Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Very Happy Ending

Last fall, I was contacted by someone that asked me to help her sister-in-law find her mother and siblings.  Denise was 55 years old and hadn't seen them since she was 5.  She had been searching for them for 30 years.  It had haunted her and greatly affected her life.

Denise remembers living with her parents and siblings in California.  One day, an uncle and aunt came and took Denise and her younger sister away.  The girls stayed with them for about a year before her father came to get them.  She never heard from her mother again.

Denise was able to tell me the names of her older siblings and approximately how old they were when they disappeared from her life, and that her mother's first name was Virginia.

I was able to find Denise's birth certificate and a marriage certificate for her parents which gave us Virginia's last name, that she was born in Hawaii, and the names of her parents.  However, the 1940 census for Hawaii didn't show any family by that name.  Other than Denise, there were no records of children born to a woman name.

It was a tedious search, but I eventually found a family in the 1940 census that had the same first names as were listed on the marriage certificate and had a daughter named Virginia.  I searched for children born to a woman with the same last name as in the census.  There they were...children with the same first names and ages as Denise remembered.

With the full names and birth dates of the other children, I was finally able to start tracking them down.  I got a list of about 20 possible addresses and Denise starting writing letters.  After about 3 weeks, her phone rang.  It was her brother Tommy.

Tommy explained that their mother was still alive and was living in Oklahoma.  Although he and the other kids weren't raised by Virginia, they had kept in touch with her.  After abandoning Denise and her little sister, she had married again, had more children, and also left them to be raised by their father.  There were 12 children in all from 3 different husbands.  Virginia didn't raise any of them.

Denise and her mother Virginia
Denise flew to Oklahoma to meet her mother, and the family recently held a family reunion with all of Virginia's children and grandchildren.  Denise now has all of her family in her life and the burden has been lifted.

I have so many questions that only Virginia can answer, but Denise doesn't seem to need those answers.

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