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James Bellert (#48157908)
 member for 2 years, 3 months, 16 days
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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. 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 biological half sister might know more about this, but I need to know more before I approach her. 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 (350)[Leave Message]
Gina Prokop
Charles Felder
Hi James,

I admire your desire to learn your family roots. The amount of research you have been able to do is astonishing! Thank you for the picture of Chuck Felder's grave--my husband's great uncle.

My brother's girlfriend is currently on a quest to track down her biological father's family, but her father was adopted. Unfortunately, her biological father has passed away and his adoption was closed. Any research insight?

Thank you, please contact me at if you have any advice! Any help is appreciated.
Added by Gina Prokop on Oct 04, 2015 6:41 AM
Your story is very interesting and you are brave for sharing it. I would like to ask you some questions about Dennis Leo Harmon. Are you related to him? Please contact me at carla60626 (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Added by carla60626 on Oct 03, 2015 6:22 PM
Find A Grave Memorial# 121530304
I sent the obit as proof of the corrections I sent. Thank you :)
Added by BJK on Sep 30, 2015 5:45 AM
Keith Erickson
Mabel Anderson
Thank you so very much on getting the picture of Mabel's crypt. Your time and effort is very much appreciated. Thanks again, Keith
Added by Keith Erickson on Sep 15, 2015 9:35 PM
Jeff Albright
Luther Rose
Thank you for taking the time to get this photo for me.
Added by Jeff Albright on Sep 15, 2015 8:18 PM
Carrie Steigert Thomson
Margaret Hayden
She was my friend in my first year of highschool. Her death affected me dramatically and I never have and never will forget her. I wish I could obtain a photo of her since I never got one in highschool. I can still see her clearly in my mind but I wish I had a photo.
Added by Carrie Steigert Thomson on Sep 12, 2015 8:21 PM
Judy Wood
Jerome Smith - Lake Ave Cemetery
James - Thanks so much for searching so hard for Jerome Smith's gravestone, it was so kind of you to provide feedback. I read your bio on Find a Grave and can understand your journey to find your roots, thanks for sharing.

Your kindness is greatly appreciated.

Judy Wood
Added by Judy Wood on Sep 10, 2015 9:43 AM
Bobbie Jean/Ida Campbell
Thank you so much for your quick response to fulfill my grave pictures request! I appreciate your efforts and contributions to Find A Grave!

Barbara Parker
Added by BParker on Sep 10, 2015 9:31 AM
Jean Parris
Thanks you so much from his son and family Jean Parris
Added by Jean Parris on Sep 09, 2015 4:10 PM
I forgot to ask if you noticed if Gloria Piemonte Palumbo's husband was there as well. I do not know his name and didn't want to add another memorial if he was not there. Thanks, Jessica
Added by Jessica on Sep 09, 2015 12:49 PM
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