Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A is for ... ADOPTION!

Special thanks to Alona at Gould Genealogy for coming up with the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge!  I'm really having to play catch-up with this challenge, as I just started and I'm already about 6 weeks behind :)

A is for ADOPTION!

My maternal grandfather was born on 29 September 1924. I'm not certain about the next several days, but what I can gather from the documents that I do have, it sounds like he was abandoned at the hospital. On 8 October 1924, the Department of Public Welfare delivered him to the Foundling Hospital in New York City. The record of commitment gave his name as Joseph Smith. He was baptized in the Roman Catholic faith at the Foundling Hospital.

In an affidavit dated 13 November 1928, Sister Xavier Maria of the Foundling Hospital stated that no parents or relatives have made any inquiry about Joseph, nor had anyone made any provision for his support or maintenance. The affidavit goes on to state that on 15 May 1928, Joseph Smith was placed with the petitioners (Walter W. Gallagher and Ruth L. Gallagher). They were considered "persons of good moral and religious training and habits, and financially able to care for, support and educate properly" young Joseph.

The same day in November 1928, Walter and Ruth Gallagher filed their petition to adopt Joseph Smith. They lived at 132 48th Street, Union City, New Jersey. Walter was the manager of a restaurant and earned $75 per week.

This is the part that breaks my heart: "petitioners have no knowledge or information as to whether the father or mother of said infant, or either of them is alive, or if alive, their or either of their post office addresses, and have no means of ascertaining such facts ..."  If the Foundling Hospital had knowledge of the identity or whereabouts of the biological parents, they would have to say, right?

The Order of Adoption was entered in the Surrogates Court for New York County on 4 December 1928, and Joseph Smith was forever after known as John Joseph Gallagher. An order sealing the records was entered on the same day.

For years I have tried (and my grandfather tried for years before that) to unseal the adoption records in an effort to determine who my grandfather's biological parents are. Unfortunately, given the information above, I'm afraid that even if I was given carte blanche access to all the adoption records in the state of New York, I would never find the names of his parents.

It is my intent to try to find a back door into his lineage by having my uncle (grampa's only remaining male child) take a Y-DNA test and an autosomal DNA test, and have my grandmother take the autosomal DNA test to eliminate her DNA from my uncle's DNA. This (theoretically) should leave my grampa's full DNA profile, right? From there, I should be able to determine if he has any biological relatives out there. Someone please tell me if this sort of "process of elimination" is possible, or am I just dreaming?

Do we share any ancestors? Please email me at lostancestors [at] gmail [dot] com


GeniAus said...

It's so good to see genealogists from all over the world joining in this activity. Welcome.

I hope that DNA can help you find the clues you need to unlock your mystery.

Susan Clark said...

This spoke to me, Jenny! My husband is adopted and vehemently determined to maintain privacy and not investigate his biological roots. I don't understand it, but must respect his wishes. I only hope someone down the line can do the research.

Unknown said...

What an interesting story. It sounds like you've got a plan that should work really well. If you're using Family Tree DNA for the autosomal test, they have a "not in common with" feature that will completely disregard any matches your uncle has in common with his mother. Any other matches should be relatives of his father. I wish you luck and look forward to hearing what you uncover.

Unknown said...

Valerie - I'm so glad you chimed in on this, since I think you're probably the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to DNA. The "not in common" feature makes me a little more positive about doing the DNA testing.

Jill - Thanks for stopping by. I'm having a great time reading your alphabet posts (I'm a geek that way)!

Susan - I'm sorry to hear that. I would encourage him to do the research - even if he keeps it sealed up until after he has gone - but sometimes, depending on where he was adopted, he is the only one who CAN get it. Plus - there may be someone out there looking for him, too!

Fi said...

Very interesting post, Jenny. We also have adoptions and children with unknown parentage in our family tree. I wish you every success in solving this mystery.

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