Category Archives: Researching your family history

Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks

If you want to take the first tentative step to finding answers about your own adoption story, here are some simple places to start. This list of books includes advice on how to search, autobiographies of people involved in the adoption story, adoptees and birth parents, and true stories of adoption searches. The websites include adoption advice and useful archives. This is a place to start. Your journey will take you into the unknown, only you can take that first step. Good luck.

[photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

BOOKS

Adoption, Search & Reunion by David Howe & Julia Feast
A Good Likeness by Paul Arnott
Blue-Eyed Son by Nicky Campbell
Relative Strangers: A history of adoption and a tale of triplets by Hunter Davies

The People Finder by Karen Bali
The Adoption Triangle by Julia Tugendhat
The Adoption Reunion Handbook by Liz Trinder and Julia Feast
The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay
I Belong to No One by Gwen Wilson

[photo @SandraDanby]

WEBSITES

GOV.UK How to access birth records in the UK, what to do if you know your birth details, and what to do if you don’t know the circumstances of your birth. Includes a link to the Adoption Contact Register which enables you to find a birth relative or adopted person, or to say you don’t want to be contacted.
GENERAL REGISTER OFFICE To order UK birth certificates online, go to the General Register Office.
ARIEL BRUCE is a Registered Independent Social Worker who specialises in tracing people affected by adoption. She also helps to trace people who have lost touch as a result of emigration, divorce or other family separations. Ariel Bruce conducts searches in Britain and all over the world and has successfully traced missing family members for over 20 years.
BAAF [The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering] supplies advice and information on adoption and care issues. Their publication “Where to find Adoption Records” is very useful.
ELECTORAL REGISTER If trying to trace someone for whom you have a name, the Electoral Registers are a useful source of name and address. Check with your local county council.
AFTER ADOPTION is an independent adoption support organisation. Its website has useful links and adoption information. ActionLine is a free telephone helpline on 0800 0 568 578. It is confidential and available for anyone whose life has been affected by adoption – adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive families.
ADOPTION UK UK charity for people affected by adoption, 10,000 members. Providing support, awareness and understanding. Promotes the value of adoption, not so much about adoption reunion.
THE SALVATION ARMY Helps to reunite families through its Family Tracing Service. Telephone 0845 634 4747 or go online and complete an online request for a Family Tracing Service Application Form.

Finding People [photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

ADOPTION SEARCH REUNION This website, run by BAAF, is a useful starting place in the search for birth or adopted relatives.
FORMER CHILDREN’S HOMES This website is a valuable resource for information about UK children’s cottage homes, former orphanages and other institutions for children plus details of US orphanages and child migration. Information from children’s home registers is going online now.
PEOPLETRACER Checks +300 million online records for named people. Resources include UK Electoral Registers for 2002-2014, births deaths and marriages, and online Telephone Directory.
ADOPTION SERVICES FOR ADULTS Registered social worker Jean Milsted specialises in helping adults affected by adoption. As well as searching, tracing and intermediary services, ASA also offers workshops for adults affected by adoption [adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive family members]. Understanding different perspectives in adoption search and reunion, wanting to know or not, preparing for reunion.

This information is for guidance only and is mostly UK-based. All websites featured include further useful links, so please explore. Sandra Danby does not offer adoption advice or genealogical services.

Read more about family history research here:-
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching British newspaper archives
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2G via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Searching British newspaper archives #familyhistory #adoptionreunion

The days are gone when researching old newspaper articles meant a trip to a library. Nowadays there is a fantastic online resource for anyone trying to trace lost relatives or researching their family tree. The British Newspaper Archive has almost 11.5 million newspaper pages on its archives from the 1700s onwards, across 473 UK newspaper titles.

As part of the research for Ignoring Gravity, I read countless newspaper and magazine articles about adoption, the stories of birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents. I tested the BNA database. A random search for ‘Sandra Danby‘ produced three results, none of which were about me. Here are two:-

From the ‘Hull Daily Mail’

May 6, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby was a principal performer at a concert in Hessle Town Hall, along with Elsie Meek, Sylvia Cowling and Michael Goforth. I’ve made a note of the name Elsie Meek, inspiration for a character name perhaps?

From the ‘Hull Daily Mail’

June 19, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby from Hessle came second in the Haltemprice Fancy Dress Prize Winners ‘Most Attractive’ section, she was dressed as a Dutch girl. First prize was won by Patricia Partington, who dressed as Bo Peep.

Next, I searched for ‘Rose Haldane’, the name of my identity detective, and had more success with 13 entries, so perhaps not such an uncommon name. Ten of the 13 articles were from Scottish newspapers, here is one:-

From the ‘Southern Reporter’

April 2, 1908 Southern Reporter, Selkirkshire [above]: Rose Haldane of The Grange, presented prizes to the winners of the bulb-growing competition.

Read this post from the BNA’s blog with advice on how to search the archive for a person’s name.

This post was inspired by the article ’50 family history websites to watch in 2015’ in the January 2015 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.

 

Watch the book trailer for the ‘Identity Detective’ series, including Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness.
 BUY

Read more about family history research here:-
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards
Where to start your #familyhistory search
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Searching British newspaper archives #familyhistory #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2w via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Approaching adopted teens #adoptionreunion #adoptees

UK charity Adoption UK has appealed to birth families not to contact their birth children, given up for adoption, and now teenagers, via social media without advance preparation. A quarter of the 3,500 adoptive parents questioned in a recent survey by the charity said their adopted teenager had had some form of contact with a birth parent in the past year that was outside a formal agreement. The most common form of contact was social media. adopted teenagers

Established adoption charities said the established adoption practices for contact were no longer working and that a new system for authorised contact between adopted children and their original family was needed. Many adoptive families questioned in the survey said contact with their original family was positive for the child, but 61% said the experience was destabilising and 46% said they were unprepared for the unprompted contact.

Report author and Adoption UK policy advisor Rebecca Brooks said, “Traditional methods of maintaining contact with birth families and adopted families, which is usually a letter exchange once or twice a year, does not prepare families all that well for the unsolicited contact that can occur in teenage years because social media makes it so easy.” Some adopted teenagers are using social media to contact their birth families. adopted children

The Adoption Contact Register for England and Wales is where birth parents may leave their contact details, which may be given to the adopted child on application. In Scotland, contact Birthlink; in Northern Ireland, the NI Direct.

For advice about the searching process and finding emotional, read this advice from the Coram/BAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy

Adoption UK is one of two charities – the other is Home for Good – involved with the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanenceformed in February 2019 to give a stronger voice to families involved with adoption, and to develop effective policy and practice.APPG chair Rachael Maskell, MP, said, “This new APPG is a very important opportunity to advocate for some of the most vulnerable children in society and i am delighted to be leading it. adopted children have had a very tough start in life and they deserve the attention of policy makers to ensure they are able to build a better future.”

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Where to start your #familyhistory search
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards

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

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Approaching adopted teens #adoptionreunion #adoptees https://wp.me/paZ3MX-96 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Going back to the Family Records Centre #researching #adoptionrecords

Passage of time was one of the issues I faced when writing Ignoring Gravity, first in the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption reunion mysteries. In the time it too me to write the book, technology was revolutionised; ten long years, during which paper archives went digital, census and registry records became available online. The first draft of the book saw Rose making a trip to Myddelton Street, North London to visit the Family Records Centre in order to get a copy of her original birth certificate. I went too, to research the archive, to follow the process Rose would follow.

Myddelton Street sign - what is history of the name

Myddelton Street sign, what is history of the name [photo @SandraDanby]

When I retraced my steps, knowing the Family Records Centre no longer existed and its records long since gone digital, I found it a sad procedure. I’d liked the old building, the anticipation of the Tube journey, turning the corner, walking up the steps, the loud banging of the archive drawers, the friendly atmosphere of family history researchers poring over huge volumes.

FRC - the steps

Family Records Centre, the steps [photo @SandraDanby]

Recently, with some curiosity, I went back to the very first draft to find my first attempt at the scene where Rose visits the Family Records Centre. You can read it below. The scene was cut as part of my decision to place Rose in the 21stcentury, but on re-reading it I admit to feeling a fondness for paper records. The room, the atmosphere, the company of other people, lent the process a formality, a majesty, a sense of occasion.

It was a disappointing building. For something so momentous as the Family Records Centre, Rose had at the very least expected bay windows, Georgian steps or some sort of coat of arms. This place looked like a run-down comprehensive school. The black railings needed a coat of paint and there was litter on the steps. As she loitered with intent, a young girl pushed out of the heavy wooden doors. She pulled the lapels of her summer mackintosh around her neck in protection against the light breeze which teased loose ends from her low ponytail and flicked them sharply against her pale cheeks. Despite the sun, she behaved as if it was winter. The Girl banged into Rose’s arm as she passed but made no acknowledgement of anyone else’s existence.

Rose took a deep breath and walked in to meet her destiny. It really was like a school. A big sign listed the departments on each floor and a disapproving security guard watched all passers-by in case they made too much noise or ran in the corridors. Rose headed downstairs to the loo, brushed her hair, blagged a 10p coin from a little old lady and stowed her bag in a locker. She checked her hair again, then walked quickly upstairs and adopted the look of someone who knew where they were going: a tactic she used in strange places in order to ward off strangers and muggers. She didn’t know if it worked but it always made her feel better. She hovered outside the tiny bookshop which sold quaint home-made pamphlets on researching your family tree – Find your relatives in Canada; How to research army records; Tracing evacuees displaced during WWII. The cashier stared, gaze unflinching, and Rose rubbed her forehead in case there was a scarlet letter ‘A’ stamped there.

No. Her forehead was clean.

A sign pointed to ‘birth, marriage, death & adoption’ on the ground floor. Strictly speaking the order should reflect life so, ‘birth, adoption, marriage & death’. Or alphabetically it would be ‘adoption, birth, death & marriage’. She walked into the main index room where there was a continuous metallic banging noise as if lots of people were hitting empty petrol drums with pitchforks. Rose was shocked. People should show a bit of respect. This room contained official records of the highs and lows of people’s lives, of celebration and tragedy. Frowning and feeling self-righteous, she looked around to get her bearings.

“Births are on your right, the red books. Straight ahead are marriages, they’re green. Deaths are on the left, black. Adoption, if you want it, is at the back in the yellow books.” A tiny bird-like lady with glasses on a silver chain around her neck smiled, pressed a leaflet into Rose’s tightly clenched palm and waved towards huge metal shelves lined with books. Rose threw the A5 pink sheet into the nearest bin.

Red for birth, that was okay, blood was shed to bring forth new life. Green for marriages made sense too, green fields, new beginning, fresh pastures etc. And black for death was the social norm of mourning. So why were the adoption books jaundiced yellow? Yellow was a cowardly colour, sickly, plants with yellow leaves were past their best. Rose felt like a Cowardly Custard, putting off opening a yellow index book to find out the name of her real father who was too yeller to acknowledge her existence.

“Births are on your right…”, the bird-like lady directed another directionless new arrival.

Rose threaded her way through the shelves and angled viewing benches. There was a sense of business and purpose, a workmanlike industry. Women with shopping bags and businessmen with briefcases walked with purpose on a fleeting visit for a copy of a lost certificate, perhaps needed for a passport application. Others looked settled in for the duration, wandering between shelves, notebook and pen in hand, delving into books and leaving no stone unturned: a community of searchers. Two grey-haired ladies stood comfortably shoulder-to-shoulder, glasses perched on their noses as they leafed through index books. Were they sisters researching their family tree? They looked like siblings and both liked green. One wore a green turtle neck sweater, the other held a padded green jacket. They spent more time whispering to each other than looking at the books. This was a pastime for them, a hobby, an entertainment. Not life-affirming.

Rose meandered through the shelves and took an indirect route to adoption via death but in the end she reached the yellow section. In a tiny corner of the vast room, on a small bookshelf, sat the answer to her birthright. The heavy index books with black webbing handles started from 1927 with a book per year since 1966, around 30 books in all. Compared with the abundance of shelves holding red, black and green books, the yellow representation was under-nourished.

There was no one else within twenty yards of the yellow zone and though no-one seemed the slightest bit interested in what she was doing, Rose felt their implied stigma. By association, just by being there, she was coming out. She was adopted. She didn’t know how much of this was people’s real attitudes absorbed through osmosis, and how much of it was 60s stigma about unmarried mothers which she’d transferred to herself in her efforts to identify with Katherine’s plight.

The journalist in her shrugged and turned to face the task: get the facts and go, that was the objective. Rose hauled the 1968 index book onto the viewing bench and took a deep breath. The much-thumbed yellowing pages were folded and crumpled together.

Her birth certificate wasn’t there. Nobody’s was. There was an endless list of people’s names, dates of birth, entry numbers and volume numbers. For all her prevarication, Rose had expected some information today. A flood of heartburn rose up her windpipe and she tasted milky coffee. She sat on a chair while the sickness passed and worked out what to do next. 

“Everyone’s verry friendly here, aren’t they?” The three newcomers lined up in front of the adoption bookshelves just had to be siblings. Same corn coloured hair, same habit of running hand through said hair, and same height. Two women and one man, all in their twenties and all South African. “I don’t know where to start,” said the man.

“What are you looking for,” asked the bird-like lady who’d magically reappeared at their side like Harry Haller’s muse.

“Our grandfather was born here but then settled in South Africa. We can’t find his name anywhere and we fly back to Johannesburg tomorrow.”

“You need to look at the naturalised records at Kew.”

“Is it far?”

“The other side of London.”

“Oh.” The man’s shoulders sunk in defeat.

“Was he in the army, you could try their records. But I’ll warn you, it’ll take longer than a day to search.”

They nodded their thanks and left. Rose was alone again. She picked up another pink leaflet. To apply for a full certificate from the Adopted Children Register she had to fill in a yellow form. She took one from a wooden holder and started to read. Extra certificates cost £6.50 each. There was a choice of posted, collection or 24 hours. Oh God, more delay. Now that she was there she wanted the pain to be over. Not only could she not see her birth certificate in the index book, she couldn’t take it away today.

Post would take four working days. Did today count as a working day? If it did she might get the certificate on Friday. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t arrive until next Monday. That was a lifetime away. Rose ticked the 24 hours box. Paying an exorbitant £22.50 allowed her to collect it the next day and was the shortest time delay available. She’d just have to skive off work, again. Every minute until tomorrow would seem like sixty minutes instead of sixty seconds. 24 hours was 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds.

Rose turned back to the 1968 book and found her birth name ‘Ingram, Alanna’ in the index, added the entry and volume numbers to the yellow form and stood in line at the kiosks. She was the only person clutching a yellow form, the only adopted person there. She handed over a cheque and a copy of the precious form CAS 5/6, the original was safely filed at home. She also ordered a copy of Katherine’s death certificate. Rose had checked the marriage indexes just in case Katherine had married without anyone knowing, and the birth records in case she’d had any more children. But there was nothing.

24 hours to wait. 86,400 seconds. 4pm tomorrow and she would know the name of her birth father.

Getting hold of this certificate was a huge leap forward. There was something special about that bit of paper, seeing the words in black and white. Ink was permanent, a lasting, unarguable confirmation that everything she’d discovered was true. She repeated her mantra: “I am adopted and it’s not my fault”. What made Katherine and Diana do this deal and keep it a secret from everyone for over 33 years?

 “Hello dear. Births are on your right…” Rose exited the entrance where the bird-like lady fluttered from group to group, leaving an information leaflet clasped in each arrivee’s hand as evidence of her fleeting presence. She passed the stern lady at the bookshop and rubbed her forehead: it was still unmarked.

She stood on the top step and took a deep breath of fresh air, her lungs pressing against her ribs in an effort to inflate their parched corners with healing air. With no sense of direction Rose wandered along the road. She examined her hands and they shook gently. Delayed shock + anti-climax = low blood sugar. She needed chocolate. She felt as the emotional effect of the FRC must be writ plain across her face for all to see.

Read here how genealogists and family history researchers of the FRC responded to the announcement of its closure in 2007.

Fbk - IG KU the warm story
BUY ‘IGNORING GRAVITY’

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After it closed: going back to the Family Records Centre #researching #adoptionrecords via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1O

Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ #DNA #familyhistory

Just think how it would revolutionize family history research if a DNA test could tell us which regions of the UK we are descended from. Now a partnership of 100 DNA experts, Living DNA has compiled a database of results from the 2015 People of the British Isles project which created a genetic map of the UK.

uk - projectbritain.com

[photo: projectbritain.com]

The Living DNA test compares a person’s genetic markers with those from 21 distinct areas of the UK, including Cornwall, Norfolk and North Wales. The results are then displayed on an online platform, where there is the option to identify connections with a further 59 worldwide regions. The results are shown on a map with a guide to how far back each component of genetic material comes from; this gives genealogists the chance to verify the DNA findings with traditional paper-based research.

This post is inspired by an article in the November 2016 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine. More details here.

Future novels in the ‘Identity Detective’ series will involve the use of DNA to find a missing relative. My heritage is in Yorkshire, my surname shared with a small Yorkshire village. So would my DNA point me to Yorkshire, or elsewhere? Read here about the village of Danby.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby In 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. First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. BUY 
Watch the book trailer for the ‘Identity Detective’ series.

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Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ #DNA #familyhistory via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1K

Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion

People searching for their birth family commonly find themselves researching alongside family historians and genealogists. In the last decade there has been an explosion of interest in the past and where your own family and home fit into 20thand 21st century events. For adoptees this is an intrinsic part of building a picture of the birth family. Piecing together the jigsaw is enriched with information about the place someone lives, their job, the time they lived in, historical events of the time which affected everyone’s lives. There is an immense amount of information easily available online, from official archives to how-to books and websites offering help and support. Some of it is free, some of it is accessible by a small one-off charge, some of the larger databases require subscriptions. It is worth considering joining your local family history society that have membership subscriptions to the biggest commercial archives, but also to network with experienced family historians who understand how to find records.

WSFHS Show Open Day 2019 - photo @SandraDanby

West Surrey Family History Society Open Day 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

VISIT AN EXHIBITION
Dip your toe into the genealogical waters with a visit to a local event run by your local family history society. Check out the listing at the UK’s Family History Federation. Many have drop-in days for newcomers as well as annual open days and fairs. These are friendly low-key events and are a good opportunity at which to take your first step [above is the Open Day 2018 run by the West Surrey Family History Society].

There are a number of bigger regional and national exhibitions in the UK with a large selection of exhibitors including family history societies, specialist history, archives, family history projects, equipment and software suppliers, fiction and non-fiction.

February
Rootstech, Salt Lake City, USA

April
Family Tree Live, London, UK

Who Do You Think You Are? Live, London, UK

June
The Yorkshire Family History Show, York, UK

The Genealogy Show, Birmingham, UK

July
The Family History Show South-West, Bristol, UK

Family History Show at Sandown Park 2018 - photo @SandraDanby

Family History Show at Sandown Park, Esher 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

August
The London Family History Show, Sandown Park, Esher, UK [above]

October
Rootstech, London, UK

READ A BOOK
Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy: The definitive reference guide to tracing your family history by Dan Waddell BUY
Family History of the Net by Colin Waters BUY
Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn BUY

BROWSE ONLINE
ANCESTRY.CO.UK UK website, part of the Ancestry.com global network of family history websites. Offers access to 1 billion searchable UK family history records, 9 million searchable records in the global network. Census, fully-indexed birth, marriage and death records, passenger lists, British telephone books, military and parish records. Membership fee. Follow on Twitter @AncestryUK

FAMILYSEARCH.ORG A US non-profit website sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access Family Search services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centres in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Follow on Twitter @FamilySearch

FIND MY PAST Start your family tree, online, now. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THE MAGAZINE Subscribe to the UK magazine here, useful resource for starting to research your family tree. Follow on Twitter @wdytyamagazine

FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @familytreemaguk

FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE USA family history magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeMag

YOUR FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website.

FAMILY TREE FOLK Supplier of equipment for research including binders, charts, dividers, storage and magnifiers. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeFolk

FIND MY PAST Start building your own family tree, online. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

LOST COUSINS 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.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1w

Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards

I grew familiar with churchyards and graveyards when I was working on Ignoring Gravity. Rose Haldane believes her birth mother is dead and so searches amongst the headstones at her local church.

[photo @SandraDanby]

If Deceased Online had existed when Rose was searching for her birth mother, perhaps she would simply have searched the database online. Deceased Online is the first central database of burial and cremation records in the UK, and records are constantly being added to its database. 

Read how I researched the graveyard scene in Ignoring Gravity.

[photo @SandraDanby]

So I tested the Deceased Online database with a random search for the name of my father. One exact match was found, a gravestone at St Maxentius, Bradshaw, Lancashire. Not my father, and not one of my relatives. Sadly my search went no further as this headstone is not part of the DO contract, so was available to view only by payment with the local authority: £2 to view the single headstone, or £15 to view all 511 headstones at this property. 

[photo @SandraDanby]

My second search was for ‘Rose Haldane’. More success here, 36 headstone collections were found for Haldane, various cemeteries, mostly in Scotland, with multiple headstones. The most, seven, are at Kilmaurs Cemetery in East Ayrshire. Again, I was unable to view the headstone without payment. If I was searching for real, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay the fee.

This post was inspired by the article ‘50 family history websites to watch in 2015’ in the January 2015 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:

Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1g via #AdoptionStoriesBlog