During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.
How can I track down someone placed in an orphanage or adopted?
Adoption and orphan research depends greatly on location and time period. One might want to first contact the local library in the area where the event took place. The local librarian may know where (and if) institution records survive and where the records are located, although the library will probably not have the records. If you are searching a modern case (post 1930), you need to discover if the state has some type of contact-exchange program. In these programs, you register your information and if someone on the “other side” of the adoption has filed, they will facilitate contact. After that, contact the local Child Protective Services and ask what is and is not possible. For older adoptions and ward situations, check probate records in the counties in question. Probate records hold guardian, adoption and apprentice records which may help you to locate these children. You might also learn other tips from our Adoption Research Guide.
Are there sources for names from Catholic Charities-foster home placements in New York City about the 1940s?
That time period is still covered by privacy laws, but contact Catholic Charities in New York City.
Who am I? My father was adopted. He never knew who his real father was. My father has passed now, and I do not know who his father was. I hate to think if I die, I will never know who I really am.
The first step is to identify when and where your father was born and whether there is a birth certificate on file with the correct name of his birth father. If he was adopted, you need to determine who handled the adoption - a social agency, a lawyer? Since your father is deceased, enough time may have passed that the adoption record can be unsealed by a petition to the court in the county where he was born. Different states have different laws regarding access.