‘Searching for Ancestors When You’re Adopted,’ a Talk by Dr. Penny Walters

Genealogist Dr. Penny Walters will present “Searching for Ancestors When You’re Adopted” at the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society’s monthly meeting on Saturday, May 15. The meeting and presentation will take place from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. via Zoom.

There are many reasons a child may be given up for adoption. As adults, those who have been adopted may have gaps in their personal history, and may want to learn about or contact their biological family. This presentation will discuss the practical realities and the excitement and pain of researching a “new” family. Some relatives don’t want to be “found,” while others have been desperately searching for years. Most people can ask family for information about their relatives, whereas adopted people often can’t.

Dr. Penny Walters will discuss the invaluable information that can be revealed to adopted people through DNA testing, and the resultant matches and ethnicity estimates that help to supplement any paper trail. Reunions may not go as well as expected, so some adopted people can find a lot of satisfaction in finding other relatives, or constructing an ancestral tree, all of which can help with identity and a personal narrative. Penny will reflect briefly on her own adoption story, and discuss the variety of ethical dilemmas that can arise when searching for relatives or ancestors, as described in her 2 books, Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy and The Psychology of Searching (Amazon). We will also discuss how people can sensitively help adopted people with their search.

Dr. Penny Walters has been a University lecturer for 30 years in Psychology and Business Studies. Penny’s interest in genealogy started after having her first child and then wondering about her biological parents, as she was adopted. DNA testing has revealed 94% Irish heritage; and fascinating insights into her children’s heritage. Penny lectures internationally in-person, presents webinars, and writes articles about a variety of genealogy topics including ethical dilemmas, the psychology of searching, adoption, ethnicity and identity, Irish heritage, and mixing DNA results with a paper trail. Learn more about Penny and her work at https://www.searchmypast.co.uk.

This presentation and meeting of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society is free and open to the public. The meeting will be held via Zoom video conferencing. For more information and to register for this event, please visit our website at www.sbgen.org. The meeting will include Virtual Special Interest Groups at 9:30 a.m., a brief business meeting at 10:30 a.m., followed by Penny’s presentation beginning at 11:00 a.m. 


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