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James Bellert (#48157908)
 member for 1 year, 11 months, 11 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!!!

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 (318)[Leave Message]
Judy Orr Hawley
Your own story
James-- after I posted the public thank you for getting the photograph of George Ruhnke, I read your own story-- what an amazing story! I am not adopted so how you wrote your story gave me a glimpse of what it was like for you to want to know your biological mother and for wanting to know your lineage. Thank you for posting your story!
Added by Judy Orr Hawley on May 28, 2015 1:08 PM
Judy Orr Hawley
George F Ruhnke
Thank you so much for getting this photo so quickly-- I appreciate it!
Added by Judy Orr Hawley on May 28, 2015 1:01 PM
Sandie Schwarz
Lawrence Nimsgern
Thank you James once again, this time for posting a photo I requested, on the memorial of my grandmother's cousin, Lawrence Nimsgern.
Added by Sandie Schwarz on May 17, 2015 2:52 PM
Stella Schroeder.
I put in her maiden name. Which REALLY is Schroeder.

Added by Linda on May 12, 2015 12:06 PM
Victoria Szabelski and her husband
Thank you so much for your quick response. I appreciate what you have done.
Added by Chris on May 12, 2015 10:09 AM
Mathilda Grafer
Thank you kindly for that. It is much appreciated.
Added by 4daLove on May 10, 2015 11:11 AM
Mary (Dwyer) Stroupe
Hi Jim,
Thanks for updating the photo. I'm sure her relatives that requested the photo are also pleased. Kathy
Added by Kathy on May 04, 2015 7:11 AM
Donna Gieseke Turek
Again thanks for all the photos you took at Union Cemetery for me. Appreciate your help in completing the memorial for my family members.
Donna Gieseke Turek
PS Many many years ago when I was young, I would go with my father and we would mow the grass and 'visit' with the family and my dad would tell me stories about the relatives--now I can keep their information alive for the future generations.
Added by Donna Gieseke Turek on May 03, 2015 3:24 PM
Donna Gieseke Turek
Minnie & Louis Leseberg
Thank you so much for the photo, I really appreciate your help. Not certain, but many of the headstones on and around theirs are my family. I am currently adding headstones and information and happy to be part of the Find-A-Grave family.
Thanks again, Donna Gieseke Turek
Added by Donna Gieseke Turek on May 03, 2015 2:27 PM
James Clair
Linda Dolson
James, thank you for the great photo. May I have your permission to copy it for the family genealogy? About your being adopted. I'm not but do know now you feel. I do volunteer genealogy work at my local library and every state is different. There needs to be universal rules. Like notify the mother of someone looking for her. If she is deceased all records are open. Obits are a big can of worms. I never list the living. Thanks again, Jim
Added by James Clair on May 03, 2015 8:22 AM
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