Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Happy 75th Birthday, Cousin, Wherever You Are

Seventy-five years ago today, on September 23, 1945, my paternal aunt, Dorothy Mae "Dottie" Sellers, had a son whom she named Raymond Lawrence Sellers.  The father was Clarence Newcomb "Zeke" Lore.  This was Dottie's second child, and the second out of wedlock.  Although she had kept her first son, because of different circumstances in her life this time, she made the difficult decision to give Raymond up for adoption.

Dottie is currently 94 years old.  About the time she turned 90, she asked me if I could help her find Raymond.  She kmew she doesn't have too many years left on this earth, and she wants to reunite with her son if possible before she dies.

Raymond was born in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, New Jersey.  He was also surrendered for adoption in Cumberland County.

The state of New Jersey has closed all adoption records after 1940, and that's a hard-and-fast rule.  We have no way of gaining access to the file.  The only procedure available to us through New Jersey is to have Dottie register with the state and attest that she is open to being contacted by Raymond if he goes through the state's system to try to find his biological mother.  We've done that.

I have searched the Social Security Death Index and the Claims Index with Raymond's birthday, just in case someone who looked like a likely candidate would pop up.  No luck there.

The way a lot of connections have been made after adoptions is through DNA.  Mostly you hear about adoptees having DNA tests and looking for their biological families, but it happens the other way also.  We have all the major databases covered —, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, and GEDCom — with Dottie's DNA and/or that of Raymond's siblings, half-siblings, and first cousins.  So far still no matches on any of the sites.

We have no idea what happened to Raymond after his adoption.  He might have died as a young child or anytime between 1945 and now.  He might have remained single his whole life.  Or he might have married and had children.

At this point DNA appears to be the best, if not only, chance of finding Raymond.  I realize that in reality only a very small percentage of people have been tested, so the lack of a match does not mean he or his hypothetical descendants are not out there.  After all, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  I just have to keep hoping that he or one of those hypothetical descendants decides to take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about DNA.

And I hope it's in time for Dottie.

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