Bountiful woman credits Ancestry.com for finding family

Oct 18 2011 - 10:46pm

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Helen Wright holds a phone showing a picture of her and her twin, Peter, who were adopted as infants. Wright and her husband, Robert, seen here Tuesday at their Bountiful home, recently tracked down the twins’ biological family. The family reunited last June in New Hampshire, and Helen says it feels like they have never been apart. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Helen Wright and her husband, Robert, seen here Tuesday at their Bountiful home, recently tracked down Helen and her twin brother's biological family. The family reunited last June in New Hampshire, and Helen says it feels like they have never been apart. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Helen Wright holds a phone showing a picture of her and her twin, Peter, who were adopted as infants. Wright and her husband, Robert, seen here Tuesday at their Bountiful home, recently tracked down the twins’ biological family. The family reunited last June in New Hampshire, and Helen says it feels like they have never been apart. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Helen Wright and her husband, Robert, seen here Tuesday at their Bountiful home, recently tracked down Helen and her twin brother's biological family. The family reunited last June in New Hampshire, and Helen says it feels like they have never been apart. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)

BOUNTIFUL -- Helen Wright wasn't ever one of those adopted children carrying with them a sense of loss. After all, she and her twin, Peter, were raised as the only children of a storekeeper in Massachusetts.

"We were quite popular in the small town of Gloucester," said Helen, 67.

She led a full life, but as a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as a mother who wanted to answer her daughters' questions about their medical history, Helen wanted to find out about her biological family.

She and her husband, Robert, say finding her relatives was a miracle.

Helen's biological sister in New York had already entered part of her family's information into Ancestry.com, so just a week later, when Helen's niece recently entered what was known about Helen's family, "up popped the family tree," Robert said.

Heather Erikson, senior corporate communications manager at Ancestry.com, said initial efforts to search for a person's extended family are free.

"It's a really easy process to start your family tree on the site. We do a search based on the names and dates you have entered so far."

From her relatives, Helen learned her past, a story that portrayed the depth of a mother's love she never could have expected.

"Helen's mother was a remarkable lady," Robert said. "Her husband was a merchant marine. He was not around much nor was he very supportive."

Because she had four other children, then bore twins at home two months too early, Robert said he can understand her dilemma at the time.

Helen said she also understood the love behind her biological mother's decision to tell her other four young children that she and her brother had not survived.

The quest to learn Helen's story began because Robert is an avid genealogist.

At first, Robert believed he was up to the challenge of finding Helen's family through his own investigation, but no newspapers ever mentioned the twins' birth. And nothing was on the Internet.

So Robert and Helen petitioned the courts in Salem, Mass., nearly a year ago for information and got the names of Helen's parents. But her parents had died, so Helen and Robert turned to several sources that didn't prove helpful.

That's when Helen's niece entered the information on Ancestry.com and the mystery was solved.

Robert believes the discovery brought the couple a blessing that paid off in many ways.

The couple attended a family reunion last June in New Hampshire.

There, they met Helen's four remaining siblings, as two of her four older siblings have died and two were born after Helen and her twin were adopted.

"It was really interesting going back for the family reunion, because we weren't sure how the interaction would go," Robert said.

"After the first half-day, it was like there had been no time apart."

"It was like we'd known each other forever," Helen said.

The first time she spoke to one of her sisters on the phone, Helen said, the woman often paused for long periods.

Robert picks up the story, explaining that Helen's sister would then say, "You sound just like Mom. ... You laugh like her."

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