Location: New Zealand
This is my story of how I found my biological maternal grandparents, after my mother found out that she was adopted!!
The way I remember the story is that after my grandmother died back in 1980, it came out during probate, that all 3 of her children were adopted.
My mother had previously assumed that she was biological because she was the oldest of the 3 children. She remembers her younger brother being adopted because her mother had not been pregnant when the boy had been brought home.
So it came as a shock in 1980 (just weeks before my 16th birthday) for my mother to discover that she too was adopted. It came as a shock to me as well. Suddenly I had lost half my family. Where was I from? I'm not sure exactly why but I became quite angry with my mother for not knowing, for not telling me and most of all, for not even bothering to look.
At the same time this was happening, I was also asking questions of the protestant religion my family had been raised on and I was in the process of rejecting it. In my 18th birthday I asked my parents if i could stop attending church because I no longer believed. They said NO, and as long as I still lived under their roof, I had to abide by their decision. This actually just made me more angry with my mother. I believe my mother was somewhat upset that I had stopped attending church. But none-the-less, I could not stop being angry with her. Finally I decided that it was time for me to leave home.
So at the age of 22, I moved to a new city, and stayed with my older sister for a few weeks until I could find my own place to live and a job. I pretty much cut off all contact with my mother, although I did stay in touch with my dad. He had not been adopted and I knew for sure who his family were.
In 1985 New Zealand passed the Adult Adoption Information Act of New Zealand under which adoptees aged 18 and above, could apply for their original birth certificates. My mother did not want to do this at all. She said she did not want to know who her family were. I think she was angry for being "thrown away". By her memory, she was raised by her mother for the first 3 years of her life and then adopted out. I do agree with her that it was cruel to have "thrown away" a 3 year old child for whatever reason.
Nothing much happened over the next few years until the Internet explosion began - especially after Windows 95 came out. My aunt and uncle did travel to the UK and do some family research to start looking into my fathers family. Noone could do anything for my mothers family because we had no information.
In the meantime I had slowly been persuading my mother to apply for her original birth certificate. My mother was resistant, mostly because she didnt know what to tell the counsellors. So I told her to tell them the truth. That she didn't want it for herself, but her daughter wanted it for genealogical purposes - which was the absolute total truth!! When my mother finally got her original birth certificate, she didnt even open it. She just left it in the envelope and sent it to me.
I was excited to receive it, but totally disappointed to discover that while my mothers mothers name was listed on the certificate, my mothers fathers name was not.
I set about applying for my maternal grandmothers birth certificate, and later obtained my great grandparents marriage certificate as well.
Soon after this I got married, and left New Zealand to move to Canada, where I currently still live. Naturally I brought all my genealogical stuff with me.
Upon my arrival in Canada, I discovered that my mother-in-law was an amateur genealogist like myself, and she was interested in knowing anything about the family, but she was hopeless on the computer. She asked me if I would be interested in looking. With all the new records coming online, I was more than happy to do my husbands family tree. So I did. It took me about 5 or 6 years to get most of it done. I even learned to read basic French too. French Catholic records for Canada are very well kept, and this helped me to build up a large tree going all the way back to the 1600s.
Eventually I had done as much as I could for my husbands family, so I finally turned to my own family. By this time the amount and number of records available online was just exploding and now I could search for British records much more easily.
I splurged on a county FHS membership in England from which I purchased a number of parish BMD records. I also purchased several CD-ROMS of census details for both my fathers family and my mothers maternal line. I was also lucky enough to locate the parish records for my mothers great grandfathers family from Cornwall where they had lived from the "civil war" era (1600s) to the late 1800s when they finally began drifting away.
By 2016, we had gone through 2 desktop computers, twice having to save all my data to an external hard drive in order to move it to a new computer. So I was thinking of storing my tree in the "cloud". But which cloud. I needed one that was free, and permanent and would not sell the data just to make a profit.
In December 2016, just after Xmas, I finally came across Wikitree. I'm pretty sure I had never seen or heard of it before. It seemd to be everything I was looking for, but best of all, it had a famous person of the week that I actually was connected to!! I signed up and within hours, I was connected to the wife of the famous person of the week - and the next day I was connected to the global tree. This was one of the best decisions i have ever made.