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James Bellert (#48157908)
 member for 2 years, 7 months, 26 days
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Bio and Links
Bio Photo I was born at St. Vincent's Orphanage in Chicago. I spent most of my adult years and much money and time trying to find my biological mother. Finally, in 1996, Catholic Charities SOLD me a redacted biography of my birth mother. I had also obtained a copy of the Decree of Adoption in which her name was listed. I was able to use her name and the redacted bio to focus my search and finally locate her and her other children, both legitimate and illegitimate. When I made that discovery I was in the town in which my grandparents raised my mother and other kids and the town in which my biological grandparents were buried. It was the microfiche of the obituaries which led me to the discovery of my birthmother and her family.

Unless you are an adoptee, I don't think you can fully understand the feeling of connection and authentication as a member of the human race I had when I visited the cemetery in that town and saw the graves of my grandparents to whom I was actually biologically related. I went on to do a lot of genealogy research, now made so much easier by websites like Find A Grave and I traced my mother's side back to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, in some cases back to the 1000's!

All that knowledge obtained because I found the graves of my grandparents! If I can help another person find that feeling of connection and authentication by posting a photograph of a marker or creating a memorial on Find A Grave to go with it, I couldn't be happier.

All is not warm and fuzzy, though. Not in my case. But mine is unusual as over 92% of all birthmothers welcome a reunion with the child they "adopted out." Illinois enacted a law in recent years allowing adult adoptees to obtain copies of their original birth certificates (but not their adoption records). I had always wanted a copy of my original birth certificate because I somehow felt it would give me authenticity as a human being. Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but it's a feeling shared by many adoptees. We weren't born, we were adopted! Well, virtually ALL of the entries about my birthmother on that certificate were falsified by Catholic Charities! Her married name was shown where it required her maiden name, her marital status was false, the number of previous births was wrong, and the address given as her place of usual residence was the address of the ORPHANAGE! The father's name is "Legally Omitted." That was legal lingo for "Bastard."

Learning about my genetic physical and mental health was only one of the reasons I needed to search for my birth families. It was less a reason for searching and more of an excuse to give to non-adoptees for why I wanted to search. At least non-adoptees might understand the need to know your medical history as a reason to search.

And the discoveries you make about health issues, both mental and physical, are not always what you hope to hear. My biological mother's family is rampant with diabetes and alcoholism, two afflictions I am fortunate enough not to suffer. And I discovered that mental traits may very well be genetic. Many of my biological relatives are reclusive to an extreme. And, that is one of my traits, I do admit.

I would do all the searching again, though. The greatest experience was seeing actual living people, and photographs of people, that I actually LOOK LIKE!!!

2015 UPDATE:

By the miracle of DNA studies, I found a genetic link to my biological father (on I was linked to a man who is my predicted second cousin. This second cousin gave me enough biographical information to enable me to determine the man who was VERY probably my biological father! Without going into all the details, I am about 99% sure that this man is my father! I've explained all the reasoning to my wife (an extremely brilliant woman) who agrees that he is in all likelihood my father. Unfortunately, he died in 1977 and left no other children. Also, I'm not sure how I can verify with 100% certainty that he is my father. The second cousin has clammed up. If I had just a little bit more information from him, I could be absolutely certain.

My father died at age 58 of a heart attack. He had two brothers who also died in their 50's. My grandfather died in his 70's of heart disease. It seems heart disease may be an inherited malady. I've already outlived my father and uncles. It sure would be helpful to know for sure, wouldn't it?

My quest for my heritage has been rekindled! Any suggestions are welcome!

PLEASE NOTE: In the spirit of being helpful, I had been posting obituaries to the memorial I created, and people often suggest I add an obituary to a memorial. But, I discovered a response by Find A Grave in their "Help With Find a Grave" section that obituaries may NOT be copied from websites or newspapers and posted to memorial unless you get written permission from the source to do so. I admit the wording to that response is a bit ambiguous, so I emailed Find A Grave to ask them if they can rewrite the response so it is more clear (they're considering it), and also to verify that I was interpreting the response correctly. Find A Grave replied that we may NOT copy and paste an obituary into a memorial unless we have WRITTEN permission from the souce. The written permission need not be posted but should be kept in case a problem ever arises. If you DO get written permission, then the rules in the FAQ response should be followed. So, this is why I will not post obituaries to memorials unless you have written permission from the source.
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Messages left for James Bellert (380)[Leave Message]
Claudia Prate Sigle
Are we related?
Dear James- Your heartfelt story of the search for your parents and family is on's photo of my uncle Clifford W. Prate and his wife, my aunt, Joann Prate. Cliff was my father's brother. I'm not sure how you are related to Cliff & Joann. Are they your grandparents, or is Joann your mother? Maybe we're cousins! I don't know much about Joann's side of the family. My family & I used to be very close to Cliff & Joann & their 3 kids, Pam, Randy, & Joel. But after Cliff died Joann took the kids back to Palatine, IL (we had all moved to AZ) and we lost touch. Leave a message for me, I'm excited to be more clear on how we're related and to help in your search for family, as much as I am able. :)
Claudia Prate Sigle
Added by Claudia Prate Sigle on Feb 08, 2016 1:44 PM
RE: Sister Catherine Photos
I will move the photo and thank you for sponsoring her memorial.
Added by Marianne on Feb 02, 2016 7:13 AM
Sister Catherine Photos
Thank you so much for adding all the photos of Sister Catherine Dominic. Its wonderful to see them. Yes I believe the ceremony is her taking final vows. She was my 1st cousin 2x removed. My grandparents loved her dearly!
Added by Marianne on Feb 02, 2016 5:54 AM
Cathi Murphy
RE: May LaMotte
Hi James,
Wow....I am also disappointed! I know so little about my Auntie May and since she didn't have any children, I don't know who ended up with all her personal effects and records.

Well, I wish you luck in your search for "your Auntie May"! Thank you for updating me.

Added by Cathi Murphy on Jan 30, 2016 12:07 PM
Michael Stanley Klimczak
Checking in
Hi James. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. I wanted to tell you that reading your detailed bio has prompted me to compose a larger one for myself. I do hope you've made some progress in the realm of genealogy. I recently hired a pro in Poland to help me locate some 2nd great-grandparents. How exciting!
Added by Michael Stanley Klimczak on Jan 29, 2016 7:43 AM
RE: Gladys Rose Detert
Thanks James. Sorry about the number mix up. I appreciate you checking for the correct one. Although I am researching family from the Chicago area, I live in Canada about an hour from Niagara Falls. If there is ever anything I can help you with up here don't hesitate to ask.
Added by JoDy on Jan 19, 2016 2:12 PM
RE: Gladys Rose Detert
Hi James,
Thank you so much for making the changes to Gladys Detert so quickly. I would be very grateful if you would transfer management of her Memorial as well as her husband Frederick to me. My Find a Grave number is 48165705.

Re Emil Rohde: I don't know of any connection to Gladys or any of the Rohdes I have in my tree as yet. My great-grandmother's maiden name was Rohde and as far as I can tell, Gladys' father Felix was from a different family line. I have stumbled across the name many times in my research and yes, it is quite prolific in the Chicago area. If I do come across a connection I will let you know.
Thanks again,
Added by JoDy on Jan 19, 2016 11:50 AM
Gladys Rose Detert
Hello James,
It was heartbreaking to read the story of your journey to find your biological family. It took great courage to share your story with Find a Grave Members.
I have just send you some changes to the memorial for Gladys R Detert. She is a cousin of mine and I have supporting documents for this information.
Thank you for including a photo and for all the memorials you have posted to help all of us trace our family history. May I have your permission to use the photo in my personal family tree? My tree is private on Ancestry.
Many Thanks,
Added by JoDy on Jan 18, 2016 4:50 PM
Natalie Smader 131861582
Wow - you have a fascinating story!
I'm curious if you are related to Natalie Smader Tarwid #131861582. I see that you posted a pic and I'm trying to tie up some loose ends on this side of my family.

Thanks for all you do!

Added by randrjones on Jan 10, 2016 1:13 PM
Michael Stanley Klimczak
RE: Checking in
Hi James. So sorry to hear about your silent cousin. Perhaps one day they'll have a change of heart; I hope the same in my case. Yes, Christmas is also a non-religious holiday for myself as well. I always think of it as a time to be closer to family, which is why I thought of you and your current situation. Stay safe as the new year approaches!
Added by Michael Stanley Klimczak on Dec 31, 2015 6:19 AM
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