Sunday, November 15, 2020

Unique Life Stories of NPEs


young family walking down path
Many of the NPEs who have contacted me are well into their senior years. They have lived decades with a question mark hovering over their existence, wondering about their true identity. Each NPE accepted the hand dealt them, knowing it was part of their personal life story. Their adoptive family, the place they called home, their faith – all were part of the puzzle and just as important as finding their birth lineage. Most of my NPEs simply wanted to know their ancestry – who were the maternal and paternal families they descended from, and nothing more. They had very little desire to connect with half-siblings or to interrupt someone else’s life by expecting a relationship.

I realized the life stories of my NPEs were not isolated incidences that could be “swept under the rug” as so many previous generations had done. As a genealogist with the goal of preserving past history with accurate names and dates, I understood the truth of NPEs was a significant part of every family genealogy. Their parentage should be recognized and included in ancestral trees just like any other descendant.  And their personal story should be told, enabling them to claim a heritage stolen by adoption or family secrets.

Since many of my NPEs were past the age of sixty-five, it was unlikely their birth parents were still alive. If I was able to identify their parentage and narrow down possible candidates, I often left the final descendant contact up to my adoptees, feeling that it was a personal choice if and how they would proceed.

As I said before, each NPE story is unique, and each conclusion to a case has its own ending. Some never make contact with their potential siblings; feeling satisfied just knowing who they are and identifying their true paternal and maternal surnames. Other endings never reach a definitive answer, being cloaked in decades of secrecy, hiding behind insurmountable brick walls. If luck and patience is on our side, some birth families will connect when DNA offers positive proof of a half-sibling or other close family member. And still others are ongoing, awaiting the next clue that may appear in a DNA data base or social network search group.

Young family walking together


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