Great American Novel

Okay, so I am writing the Great American Romance Novel.  I have put my heroine in a life and death situation and she needs knowledge of her family history in order to extract herself — but she was adopted and her birth parents know nothing about her real parents except that they died tragically young.  Fortunately, they do know a bit about her ethnic heritage and they believe a certain historian can provide her the information she needs — but he needs her family name.

So, my heroine must to go in search of the identities of her birth parents.  Where would she start?  And what helps and hassles might she find along the way?  If you or anyone you know has knowledge of this process, or you know where to point me online, please share!

Thank you!

46 thoughts on “Great American Novel

  1. Does she have a lead on a town or community? In many communities there are family cemeteries that identify the old family names. That tends to go along with people hushing up births that are inconvenient — but it still gives a few names to start with. And then you find the oldest living resident (try a nursing home). Many don’t remember last week, but they remember 40-80 years ago!

    Hope this helps
    .-= Southlakesmom´s last blog ..Five Words =-.

  2. ooh, ooh – and if the parents died tragically young in an ACCIDENT of some sort, there will be a local report of it…the adoptive parents should know where in the country they adopted her from…but the extremely smart heroine will have to narrow it down from there.
    .-= Southlakesmom´s last blog ..Five Words =-.

    • Kelley — I like the idea of interviewing older residents. I see the potential for some humor there. And the newspaper/archive thing is where my character started. Her birth parents do know what agency they went through to adopt her. I was rather hoping for something along those lines.

  3. I would say she should look for a man about twenty years older than she is with the same expression on his face as her lover. That may not be her father, but the woman who put the expression there will be her mother.
    .-= Doug´s last blog ..Babe or Baby =-.

  4. there’s the DNA registry, people seeking lost relatives or are trying to learn their heritage can get their DNA tested to see… a relative of mine did that and apparently her branch of the family is Jewish and no one knew it… heh it could be a way for her to determine her country of origin for her blood lines…

    If she has a rather rare nationality, she could go online and look for genology groups that are searching their own links to that nationality..

    I’d need more detail than that to come up with something else… you know me, I can work a plot line 🙂

    • How cool! I wonder if the witches in my universe would have such a thing? They inherently distrust scientists — you know, all that research stuff to see what makes them magical.

  5. Interesting topic, Quilly. My niece and nephew were adopted from Korea over 20 years ago. My brother’s wife is into geneology and wants to dig into their past, but the 2 kids are against it. Don’t know why.

    My niece was 3 years old when she was adopted and my nephew was 6 months old.

    I imagine you would just have to inquire at the adoption agency for info.
    .-= gigi-hawaii´s last blog ..More photos by Ted Trimmer =-.

    • Bill, Thom is not adopted. I think you were confused because Thom talks about his hanai (adopted) mother, brother and cousins, but this is not (though it can be) a legal distinction. It is a distinction of the heart. Thom has become so close to his hanai family that they are his own and he is theirs, but no legal adoption papers were ever filed. This is common in Hawaii.

      Thom was raised by his natural birth-mother and loves her dearly. He blogs about her often and she comments on his blog. Her name is Julie. He also blogs about his hanai mother and she can often be seen in his idiom photos. He loves her dearly as well. And, had Thom ever married his love, he wouldn’t call his hanai mother adoptive, he would call her mother-in-law.

        • Quilly ~ The comment totally went over your head again, I was being Facetious A Smart Ass, I was telling you to ask Thom as he is a
          “Know it All” and I am being Facetious on this Comment about Thom.

          Really Quilly, I sometimes wonder if you really know when I am joking.

          • Bill, I was asking for information on ADOPTION. You said, “Ask, Thom.” Any logical person would assume you meant you thought Thom had knowledge on adoption.

            And no, I can’t tell when you’re teasing. I cannot hear your voice or see the look on your face and there is nothing in your writing style to help me distinguish teasing from serious.

            Please note — Thom didn’t know you were teasing, either.

  6. Thom’s right (go figure). I’d absolutely advise asking Spock. He was after all always the Expositional Officer from a storyline standpoint.

    After forgiving all present for the various names I was just called *ahem* etc because I love you, I’ll admit I dunno. Agencies have various rules regarding privacy; for simplicity’s sake I’d just make sure the agency was rather relaxed about it, and simply hand over the original birth certificate. That should have parents names, occupations, dates of birth, home addresses, depending on what nationality they were of course. Then I’d go to the local library (you I mean, and perhaps her) and ask there because librarians actually *do* get asked this question fairly often, by people starting out on a search and thinking Research=Library which to some extent is true. A good public library may have a resource list available at the Reference desk, of organisations, websites, print materials, applicable laws, whatever, to help adoptees begin a search.

    If you get a bit stuck, there’s always throwing in a Plot Ninja. Maybe someone in the family knows more than they’ve let on all this time, and anything from a bad divorce to a drunken party makes that somebody spill their guts about what really happened behind the adoption, or what dread secret’s been withheld all these years, etc. It’ll get you out of all that research and maybe make the story a bit juicier. (not that it needs it I’m betting!)

    And definitely, two young parents dying tragically together (if it was together?) leaving a baby girl behind would have been big news, and not forgotten in any local community, so just finding a town or region with a matching story would surely bring information.

    Like I said, I don’t know. Never met anyone who went looking. But good luck, it sounds like a good heroine! What’s her hero like, and how does he come into this?
    .-= Susan at Stony River´s last blog ..Last Call =-.

    • Susan — I am writing an urban fantasy. My heroine is suffering the effects of a family curse — hardly fair since she has no idea who her family is and in fact was raised by a non-magical family. She has lived most of her life on the parameter of the magical society so the hero is her guide and companion as she looks for her identity and a way to break the curse.

      • Oh boy. I’m buying it! I have a cursed heroine in production too, much different setting and premise but I love the idea. When I was younger Charles de Lint was one of my favourites; I think he’s the one who turned me on to the whole magical realism genre.

        Good luck writing this one!
        .-= Susan at Stony River´s last blog ..Last Call =-.

  7. And back again after all that (whew, I’m exhausted reading it!) — I have a subscription to ancestry.com, so if you need help to figure out how to navigate that or any of the genealogy sites, I can help.

    Adoption records and dispositions are matters of state law — so where your heroine was adopted will govern releasability of records. This is a good site to start with to understand the vagaries of the different agencies, etc. http://www.researchingtools.com/adoption.html

    I don’t much like romance and I can’t wait to see the published version! Go GIRL!

    p.s. do you and Amoeba know about Geocaching? If you’re going to a state park…
    .-= Southlakesmom´s last blog ..Five Words =-.

    • SouthLakesMom — my story is going to be plot driven with romance on the side and I don’t care for explicit sex in my books so I don’t know that it’ll sell. Even so, it’s a great premise — with a bit of mystery — and I’m going to write it. Thank you for your help. I can’t believe you did that much work for me! What an incredible, unbelievable gift! When the book comes out you get an autographed copy!

  8. I’m not much help — one of my sisters placed a baby for adoption but it was an open adoption — the adopting parents met her I think some time after the baby was born, and all the records were available, they all met from time to time through the years.

    I do like hearing about the kids of things authors have to think through, though.

    I’m not much into magic, except maybe the Lord of the Rings and Narnia variety.
    .-= Barbara H.´s last blog ..Random Dozen #4 =-.

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