by their early years and their differing experiences of love. Each story on its own is fascinating, but the fascination comes from how the two women are linked. Occasionally we see a tantalising glimpse of the elderly Alice in India in 1986, as an unknown visitor arrives. Hints are given in the Prologue which of course I read then forgot about as I became enthralled in the world of the book. Only as the book approaches its end does the significance of the Prologue become clear. D’Silva’s theme is how life turns on a sixpence. ‘It takes so little to change a life.’

I particularly enjoyed Janaki’s life at the orphanage, her friendship with Arthy, the pact the two girls make to study as doctors after meeting Mother Theresa and seeing one of their friends die because of the orphanage’s inability to pay for a doctor. Janaki’s story jumps forwards to the 1960s when she is a trailblazing doctor of gynaecology, at a time when female doctors are rare and given many column inches, but when she feels at her loneliest.

Love and its subsequent loss is not always fair, it hurts and sometimes is unjust. But this is also a story about the strength and truth of honest love which transcends prejudice, poverty and status. This book is full of the colours and scents of India but at its heart is a darkness and sadness which jabs an emotional punch. D’Silva is my go-to author for novels about India; she creates a sensory world which never fails to delight but into this setting she weaves stories tackling moral and heart-breaking themes.
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If you like this, try:-
The Ghost of Lily Painter’ by Caitlin Davies
Deadly Descent’ by Charlotte Hinger
The Pearl Sister’ by Lucinda Riley

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE ORPHAN’S GIFT by @RenitaDSilva #bookreview https://wp.me/paZ3MX-f2 via #AdoptionStories

True #adoption story… Dave Lowe #adoptionstories

Dave Lowe, 57, had been given up for adoption when he was just a few months old and his mother was unable to cope. He searched for years for his birth family. Two television programmes – The Jeremy Kyle Show, and Long Lost Family – were unable to help. So his daughter Louise took up the search. Via Genes Reunited and Facebook, she made contact with a woman called Zoe Anderson. Zoe was Dave’s birth sister.

Dave Lowe

Dave Lowe with birth mum Maureen [photo: North News and Pictures]

His birth mother Maureen sent him a text message, “At last my dearest wish has come true – to find you before I die.” Dave was reunited with Maureen, two brothers and a sister. He said, “This has made my life complete.”

The trail was broken when the family had moved to Bradford, West Yorkshire, from the Newcastle in the North East. Dave said, “I would never blame my mum for what happened all those years ago. She was so young, only a teenager, and by giving me away showed responsibility far beyond her years. She knew that I would be well looked after.” Maureen remembers, “I was heartbroken when I had to give him away, his father was absent and I was so young and would have really struggled. My last memory was of him as a tiny baby in my arms and now he is towering over me. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Dave Lowe

Dave Lowe, right, with his two brothers, sister and birth mum [photo: North News and Pictures]

Dave had despaired of ever finding his mother again. “I tried to go through agencies but all they wanted was money and the costs were extortionate. I never knew that Louise had been doing some digging of her own to surprise me.” He later found out that his birth family had been searching for him for 25 years.

Read Dave Lowe’s full interview at The Sun.

If you like this true story, read:-
Philip Sais
George Orwell
George Dennehy 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
True #adoption story… Dave Lowe https://wp.me/paZ3MX-dH via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Identifying headstones #familyhistory #graveyards

Tracing relatives – whether you are researching your family tree or on the trail of your birth family – will inevitably lead you at some point to a graveyard. Finding the headstones of relatives is always a bittersweet moment, but the text and dates may drive your search onwards.

gravestone

[photo: @SandraDanby]

That process is now easier as 22,000 new UK headstone records have been added to the database at The Genealogist with additions of records from Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, West Midlands, Wiltshire plus 12 Jersey parishes.

Each entry comprises the text of the memorial inscription, photographs of the headstone and its surroundings. Once you have identified the record you want, you can then view a map showing the graveyard location. For more information about the online headstone database, click here for The Genealogist.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
How #adoption became a legal process #UK
How History Pin puts your #familytree research on a map
Was your relative a VAD nurse in the Great War?

Sandra Danby

In Ignoring Gravity, first in the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption reunion mysteries, Rose Haldane unravels the mystery of her birth. She searches a graveyard for the headstone of her birth mother. Before writing this scene. I spent a long afternoon in a local churchyard, absorbing the atmosphere, reading the dedications. BUY
Watch the book trailer.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Identifying headstones #familyhistory #graveyards https://wp.me/paZ3MX-79 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#Searching #AdoptionReunion ‘Innocent Blood’ by PD James

If you are a PD James fan, I should say up front that Innocent Blood is very different from the Adam Dalgliesh detective series. It is a psychological thriller, a slow-building mystery which starts with little steps then, as the odd details start to make sense, the tension builds. It is the story of a young woman who knows she is adopted, who exercises her right to know the names of her birth parents, and finds something she never in a million years expected.PD James

Philippa Palfrey is 18, about to go up to Cambridge, until she decides to find out the truth of her adoption. Her birth father is dead, her mother though is still alive. Philippa’s adoptive father warns caution, tells her to do her research and think carefully before contacting her mother but Philippa, driven by the need to know who she is and where she came from, goes ahead anyway. With the arrogance and naivety of youth, she embarks on a complicated path full of moral dilemma, tragedy and loss.

It is a novel of family blood and relationships, violence, redemption, revenge and acceptance. Is there a threat, real or imagined, and where/who does that threat come from? As the story progresses, that threat advances and retreats, reforming in another shape. Is Philippa right, or should she have listened to Maurice’s warnings?
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If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
Deadly Descent’ by Charlotte Hinger
The Ghost of Lily Painter’ by Caitlin Davies
File Under Fear’ by Geraldine Wall 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#Searching #AdoptionReunion INNOCENT BLOOD by PD James https://wp.me/paZ3MX-5y via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Understanding your relatives’ #babyname choices #genealogy

Naming a baby can give you clues to all sorts things about your ancestors. Time of birth [Christmas or Easter perhaps], religion, hobbies, the place of birth, for maternal or paternal grandparents, and for the royal family. Modern day babies may be named for the star of a hit television show, or the father’s favourite footballer. This style of naming choice is not new. Finn, meaning fair, or white, originates from Fionn mac Cumhaill [below], the mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology. It can give you a clue to the geographical area your baby was born, the time, class and lifestyle.

Finn mac Cumhaill

Finn – Finn mac Cumhaill [illustration by Stephen Reid]

Names can be traced in families through the generations, not only first names but sometimes a mother’s maiden name too. Many second names amongst 19thcentury gentry were the mother’s maiden name, it was a way of keeping a surname alive if the male line died out. At least ten American presidents have their mother’s maiden name as a middle name. Sometimes this led to the use double-barrelled surnames; in the 18thand 19thcenturies, the mothers of illegitimate children would give them their father’s full name and their own surname. So if one of your relatives from that time has a surname for a middle name, it is likely he was illegitimate.

Names go in and out of fashion, and this is another useful way of pinpointing lifestyle and culture. At the start of the 18th century, the upper class starting to use Latin names such as Horatio. They also Latinised English names, turning Joan into Joanna, Maude into Matilda, and Anne into Anna. These names then trickled down through the classes. It was at this time also that the upper classes started to use French girls’ names, often those which are feminised versions of boys’ names, for example, Jacqueline, Charlotte and Christine. The name Albert has been popular for 80 years, becoming popular in 1840 on the marriage of Princess Victoria to Prince Albert [below].

Albert – Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Albert – Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha [portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter]

Until 1900, the most popular baby names remained static. In 1700, and again in 1850, the top ten included William, John, Thomas, Mary, Anne and Elizabeth. Fashions came and went according to the names chosen by famous people, who was in the news, and the current novel being read. So, Sir Walter Scott’s novels caused a rise in the choices of Waverley and Flora. Alice was popular after being chosen by Queen Victoria for her daughter. Clarissa has a long literary history, featuring as a name in the novels of Samuel Richardson, Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf [below].

Mrs Dalloway

Clarissa – popularised by Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘Mrs Dalloway’

Names can also give clues about geographical location of families, or a significant event in your ancestor’s life. If they disappear from records, it could be worth following a lead suggested by a name. Isla, for example, is named for the Scottish river Isla [below] and the Scottish island Islay. If this name appears in a previously-thought non-Scottish family, it could be worth searching records north of the border.

Isla River near Keith

Isla – a river near Keith [photo geograph.org.uk]

If you want to know more about the meaning of an ancestor’s first name, try the British Baby Names website which in its ‘Name Data’ tab has lists of names by year based on original records. Another useful site is Nameberry, its Namehunter feature allows you to search for a particular name and read its history.

This post is inspired by an article by Ed Dutton  in the July 2017 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

If you want to read more about family history research, try these articles:-
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards
Find missing births
Did your relative work in a pub? 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Understanding your relatives’ #babyname choices #genealogy https://wp.me/paZ3MX-72 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Brian Moore #adoptionstories

In his 2010 autobiography Beware of the Dog, England rugby player Brian Moore – who was adopted as a baby – wrote about his Malaysian birth father. But when he attended his birth mother’s funeral in 2020, he met birth relatives and discovered his birth father was actually Chinese.

Brian Moore

Brian Moore [photo: Getty Images, Daily Mail Online]

“Went to my birth mother’s funeral yesterday,” he posted on Twitter. “Strange feeling meeting my brother and sister and a whole set of blood relatives I never knew about. Turns out I’m half Chinese, not Malaysian, and my birth grandfather was a steelworker in Rotherham.” When he was an adult Moore had traced his birth mother, Rina Kirk, who told him his birth father was Malaysian.

Moore, who won 64 international caps playing rugby for England, now works as a solicitor. He was born in Birmingham in 1962 and was adopted by Ralph and Dorothy Moore when he was seven months old.

Brian Moore, middle, in a game at Twickenham in 1991 [photo: Getty Images, Daily Mail Online]

Ralph and Dorothy had two children of their own and an adopted Chinese daughter; they lived on a council estate in Illingworth near Halifax in West Yorkshire.  The Moores taught Brian about the country they believed he was from –  Malaysia. “I remember having a book about rubber plantations in Malaysia, and I pictured jungle tigers stalking the land.” In his book he added, “I never hide the fact that I am half Malaysian, nor have I ever felt ashamed of it, but nor do I think it very relevant to who I am.”

Brian MooreBUY THE BOOK

If you like this true story, read:-
Whitney Casey 
Sheila Mercier
Emmeline Pankhurst

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#Adoption #Mystery ‘The Moon Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley

Fifth in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley, The Moon Sister is the story of Tiggy, wildlife conservationist and warm-hearted introvert. Each of the D’Apliese sisters is different with diverse skills, interests and hugely varying birth stories. Tiggy’s story alternates between a Highland estate where she is managing the rewilding of Scottish wildcats, and the flamenco world in Spain during the 1930s. Lucinda Riley

The Kinnaird Estate is a beautiful, isolated, wild place. The four wild cats move into their custom-built enclosure and Tiggy moves into a shared estate cottage with fellow worker Cal. Riley builds the Kinnaird community quickly and skilfully from new Laird Charlie to housekeeper Beryl and old retainer Chilly. It is Chilly – speaking in a muddled mixture of English, Spanish and Romani – who introduces the first hints of premonition, seeing and herbal remedies. He tells Tiggy she has healing hands. Caught up in the twists and turns of the Kinnaird family, the frictions in Charlie and Ulrika’s marriage and their tempestuous daughter Zara, Tiggy grieves for Pa Salt and is curious about her own birth family. In his farewell letter, Pa Salt tells her she comes from a gifted line of seers. She must go to Granada in Spain, to the gypsy area called Sacromonte, where she must knock on a blue door and ask for Angelina. Tiggy delays, unsure of the truth, attracted to Charlie. But when she is injured in a poaching incident on the estate, Tiggy feels upset, confused and wronged. She flies to Granada. This is a quick reminder that Tiggy, who lives the most normal, ordinary life of the sisters so far, is far from a normal girl and when times get tough, the D’Apliese wealth is ever-present.

The second storyline is that of Lucia, Tiggy’s grandmother, who rises from a tiny girl living in deepest poverty in Sacromonte to a world-famous flamenco dancer. Though Tiggy’s character and situation is appealing, I found Lucia a more difficult character. By nature energetic and stubborn, Lucia turns into a selfish, spoiled woman who rides roughshod over others. Exploited by her feckless father who keeps control of her money and career, Lucia’s few moments of caring for others were not enough for me to warm to her. But the world in which she lives, the Sacromonte community, the gypsy brujas, and the violence and depravities of the Spanish Civil War were fascinating to read. As with the stories of the other sisters, Riley concentrates most of the birth family story on a generation further back than the birth parents and there were times when I longed for less flamenco and more bruja. I also wanted to know Chilly’s story and how he came to work on a Scottish estate.

There are more teasers in this book about the truth of Pa Salt’s identity and death, but nothing concrete. There is also the reappearance of Zed Eszu, who can only be described as a sleazy millionaire cad, who first appeared in Maia’s story. What lies behind his fascination with the six D’Apliese sisters. And is Pa Salt really dead?
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Next in the series is The Sun Sister, the story of Electra. Here are my reviews of the first four books in the series:-
The Seven Sisters
The Storm Sister
The Shadow Sister
The Pearl Sister

If you like this, try:-
The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
The Marriage Certificate’ by Stephen Molyneux
‘Deadly Descent’ by Charlotte Hinger

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE MOON SISTER by @lucindariley #adoption #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-df via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#FamilyHistory… was your relative a VAD nurse in the Great War? #nursing

Diaries, notebooks and sketchpads are dynamite for family history researchers as an insight into the lives of an ordinary people in your period of interest. If you are interested in filling in the life of a relative who served in a VAD [Voluntary Aid Detachment] during World War One, autograph and memory book of Cheltenham VAD nurse Dorothy Unwin may be of interest. Held at The Wilson art gallery and museum, it provides a very personal view of the war.

The book includes photographs of herself, the wards she worked on, soldiers and staff. Most poignant are the comments given to Nurse Unwin by patients.

Some soldiers write only their name, number and the date but some offer more information. Private Clapton of the 1stGloucestershire Regiment was ‘wounded in shoulder’. Percy Bedford of the 14thCanadian Battalion was ‘blown out of trench at Ypres 25 April 1915’. Many messages are of thanks. Patients are pictured playing sports and performing in plays and revenues. It offers a powerful insight into the men who fought in the Great War and also the daily life of FAX nurses.

Vera Brittain, who would go on to write Testament of Youth, was reading English Literature at Somerville College, Oxford when in the summer of 1915 she delayed her degree by a year to volunteer as a VAD nurse.

Initially she worked in Buxton, later in London, Malta and France and spent much of the war as a nurse. Her fiancé Roland Leighton, close friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow, and her brother Edward Brittain were all killed in the war. Their letters to each other are documented in the book Letters from a Lost Generation. In one letter Leighton speaks for his generation of public school volunteers when he writes that he feels the need to play an “active part” in the war.

Search your local archives for similar VAD accounts relating to your local area. Via Discovery at the National Archives, you can also search the journals, memoirs, correspondence and photographs of VAD nurses working in the UK and abroad.

As well as Dorothy Unwin’s autograph and memory book, and local Cheltenham history, The Wilson art gallery and museum in Cheltenham has a First World War archive including propaganda posters, postcards from the frontline, correspondence and possessions of individual people, and albums from local Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospitals.

The Imperial War Museum has a collection of First World War VAD uniforms, photographs of wards, rest stations in France, VAD hospitals, recruitment posters

If you’re searching for relatives and want to search online safely try the Lost Cousins website, which matches you with other people researching the same ancestors. It’s worth signing up for the Lost Cousins newsletter too.

This post is inspired by an article in the March 2018 issue of Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

If you want to read more about family history research, try these articles:-
Searching the bastardy records #foundlings #orphans
Researching European records
Where to start your #familyhistory search 

WDYTYA the Genealogy Handbook by Dan Waddell

Don’t know where to find the records you need to start investigating your own relatives? Try the Who Do You Think You Are? The Genealogy Handbook by Dan Waddell
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And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The memory book of #WW1 Cheltenham nurse Dorothy Unwin #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-6T via #AdoptionStoriesBlog