At this point, I started to see a side of my father I had never seen. To give some history, I am an only child and a daddy's girl. I have no problem admitting that I was a spoiled child. My parents had some difficulty having me and I was a preemie. In addition, in light of my dad's background, he worked very had to make sure I had everything I needed and wanted. He worked very hard to make sure I knew how much he loved me and how important I was. Even as an adult, my dad does a lot for me. We have lunch once a week, he picks my son up from school every day, he runs errands for me when I'm too busy - I am definitely still very spoiled. This whole genealogy project started because I wanted to do something for him. In the beginning, I had no idea how obsessed I would become or how life-changing it would be. At this point in our research and discovery, I started to see a change in my dad. It was like I was watching his identity complete itself in front of me. It was painful, but beautiful. I felt even closer to my dad than I had before. This project has become the greatest gift I could ever give him, despite that heartbreak some of the information has caused.
So 1911. There was a story in my dad's biological family that his grandparents were divorced. The story goes, Frank took the boys, Kathleen took the girls. They all lived in the same town, but if they passed on the street, Frank would cross to the other side and not let the boys talk to their mother. In the 1911 census, Frank and Percy were living in one household and Kathleen and Freda were living in a different household. Perhaps the story was true. Elsie was not living with either of them, but she was 16. We later found a possible record for her as a servant in someone's household. My grandfather was completely missing from the 1911 census. He was not in either household. My cousin's husband threw out an idea that perhaps he was sent to Canada as a child. He stated that there was an organization that sent boys to Canada to learn a trade so they could have a better life. He even found a passenger record for a Charles Brown, the right age, sailing to Canada. I thought he was crazy and dismissed the idea. What was the likelihood?
Back to my dad. As we gathered more and more documents, my dad developed a twinkle in his eyes. He was like a kid on Christmas when he held print outs of documents with his father's signature, his grandmother's signature. Those were his people and they were real. They were part of him and they gave him the identity that was his prior to his adoption. I need to be clear - we are not trying to replace my dad's current identity. We are not trying to replace his adoptive parents and the life they gave him. He was five or six when he was adopted and although five or six years does not seem like a lot in the life of a sixty-five year old man, it's huge. Those first five or six years are formative. Strip those away and you lose a huge part of yourself. This whole process is to give him those years. To give him a past and a family history. This process is to complete his identity, not change it. I am so blessed to take this journey with my dad, even when it is painful and does not have the ending we expected or hoped for.