Monday, October 31, 2011

Chapter 7 - Dear Ms. Cotter,

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Welcome back! Before we get started, I'm going to share a secret with you. Glogirly's mom and dad didn't really name her Glogirly. That's just my nickname for her. It's caught on and now lots of people call her Glogirly, or Glogirl, even GG for short. But her real name is Debbie. Debbie Glovatsky. Gloman was Gloman when they met. But his real name is Tim. A few people call him that, but not us.

I know you've been curious what Glogirly would write in her letter to the oldest sister. She wondered too. But finally the words came.

If you've missed my previous posts be sure to check out:
Searching For A Girl - Prologue
Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day
Chapter 2 - So You Want To Be A Genealogist
Chapter 3 - Sam From Kansas
Chapter 4 - Four Hours
Chapter 5 - A, B, C
Chapter 6 - The Local Rite Aid

23 June 2007

Dear Ms. Cotter,

Almost 44 years ago, your sister Alice gave birth to a baby girl in Santa Barbara. She felt it was in the baby's best interest to give her an opportunity with an adoptive family through the Children's Home Society. After very careful research, I believe I am that baby.

Like most adopted children, I've always had an innocent curiosity about my birthmother. I am contacting you because I would love to know more about Alice. I know that she has passed away, and I would appreciate very much any memories you might be willing to share with me about her. Please know that I'm only seeking information, nothing more. I don't wish to cause any discomfort or invade your privacy in any way.

My name is Debbie Glovatsky. I am married and living in Minneapolis with my husband, Tim. I have a 19-year-old stepson named Gabe.

For as long as I've known I was adopted, my whole life really, I've felt an incredible gratitude and respect for a woman I suspected I may never know.

My adoptive parents were wonderful people. They gave me a great home and loved me very much. My parents were always open and honest with me about my adoption. From a very early age I knew that I was adopted and understood how special that was. I knew that there was someone out there that loved me enough to give me up so that I had a chance to grow up with a family that could love and take care of me forever.

My mother passed away in 1987 when she was only 58. My father passed away just three years ago. I know that they too were grateful to a woman they never knew. They loved telling me about the day they brought me home. They gave me everything any child could hope for. Although I've always had an instinctive desire to know who my birthmother was, I didn't start to actively search until recently.

I am contacting you because I am hopeful that you were a part of Alice's life during her pregnancy. My decision to contact you is also based in part on a newspaper article I read about you and your job at the local Rite Aid that was published in the San Luis Opbispo Tribune last June. In reading the article, I can tell that you are a warm and friendly woman, respected and admired by those in your community. I would love to meet you, but again, only if it is within your level of comfort to do so.

I would like to phone you sometime in the next few weeks. If for any reason you would rather I not contact you, please let me know. I've included my address and phone number.

Kindest regards,

Debbie Glovatsky

Included in the letter was this 2006 family portrait of
Gloman, Glogirly & Gabe


Glogirly first composed the letter on her computer so she could move things around and edit her words. She read it out loud a hundred times. It had to be perfect. It needed to be brief but thorough. Without turning it into a novel, she needed to introduce herself, convey her gratitude, show love for her own adoptive family and respect for her biological family. She wanted to meet the sister. Or at least talk with her. She had to take care not come off too strong. She didn't want anyone to think she was out to get something. All Glogirly wanted was information. She wanted to know her birthmother.

Once the words were right, Glogirly wrote the letter out by hand in her best and prettiest handwriting. She went to the stationery store to pick out the perfect paper and envelope. She even bought some decorative paper with flowers on it to line the envelope and a beautiful stamp to seal the envelope with. She had to start over five times before she wrote out the whole letter without any mistakes or smudges. It was likely the most important letter she would ever write. It had to be perfect.

Then she took it to the post office. She decided it was important that Jeanette and only Jeanette receive and open the letter. What if her daughter found it first, opened it and never gave it to her? What if her daughter didn't know anything about Glogirly? What if the letter was lost? Or mistaken for a piece of unwanted mail?

Certified, return-receipt. That was the only way to go. By the time the letter had the official seals and stamps plastered front and back, it looked like something ominous from a law office or the IRS. The pretty seal on the back of the envelope was completely covered. This letter was sure to get someone's attention. Glogirly was so nervous she practically told the post office worker her whole life story. He had adopted a daughter some 30 years ago and was understanding and sweet. He wished her luck as she turned and walked away.

Well, there was no turning back now. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night would keep this letter from reaching it's destination.

Now came the hard part. She had to wait.

Click HERE for Chapter 8 - A Gift

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chapter 6 - The Local Rite Aid

Hi everyone, Katie here.

My paws are getting tired with all this writing. Can you believe we're all the way to Chapter 6? Could we have just one of these chapters be a little brief? Please? Probably not. Glogirly still has to find the last sister and the story must go on.

But first, if you've missed my previous posts be sure to check out:
Searching For A Girl - Prologue
Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day
Chapter 2 - So You Want To Be A Genealogist
Chapter 3 - Sam From Kansas
Chapter 4 - Four Hours
Chapter 5 - A, B, C

It was the weekend. Glogirly had thought long and hard about her search. She thought about her birthmother's family and the possible outcomes of making contact with them. She considered her own reasons for searching.

Ever since she was very young, her parents had been open and honest about her adoption. She remembered a story book they read to her from when she was just a small child. It was called The Family That Grew. It was part of a two-book set. 

The first book, called The Adopted Family, was a guide book for adoptive parents. It was written for strictly for the parents and was intended to help them explain adoption in words their child could understand. It encouraged parents to talk openly and honestly and prepared them to deal with the inevitable questions that would come up.

The second book, The Family That Grew, was a storybook for the young adopted child. In words and illustrations, it told the story of of a baby and how it came to be born. 

"What's the smallest thing you ever saw?
A pebble?
A raindrop?
A grain of sand?
Once you were even smaller than any of these things. That was before you were born.

Everything living has to start growing. A rooster and a hen start every little chick. A gander and a goose start every little gosling. And a man and a lady start every little baby.

And that's how you started too.

Like everything starting to grow, you were much too tiny to do a single thing for yourself. So the lady kept you warm, and protected you inside of her body, until you were big enough to eat, and breathe, and cry and smile.

Then you were big enough to be born, and you were.

Everybody wants to take care of the babies they grow.

Cats want to take care of their kittens.

Dogs want to take care of their puppies.

Ducks want to take care of their ducklings.

When you were born, the lady and the man who started you also wanted to take care of you.

Sometimes though, something happens so that people cannot take care of the babies they start, and that happened to the lady and the man who started you. So they thought and thought about what they could do to be sure you had a Mother and a Father to love you and take care of you..."

That's how the storybook started. It was written in 1951 by Florence Rondell and Ruth Michaels. The style of the words was a little out of date, but the heart of the book was timeless.

Young Glogirly felt very special when her mom or dad would read to her from this book. She remembered her mom telling her about the "nice lady" that "couldn't take care of Glogirly" but that "loved her very much." She loved her so much that she gave Glogirly to her mommy and daddy so they could be a family and love each other forever. Her mom told Glogirly that she was very special. She had something that few other children had. She had a nice lady that loved her when she was a very tiny baby and she had a mommy and daddy that chose her. This would make her special forever.

Glogirly never forgot this. She still has that set of books and for the first time in her whole life that Saturday morning, she opened up the book written for the parents and read. She recognized the words and phrases that her parents used when they talked with her about her adoption. She could tell they really studied the book and took the words to heart.

As Glogirly grew up, her understanding and appreciation of her birthmother's decision grew and grew. When friends would ask her if she was curious or wanted to find her real mother, her answer was always the same. Sure, she was curious. She would love to know who she looked like. But she already had a real mother. She didn't feel like she was missing anything at all. More than anything, she wanted her birthmother to know that she understood and was grateful for her decision. That everything turned out just fine. She just really wanted to say - Thank You.

This was her chance. Although she would not be able to thank her birthmother, she could at least thank her family.

With Gloman out of town, Glogirly settled into a comfy chair with her laptop powered up. She was ready to spend the day crafting her letter and searching for the last sister, Dorothy. Dorothy was the younger of the two sisters so Glogirly thought it would be best to send a letter to her. She had no idea what kind of health problems either sister might have been facing at the time and figured the younger one might be a safer bet. The younger sister was born three years before Glogirly's birthmother and was in her early 70's. The oldest sister was in her early 80's. She had considered writing a cousin as well. A cousin would be almost the same age as Glogirly and possibly sympathetic to her cause. But they might not even know she existed. Even thinking about the letter and what to write was exhausting, so she continued to search.

Glogirly followed the same steps that had led her to the oldest sister. If it worked for one, it just might work for the other. Glogirly focused in on the Dorothy's.

A, B, C, D. How lucky was Glogirly that one sister married a man named Cotter with a C and the other married a man named Davidson with a D. Dorothy Davidson, the last sister. Hooray for the front of the alphabet! Glogirly was giddy.

Dorothy married Lawrence Lee Davidson. They had three boys, Lawrence, Jeffrey and Mark. Jeffrey was born one year before Glogirly and Mark was born the year after. This meant that Glogirly's birthmother had to give up her child while her sister cared for a new baby and had another on the way. That must have been hard.

Young Glogirly and her white gloves.

Young Glogirly's kindergarten class

With as easy as it was to locate addresses for the other siblings, Glogirly was surprised when she ran into roadblocks with Dorothy's address. There was no listing for Dorothy Davidson, only Lawrence Davidson. Lawrence could have been her husband, but could also have been her son. There was just no way of knowing. If she sent a letter to the Lawrence Davidson address, she just couldn't risk having a cousin, a male cousin, open the letter. It was looking like her only choice would be to send a letter to the oldest sister.

As she thought about that, Glogirly played around with the regular old Google search engine. Some people doodled when they were deep in thought. Glogirly Googled. She typed in the name of the oldest sister, Jeanette B. Cotter and San Luis Obispo, CA. Then she hit ENTER. She wasn't really expecting anything. It was just kind of busy work for her fingers as she thought about other strategies, what the letter should say, etc.

Google found an article published the previous year in the San Luis Obispo Tribune. It was a feature article about a well-loved woman in the community that worked at the local Rite Aid store. She'd been there for years. Even though she was 83, she still walked 1-3 miles every day and enjoyed working as much as she could. Her customers in the store would wait in her checkout line, even if it was the longest, just so they could say hello. Her name? Jeanette B. Cotter, the oldest sister.

Glogirly fantasized about flying to California, going to the San Luis Obispo Rite Aid store and buying a bottle of shampoo in Jeanette's checkout lane. Good sense prevailed though.

A friend once told Glogirly, "Sometimes putting your desire into the universe causes amazing things to happen." And that's just what happened. Finding this newspaper article gave Glogirly her answer. She knew right then and there that she would send her letter to Jeanette.

Now if she could just figure what to write.

Click HERE for Chapter 7 - Dear Ms. Cotter,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chapter 5 - A, B, C

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Calm down. We're not done yet. Despite how chapter 4 ended, with Glogirly's discovery of her birthmother's death, the story is far from over. Now put away the kleenex and read on...

But first, if you've missed my previous posts be sure to check out:
Searching For A Girl - Prologue
Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day
Chapter 2 - So You Want To Be A Genealogist
Chapter 3 - Sam From Kansas
Chapter 4 - Four Hours

Glogirly really struggled with her discovery. To find and lose someone so quickly, in the blink of an eye, was hard to take. She was too late. Her birthmother died before she could find her. Glogirly had been living and breathing this search nearly 24 hours a day and she found herself mourning a woman she never knew. All she had of her was a birth and death record. Other than the background report, everything in-between was an empty mystery.

Even though she knew in her heart that Alice Mae Beecham was her birthmother, she needed to be absolutely certain. She needed to know not only for herself, but if she were to decide to contact the family, she HAD to be sure. Glogirly searched for more details and more family members every evening after work, every weekend, often late into the night. She had assembled a comprehensive family tree including generations back and forward. She used a large piece of black poster board sprinkled with a family tree of post-it notes. Most of the family had been easy to trace back. She even found her great, great grandparents in Dover, England. This was the first time in her life she knew her ancestral heritage.

Tracing the family forward was looking good as well. She found an address and phone number for her birthmother's oldest brother, James H. Beecham. She found his wife, Armrel. She found two sons and a daughter - Craig, Paul and victoria.. They would have been her first cousins. She found possible address records for the eldest brother's three children. Phone numbers too.

As Glogirly was piecing together the family tree, she was thinking about her end game. This search had turned into a science project of sorts. Glogirly had lost herself so deep into the details of the data, she somewhat separated herself from the emotion of it all. Eventually, she'd run out of family to search for, not to mention post-its. She had to think about what she was she going to do with all of this information. Her birthmother was gone. Did anyone else even know about her? Would they want to? It was risky. She dreamed of an Oprah-style outcome but knew there was just as much of a chance it could turn into a Jerry Springer episode.

There was a part of Glogirly that wanted to pick up the phone and dial her uncle's phone number...maybe even her cousin's. She even thought about calling and hanging up, just to hear the sound of their voice. But deep down she knew that was not the way to handle this. If she was going to pursue contact, it had to be in writing. A letter that would allow the recipient to take it all in. Something private, respectful and articulate. But to who?

Glogirly knew that if she was going to send a letter, it had to be to one of the sisters. When it came to matters of the heart, an unwed mother's pregnancy, a long lost child suddenly showing up...Glogirly just knew this was a matter meant only for the sisters.

That was a problem though. She knew the sisters' given names, she knew their birthdays, and where they were born. But she didn't know their married names. And without that information she would never find a single address. proved to be very fruitful with a variety of public records. Sadly, marriage records were few and far between. They could only be accessed in a limited number of states. For many states, California included, there was no access at all. Assuming the two sisters stayed in California as it appeared the rest of the family did, Glogirly was out of luck on marriage records. Oh she tried. She searched all the states that allowed access to marriage records. In fact, when searching Nevada she found her cousin Craig, the oldest brother's son. A Nevada wedding to a woman named Angela. Maybe a Vegas wedding.

Finding her cousin Craig and his wife Angela led to birth records for their three children. More and more family uncovered by the minute.

Glogirly had to get back on track. She needed the sisters. She had to figure out how to find their married names. She needed to get creative. Focus, Glogirly, focus.

Young Glogirly with her fancy white gloves.

Doing the Dishes
Young Glogirly & her adoptive mom.

She had a couple of ideas.

An obituary. If Glogirly could get her hands on her birthmother's obituary, it would likely list the married names of the sisters. Yes! An Obituary! Her birthmother's death record indicated that she had died in the small California town of Coalinga. She searched the Coalinga newspaper archives online. Nothing. Coalinga was only 100 miles from the San Luis Obispo area where Glogirly had found the rest of the family. Maybe she was buried there. That local newspaper had nothing online either. She searched all the cemetary records she could find thinking that might give her some clues. Again nothing.

So Glogirly did something she had not yet resorted to in her search. She picked up the phone. Can you believe everything she had come up with so far was found entirely on her computer? Not one phone call, yet she had already unraveled a lifetime of mysteries. She called the San Luis Obispo Tribune. She was transferred from one person to another and finally another. No, there were no records that old that she could access. They told her to try the local library. So she did. She was transferred only once and didn't even have to talk to a machine. She found herself talking with a sweet woman that sounded like the stereotypical librarian from her childhood. Why YES, she could request a photocopy of a specific 1996 obituary. All she had to do was put her request in writing with a $10.00 check and send it to the library.


They were pretty busy, the librarian explained. She could expect to receive the obituary in about 4-6 weeks. 4-6 WEEKS? Why couldn't they just email her a PDF? Or just read it to her over the phone?

Glogirly is many things. But she is NOT patient. She couldn't leave her computer alone. She was obsessed with looking for the last sister.

Back to Google, Glogirly's trusted search engine friend. She found a website called PeopleFinders is a subscription based search engine for finding people and obtaining public records about them. It's different from in that it's not really something that's used for genealogical research, but rather a way to locate more current information. Some even use it to find out where their ex-husband is living or get a criminal background report on a new boyfriend. It's a pay-to-play sort of thing. Glogirly felt a little seedy signing up for the one month trial membership. But it looked as though the information could be more up to date and relevant than much of the historical data found on

Glogirly started by searching for herself. She wanted to figure out how PeopleFinders worked and get familiar with the ways she could search for information. She found herself quite easily. Of course she knew her own name, place of residence, etc. When she looked at herself on her computer screen she saw something that got her thinking. There was a list of possible relatives next to her name. She saw her dad, her ex-husband, her current husband, her stepson, and also a couple of names that made no sense at all. Not everything was accurate, but most of it was.

Glogirly had an idea. Now this is complicated so I'm going to go slow.

First she reviewed what she had on the oldest sister:
  1. Her given name was Jeanette B. Beecham.
  2. She was born in 1924.
  3. She lived in San Luis Obispo county, California, at some point in time.

Next she pulled up the PeopleFinders advanced search window:
  1. She entered Jeanette in the box for the first name.
  2. She entered B in the box for the middle initial.
  3. She entered 1924 in the box for year of birth.
  4. She entered San Luis Obispo in the box for city of residence.
  5. She entered California in the box for the state of residence.

The only thing she left blank was the box for a last name. And then she hit ENTER.

Wow. Pages and pages of Jeanette B. Somethings in California.

Here's what Glogirly was thinking:
  1. All she had to do was click on every single Jeanette B. Something and she'd see a list of possible relatives.
  2. Next, she would search the names of those possible relatives in in hopes of finding a birth record. 
  3. If she found a birth record, the mother's maiden name would be revealed. (Remember the four pieces of information on the birth records? The mother's maiden name was the KEY.)
  4. If the birth record listed Beecham as the mother's maiden name, she had a match. The baby's last name on the record would be the mother's married name.

Only 18 pages of Jeanette B. Somethings to dig through. A, B, C...where to begin. She started with the A's. The first search went exactly as Glogirly predicted. A list of possible relatives appeared. She searched each of the names in for birth records. Mother's maiden names all over the place. Johnson, Swift, Monroe... Birth record after birth record and not a Beecham to be found. She kept on.

The A's definitely did not have it. Neither did the B's. But then there were the C's. Cotter to be specific.

The records were confusing though. She found a Jeanette B. Cotter, a B. Jeanette Cotter, a Blanche J. Cotter and a Blanche Cotter. Some of the ages matched, but others didn't. One of the possible relatives listed for all of these name combinations was Sharon Lee Cotter. Glogrly searched for Sharon Lee Cotter's birth record.

And there it was. The mother's maiden name was Beecham. The oldest sister, Jeanette B. Beecham was Jeanette B. COTTER. Was Glogirly ever happy Jeanette didn't marry a Zimmerman!

She thought there might be more children than just Sharon Lee. She searched birth records with the last name of Cotter for the infant and Beecham for the mother's maiden name. Now she was just showing off. She was a regular private eye. In addition to Sharon Lee, there was Patrick, Michael, Richard and Candace. They all popped up right away. In fact she saw that of the five children there were two sets of twins. All four born on the 17th of the month. What are the chances of that?

Just below the birth records was a sad discovery. A death record for Richard, one of the twins. He died just three weeks after he was born.

And another death record. Charles Henry Cotter, Jeanette's husband. He passed away in 1982. This meant that Jeanette had been without her husband for 25 years.

These tragic discoveries reminded Glogirly that the data and records she was poring over were not just names, dates and places. Finding Jeanette Cotter was more than just making her way through the alphabet. Jeanette was a person. She had experienced loss and pain. These records, they represented milestones and events. Some joyful, some private and painful. These records were the mark of a family.

Glogirly shut the lid on her computer and went to bed. She thought about the heartache Jeanette must have lived with. Losing a child. Losing your partner. Glogirly felt like she was somehow intruding into the private lives of these people. She knew their birthdays, the names of their spouses and children, she knew where they had lived and where some had died. Glogirly thought alot about whether she was crossing the boundaries of privacy. She needed to pause and make sure she was doing the right thing. 

Click HERE for Chapter 6 - The Local Rite Aid

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chapter 4 - Four Hours

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Well the story continues. Are you hooked yet? Do you want to know how it all turns out? Even a fresh package of salmon couldn't buy ME off. My kitty lips are sealed. You're just going to have to read on...

But first, if you've missed my previous posts be sure to check out:
Searching For A Girl - Prologue
Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day
Chapter 2 - So You Want To Be A Genealogist
Chapter 3 - Sam From Kansas

Glogirly cancelled every meeting she had, begged favors from coworkers to cover for her and shut her office door. She pulled up on her computer and dug in. Sam from Kansas had given her a name. Was Glogirly the Beecham baby? She hoped her self-taught crash course in genealogy would help her find the answer.

Young Glogirly
Santa Maria, California

Glogirly started by looking for her would-be grand parents. (her birthmother's parents) She found a number of Beecham's but none that were born the right year in the right state. None were matching the details of the background report.

The search engine pulled up anything that was even remotely close to Glogirly's inquiry, resulting in pages and pages of results. The search resluts appeared on the computer screen with limited details in list form. Each result had a link to open up the full item. Census records, birth records, death records and more, all mixed up together...there was much to sort through.

She found a Richard H. Buchman in the 1930 census. He was born in Wisconsin. Check. He was the right age, 40-years-old in 1930. Check. But the name wasn't right. Just two letters off from Beecham. The record showed a wife and three others living in the household. Two young children and one 21-year-old. Glogirly had found that servants or live-in boarders were often listed last on census reports. This 21-year-old may not even be a family member.

Hmmmm. It wasn't a full on match, but something told Glogirly to keep looking at this family.

She reviewed the details of the family members she was looking for:
  1. A man born 1889-1900 in Wisconsin, of English ancestry. In 1930 he would be 40 or 41-years-old. 
  2. A wife, 32 or 33-years-old, born in Indiana. 
  3. A daughter, 5 or 6-years-old.
  4. A son, 3 or 4-years-old.
  5. A son, 1 or 2-years old.
Remember, the other two girls, a sister and Glogirly's birthmom were not yet born. These details were all straight out of the background report and as far as she knew, they were accurate. She had checked her math 20 times in order to come up with the ages she was looking for based on the ages of each family member at the time of Glogirly's birth.

Even though the name was off and number of children didn't add up for this Buchman family, she clicked on the link to view the actual hand-written census report. Up until this point she was just reading the abbreviated information that had been transposed from the original census document into the database. Now she was looking at the real deal. The handwritten census report from 1930.

The actual census report
1930, Arroyo Grande, CA - San Luis Obispo County

There was Buchman right at the top. But WAIT. The census worker who wrote this report had very fancy, cursive handwriting. She zoomed in on Buchman. Oh my God. That was not Buchman with a U. It was Beechman with an EE. Richard H. Beecham. His wife was Nevah B, 32-years-old. Match. He was of English descent, she was born in Indiana. Match. Match. Richard's occupation was listed as highway construction. Another match. The children were always listed in chronological order from oldest to youngest. Servants and boarders listed last. First listed was Jeanette B, a 5-year-old girl. Match. Than James H, a 3-year-old boy. Match. Last was Frederich, a 21-year-old...son??? WAIT. It was the fancy, cursive handwriting again. The 21 was not 21 at all. It was a 2. A 2-year-old boy. MATCH!

Closeup detail
Large circle shows Richard H. BUCKMAN is actually Richard H. BEECHAM
Small circle shows Frederick is 2-years-old, not 21

All this and they lived in Arroyo Grande, California, San Luis Obispo County. A quick Google search verified the closest large town was Santa Barbara. That's where Glogirly was born and given up for adoption. That's where the closest Children's Home Society adoption agency would have been located.

Glogirly's heart felt like it was going to jump out of her chest. Now she just had to find the two missing children. But they were born in the 1930's. Without access to the 1940 census report, how would she ever find them? How could she verify that the Beecham's had two more daughters? And that Glogirly was the Beecham baby?

Think, Glogirly, Think. If you can't use a census report, what CAN you use to find the identity of someone. She thought about Sam from Kansas and the birth records he had sent her. She remembered the four pieces of information each birth record contained:
  1. Name of infant
  2. Date of birth
  3. County 
  4. Mother's maiden name
By now, Glogirly had been in touch with her cousin Lisa, the genealogy expert. Glogirly shared what she had found and they were feverishly searching in tandem. They needed the mother's maiden name if they were going to search birth records for the two missing children and know for certain they had the right ones.

Glogirly searched for the three oldest children, the ones listed on the census report - Jeanette, Richard and Frederick. Easy peasy. They were all right there. Most important, each had the same Mother's maiden name - Arthur. Nevah B from the census report had to have been Nevah B. Arthur.

Again Glogirly and her cousin Lisa were typing, talking and searching at warp speed. 2000 miles apart but together on the phone.

Glogirly pulled up the search window for California birth records. She left the first name of the child she was searching for blank and typed Beecham into the box for the last name. Her creative math told her that the next sister was born between July 1932-July 1933. She selected 1933 +/- 1 year. She was loving how exact you could get with the search parameters. For county, she typed San Luis Obispo, the same county from the census report. For the state, California. And finally, for mother's maiden name, Arthur. Fingers crossed. That was all she had. She hit enter.

Just as the search results came up on Glogirly's computer, Lisa called again. She had done the same. She found them! And so had Glogirly. Lisa read aloud the details they were both looking at. Glogirly read along silently.

Dorothy Lucille Beecham. Born May 3, 1933 in San Luis Obispo county. Mother's Maiden Name, Arthur. The same maiden name as the other siblings. MATCH. Dorothy was the missing sister.

Just a couple of lines below Dorothy, Glogirly spotted Alice. Alice Mae Beecham. Born December 26, 1936 in San Luis Obispo county. Mother's maiden name, Arthur. It was her. It was really her. Glogirly's birthmother.

The very next line was a death record. Alice Mae Beecham. Date of birth: December 26, 1936. Date of death: May 5, 1996. She was 59-years-old.

In the time it took to read just a couple of lines, a few seconds really, Glogirly found her birthmother, and then lost her. She was too late.

It took Glogirly only 4 hours to find them all. Four hours she will never forget. Four hours that would change her life forever.

Click HERE for Chapter 5 - A, B, C

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chapter 3 - Sam From Kansas

Hi Everyone, Katie here.

Welcome back to Another Mother. This is the story of Glogirly's adoption and search for her roots. She wants ME to tell the story on account of what a good storyteller I am. Plus there's some freeze-dried salmon in it for me, so...onto chapter three!

But first, if you've missed my previous posts be sure to check out:
Searching For A Girl - Prologue
Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day
Chapter 2 - So You Want To Be A Genealogist

What happened next will seem like months and months of genealogical detective work. But in fact it was just three days. Glogirly signed up for a free trial membership with She found the census record that her cousin Lisa had uncovered and began to familiarize herself with the information these census reports included and how Ancestry's search engines worked.

The census reports were fascinating. Unlike today's computer generated questionnaires that we all get in the mail, the census reports back in the 1930's and earlier were hand written documents with information gathered by census workers that would go from door to door, house to house, farm to farm. The information they gathered was extensive. They had a standard form and filled in each blank for virtually every household in America. 

Detail of an actual 1930s census report.

These census reports included details like -
  • Township or county
  • House number
  • Number of family members
  • Name (surname first, then given name, then middle initial)
  • Relation (head of family or relation to head of family)
  • Home owned or rented
  • Home value
  • Sex
  • Color or race
  • Age at last birthday
  • Marital condition
  • Attended school or college
  • Able to read and write
  • Place of birth
  • Place of father's birth
  • Place of mother's birth
  • Language spoken
  • Citizenship
  • Able to speak English
  • Occupation, and more...

Glogirly found that's database of records could be searched in a variety of ways. The most of important of which was a nameless search. She left the spaces for names blank and instead entered other pieces of information she actually had. Like places of birth, states or counties of residence, approximate years of birth and other details noted on the standard census report form to find families that were possible matches.

For practice, she also looked up the census records for her adoptive parents' ancestors. She quickly found her mom and three sisters. In 1930 they lived in Litchfield, Minnesota. There were her grandparents that died before Glogirly was born and adopted. This excercise made Glogirly miss her mom and dad all over again. She looked and looked for possible birth family matches, but couldn't find any with the correct number of children, correct ages or genders.

So she kept her focus on the family that her cousin Lisa had identified as a possible hit - The Arthur Cram family from Santa Barbara, California. Since Glogirly was born in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, this was as close of a match as she had so far. But there were still two children unaccounted for. Glogirly's birthmother and a sister.

She sure wished the 1940 census was available for public access, but that was a no go. So she searched birth records for Cram babies born between 1930-1936. Nothing. She found Cram babies born before 1930 and after 1940, but none within the correct time frame.

She looked for address records. Maybe the Cram family moved out of California and the two missing children were born somewhere else. Then when one became pregnant, she was sent back to her home town to keep her out of the public eye. To protect the secret. This was one of many scenarios Glogirly played out in her head. Glogirly searched for Cram babies in every state. Nothing. No matches. She was hitting a dead end.

Late one night, very late, Glogirly sat staring at the Google search page on her laptop. Not knowing what else to do, she typed Arthur Cram family of Santa Barbara CA and hit enter. She didn't think she'd really find anything, but had nothing to lose.

She found a Santa Barbara County genealogy message board. It was like a bulletin board that people used to ask questions and provide answers for anything genealogically related in Santa Barbara county. She found a posting from 'Sam' in Kansas. Sam was looking for information on the SAME family. Well Glogirly didn't have any information for Sam, but she figured he must know more than she did if he was looking too. His email address appeared at the end of his posting. But his post was dated 1997. It was 2007. Sam's request had been sitting out there in cyberspace for TEN years. Gosh, did we even have email then? His email address was probably long gone.

Still, it was worth a shot. So at 2:00am Glogirly sent Sam a note. She told him that although she did not have any information on the Cram family, she too was looking for anything she could find. She didn't tell him why she was looking. Just kept it short and sweet. She hit send. Expecting a return-to-sender error message, she quickly checked her inbox. It was quiet. It was 2:15am and she had to go to bed. The alarm would be going off in just a few hours for work and she could not fall asleep at her desk.

Just as she was lowering the lid on her laptop, she heard a ding. A you've-got-mail ding. It was Sam, from Kansas.

She couldn't believe her eyes. Sam had sent her a number of attachments about the Cram family. All really old information though. Pre-1800. He was very nice, very thorough, and very forthcoming with the information he had.

Bed was not an option. Sleep no longer mattered. Glogirly read through everything. But there was nothing that seemed to bring her closer to a match. She emailed Sam again and asked him if he had any more contemporary information on this family. Like from the 1900's. He responded quickly but indicated that the research he was working on was strictly pre-1900. He was sorry but he didn't have more.

Young Glogirly
Cowgirl with a Sucker

Young Glogirly
Mitts off her bag of candy

Finally Glogirly went to bed. She ate lunch at her desk the next day, searching on her computer, munching on a sandwich. She couldn't stop thinking about Sam. Later that night, she sent Sam a final email. She confessed as to the objective behind her search. Told him of her adoption and the background report. She thanked him for his kindness and generosity of information but explained that she was now certain she had the wrong family. It wasn't the Cram's.

Sam sent a quick reply and said he had an idea. It was a long shot, but he wanted Glogirly to send him her date of birth and the county she was born in. He'd get back to her the next morning. Glogirly didn't know what he was up to, but sent him the information and went to sleep.

The next morning before Glogirly left for work, she checked her email. As promised, there was a note from Sam. There was also an attachment. Sam had sent her the birth records for all of the baby girls born on her birthday in Santa Barbara county.

Each birth record contained only four brief pieces of information.
  1. Name of infant
  2. Date of birth
  3. County of birth
  4. Mother's maiden name
There were 13 girls born in Santa Barbara county on Glogirly's birthday. She looked for her own birth record. She thought her amended record listing her adoptive name should have been included. She thought it was a public record like all the other ones. But it was missing.

She scanned the brief records looking for anything. 13 girls. Wait. Then she saw it. Two babies didn't have names.

One read -
Infant Name........................Female Miller
Date of Birth........................July 19, 1963
County.................................Santa Barbara
Mother's Maiden Name.....Graves

No first name? Maybe the parents couldn't decide what to name it. Maybe the baby died before they named it. It was impossible to know. Then she looked to the 13th baby. She was reading as fast as she could. Her heart was pounding and she was breathing like she'd run a mile. Uphill.

Infant Name........................Female Beecham
Date of Birth........................July 19, 1963
County.................................Santa Barbara
Mother's Maiden Name.....Beecham

Female Beecham. Mother's maiden name, Beecham. This was a single mother. Could this be? Could this actually be Glogirly's birth record? Was she Female Beecham? Her birth record was supposed to be sealed. Not a public record. What did this mean?

She sent another note to Sam right away asking what he thought of it all and raced to work. His reply was waiting for her when she got there. He didn't have any answers. Didn't know if it was her. Said there was really no way of knowing for sure.

But Glogirly did know something. She knew how to search. She had learned alot by searching the census records. She learned how to track down birth records, death records, nearly every kind of record in's database. If this was indeed her actual birth record, if she was the Beecham baby, she had something she'd never had before. Something that could make all the difference.

She had a name. Sam from Kansas had given her a name.

Click HERE for Chapter 4, Four Hours.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chapter 2 - So You Want To Be A Genealogist

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Welcome back to Another Mother, the story of Glogirly's adoption and her search for the truth. This is a novelette of sorts. Something new for us. We don't really know how many chapters it will take to tell the story. I'm just writing it all down as quickly as I can so you don't miss any of the juicy details.

If you've missed my previous posts be sure to check out:
Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day

Glogirly couldn't wait for Gloman to come home from work. She was dying to show him the background report that came in the mail that day. She couldn't read it aloud without crying, so she handed it to him with her heart pounding and just looked into his eyes. She sat there watching him read it as tears streamed down her face. He looked puzzled...asked why she was crying. This is great, sweetie...look at all this information you've got! This is what you wanted, isn't it?

Well yes, sort of. But she was expecting a bulleted list with things like no history of breast cancer, some possible heart disease, wore glasses, etc. What she got was something entirely different. What she got was a rare glimpse inside the life of a family. The private thoughts and struggles of a young woman caught in an impossible situation.

The report did in fact answer some questions, but it raised many more. Glogirly was more curious than ever. Gloman was the voice of reason. He loves his girl so much and worried that if she took this farther someone, namely her, could be hurt. He was very blunt with her. He told her that if she decided to search, she had to be able to articulate why she wanted to search and what she hoped to accomplish. And if what she hoped to accomplish was finding her birth mother, her family, well then what? She needed to know her end game and be ready for ANY outcome. So many loaded questions. This was even more overwhelming than reading the report for the first time.

With so much to digest, Glogirly called her cousin in Portland, Oregon. Lisa and Glogirly had become very close despite the 2000 miles that separated them. Their mothers were sisters and best friends. Four sisters in all, but it was Glogirly's mom (the baby) and Harriet (the next youngest) that were the closest. It was special connection they they shared their whole lives and passed down to their daughters. If Glogirly's mom had been in the same shoes, her first call would have been to her sister. 

Glogirly's adoptive mom (the baby) and her four sisters.
Left to right: Harriet, Elaine, Gladys, and baby Eunice.

Glogirly's adoptive mom and her sister Harriet.

Glogirly's cousin adopted a beautiful daughter in 2002 and she was something of a genealogy buff. This phone call was definitely an interesting one.

Lisa was speechless. She made Glogirly read the whole report to her. Twice. There were tears on both ends of the phone. She had Glogirly scan it and email her a copy right away. Given Lisa's fascination with genealogy and her soft spot for adopted children, she was on this like white on rice. She told Glogirly about a website called

Lisa explained that you could look up all sorts of family records from long ago. People used it to trace their roots and fill in holes in their family trees. But don't you need a name? Lisa said she thought she could do a little digging around without names. Instead she'd use the place of birth and possible birth year for each of the parents (Glogirly's biological grandparents) to search old census records. Sounded like looking for a needle in a field of haystacks.

The very next day Lisa called back. She told Glogirly to sit down. She found something. But she didn't want to share anything unless Glogirly was ready to hear more and had decided to pursue a search. What, had she been talking to Gloman and his voice of reason? About all Glogirly had thought about for the past 24 hours was that she HAD to search. No matter what the outcome.

She played out the scenarios in her head. If, and this was a really BIG if - IF Glogirly actually found her birthmother or her family and IF she contacted them, would they be happy to hear from her? Or would they be hurt? Angry? Would this open old wounds and cause more pain? Embarrassment? What if it was a secret that no one knew about? Was she even alive? And what if there was absolutely nothing? No response at all. Glogirly knew that she had to be ready for anything. Including ready to cause a woman and possibly a family she didn't know more heartache.

So when Lisa asked her if she wanted to hear what she'd found, Glogirly sat down, took a deep breath and said - I'm ready.

Lisa had found an old census record from 1930 with a family that looked promising. The father was born in Wisconsin. Check. The mother, in Indiana. Check. Their ages matched within a year, give or take. Check. Glogirly was born in July, right smack in the middle of the year. This meant that if her biological grandfather was...say 74...when she was born, he would have been born sometime between July of 1888 and July of 1889. The same type of mind-bending math would have to be used to determine the birth year for each of the siblings as well as her birthmother.

Back to the census report. The mother and father's ancestry was English. The father's occupation was road construction. Wow. These details had also been mentioned in Glogirly's background report.

The census family had three children. Each child was the correct age and the correct gender. They were living in Santa Barbara, California. More consistencies. Glogirly was born in Santa Barbara! It all seemed too good to be true.

The only census records open to the public are from 1930 and earlier. Anything after 1930 is still private and inaccessible. According to Glogirly's math, the fourth sibling, a sister, and her birthmother were born after 1930. Somehow she needed to verify whether or not this family of interest had two more children. Two more girls, born in the just right years.

Glogirly did the only thing she could think of. She signed up for a membership with Lisa had gotten her started, but now it was up to her. She needed a crash course in genealogy. FAST.

Click HERE for Chapter 3, Sam from Kansas.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day

Hi everyone, Katie here.

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's Prologue. This the story of Glogirly's adoption and her search for the truth. I're expecting some sarcasm out of me aren't you? Well I'm holding my sharp tongue back and exhibiting only the best cat manners I can muster. This story is for my girl. Be forewarned, It's a long one. But I don't want to leave a single thing out.

The Dear Abby poem moved Glogirly, even at the young age of 23. She thought back to when she was only four years old. Her parents were very open and honest about her adoption. It was never a secret. From a very young age she knew she was adopted and understood how special that was. She knew there was someone out there that loved her enough to give her up. To give her a chance to be part of a family that could love and take care of her forever. A true forever home.

Glogirly & Her Adoptive Mom

Glogirly never knew a home without love. Her adoptive parents were wonderful people. They gave her everything any child cold ever hope for and taught her how to treat people with love and respect. Glogirly's mom passed away in 1987 when she was 58. Glogirly was only 24. It nearly broke her and her father's hearts. Glogirly lost her dad seven years ago. They had grown so close all those years without her mom. She admired her dad's optimism, humility, and his big belly laugh. He was her hero.

Glogirly's Adoptive Dad

Like any adopted child, Glogirly had an innocent curiosity about her birthmother and family. What does she look like? Where is she? Where did she come from? What happened? She never really expected to search for them. Deep down though, there was just something that tugged at her. She never felt empty, on the contrary. She felt so full and fortunate. She wished that somehow, someday, she could simply say - Thank You. Thank you to a woman she never knew, but who gave her a priceless gift. She admired this woman's courage. It had to have been so hard to give a child away. Glogirly was certain this woman had given her up out of love.

About 15 years ago, Glogirly filled out a Consent To Contact form with the adoption agency that handled her case. This consent gave permission to share her name and whereabouts should her birthmother or any other birth family member come forward with the same. If a match was made, the agency would contact both parties. Yet year after year there was nothing.

Just 4 years ago, Glogirly found the 15 year-old letter from Children's Home Society acknowledging the receipt of her consent form. She kept it tucked in her files all those years. Glogirly realized her name and address had changed and changed again so she called them to find out about updating her contact information. She was shocked to get a real-live person on the phone. She asked if any privacy laws had changed. If there was any chance at all of opening her original file. No. Everything was still secret. Probably always will be. The woman from CHS suggested she consider requesting a Non-Identifying Background Report. Although no names or any details deemed as "identifying" would be shared, it was at least a chance for some possible health related information. She explained it was pretty chancey. You never know how much or how little is even in the original adoption file. But a CHS worker would pull the file and paraphrase everything contained in it, of course eliminating names, etc.

Glogirly went for it. She sent them a written request with a small fee and waited. Six months they said. She had all but forgotten about it. Until the day after Mothers Day.

A large envelope arrived. The return address read, Children's Home Society, California. It was 9" x 12" and felt thick. Glogirly's heart was spinning. She waited until she got up the steps and then carefully opened it. She could see immediately that it was at least four pages long. Typed. Single spaced.

She couldn't read it fast enough. She couldn't read it slow enough. The details were astounding. Glogirly was consumed. There were physical descriptions of her birth mother's parents, their ages, occupations, and the states where they were born. There were descriptions, ages and educational backgrounds of her siblings. Two brothers and two sisters. Glogirly's birthmother was described in vivid detail. The most stunning of which was the revelation that she had Cerebral Palsy due to an injury at birth. It was difficult to read. There were details about an extremely strained incident between her and her father and much more. Glogirly's heart was aching. She could barely breathe.

So many details. Hair color, eye color, height, weight, build, skin tone. Intelligent, excellent student, interested in politics. Headstrong. Independent. Cares for children. Health concerns, diabetes, a description of her pregnancy, labor and delivery.

The last paragraph of the report paraphrased the heart wrenching decision Glogirly's birthmother had made. It explained this was a very difficult decision to make, giving Glogirly up, but she felt it was in the baby's best interest to to give her an opportunity with a loving adoptive family. An opportunity she sadly could not provide.

It was all so overwhelming. Glogirly felt an even greater gratitude for her birthmother's strength and the decision she made. She also felt a sadness for everything this woman had gone through. She didn't know, but suspected her birth mother had a very hard life. Maybe even a tragic one. Glogirly thought she had probably never married or had any other children. She was fearful that her birthmother was alone.

It was at that moment that everything changed. A child's innocent curiosity was now a woman's burning desire to find the truth. To find the rest of the story. To find a lost mother. A lost family.

She had to search. She wasn't quite sure how or where.
She just knew.
She had to search.

Click HERE for Chapter 2, So You Want to be a Genealogist.