A kick in the stomach when priorities are lost in genealogy

Today I was thinking about what I haven’t worked on lately. So out of curiosity I googled my grandfather’s address to see what his home looks like today. A few years have passed since I checked on his home.

I saw a towering brick building as wood planks leaned against his entrance. That brick building wasn’t his house. The only portion left of his home was the green wooden gate attached to crumbling brick supporting walls.

That picture was taken in 2013. My heart is going to be crushed when a friend e-mails me pictures of what the property looks like today. I have been meaning to write a letter to the owner to see whether he would send me pictures of the property and tell me whether anything interesting has been found over the years.

I got distracted with other things and never thought I had to worry about the home being demolished anytime soon. With my grandfather being born in 1885 in Russia and I being born in 1976 in the USA, I never had a chance to see the house due to time and finances.

So I am grateful that I had a local man in my grandfather’s southern Russian city take pictures and video of the property from the street 5 1/2 years ago. The guy could not convince the owner to open his gate to take pictures.

Now I appreciate having those photos and video from the street beyond words can say.

I found the friendly guy who took the pictures and video through someone who saw my post on the city’s Facebook page. That opened the door to connect with several people who have helped me with researching my grandparents’ lives.

This discovery of my grandfather’s house being wiped away has changed my priorities. My research needs more focus on the places where my family lived and those places that touched their lives before they are next to be wiped away.

It’s great and important to document the lives of our ancestors but to touch and experience the places of their lives is priceless.


Playing the waiting game to connect a Russian adoptee with her birth family

It took about a minute to find the family of a Russian adoptee on popular Russian social network Odnoklassniki. The struggle has been waiting for someone from the family to answer my message.

The situation has been a lucky break so far. Thanks to the adoptee knowing the name of the village where she was born in the 1990s, finding the family on Odnoklassniki was as simple as searching the village name and birth surname in Russian on Google.

Four people carrying the same surname in the same village appeared on the first page of search results as Odnoklassniki members. I immediately wrote to them about the adoptee’s situation and provided two photos of her when she was adopted by a U.S. couple.

The biggest advantage of using Odnoklassniki is that it can become the mousetrap for finding family in the former USSR. I know the exact time when one relative viewed my message, when she visited my profile and when she views the website with a blinking dot even without being friends with her.

I sent that woman a second message stating that the adoptee had a brother and his birth date. Hopefully, that woman will realize I mean business in trying to connect the adoptee with her birth family.

The rest of the family on Odnoklassniki will know I am determined to have the adoptee’s dream come true. If the four people identified as relatives won’t respond to my message, I will contact other relatives listed as friends in their profiles.

Someone in the family will eventually give in and respond to my message. I found another relative on another Russian social network, VK, giving my chances of a response higher.

It has been frustrating that I have not been able to find the birth mother nor father online. The adoption was finalized when the child was 5 years old so relatives had that time to connect with the child.

This adoption would be hard to hide. A relative in the village will recall this adoptee and have pictures of her hidden away. The brother was also adopted. A major event caused these adoptions.

All these factors hopefully will increase the chances someone will answer my plea for information so the adoptee can finally get answers about her birth family.

And no, I am not taking money to help the adoptee. It was my dream to adopt a Russian child. Due to finances, that will never happen for me. I am almost as happy to help Russian adoptees find their birth families.

Related posts:
On a journey to connect Russian adoptees with their homeland family

A bonus find for the adopted Russian brother and sister