TV shows like Long Lost Family provide many examples of men and women urgently tracing family members who have gone missing after typically traumatic events. Over 5,000 Church family history centres in 140 countries can, and do, help people find out about their past and living relatives, and draw closer to them.
In November 2018 a nonmember made an appointment at the Invergordon, Scotland Family History Centre. She was a care worker for a local hospice. One of her clients was Agnes, who had been born in Glasgow in 1947, but at the age of four had been taken into foster care by a family in North Scotland, and all contact with her birth family had ceased. Agnes particularly wanted, if possible, to locate her sister, Dora, who was named after their mother who had the same name of Dora. Luckily Agnes had her original birth certificate, as she had been fostered, not adopted.
In order to help her, family history staff had to travel to the main archives in Inverness and look through Scottish records, unearthing her family history. Her parents had lived in Glasgow together for eleven years and had ten children, of whom five died in infancy. Records showed one child was born in an ex-Army POW camp used as temporary accommodation for homeless Glaswegians.
After the tenth child was born, the parents split up and the remaining five children were separated and taken into care in various places across the country. Research revealed that of those five, one brother died, two brothers were of unknown whereabouts, but sister Dora, whom Agnes really wanted to trace, had married, her last known address being in Wales in 2005.
All these findings were passed on to Agnes via her care worker, with the request for permission to make contact on her behalf with sister Dora. With that permission, family history staff contacted the secretary of the Powys Family History Society and asked her to visit Dora’s last known address. She was greeted with excitement as Dora and her husband had been trying for over twenty years to locate the siblings. They had found one brother, George, living in Scotland and were thrilled to discover that Agnes had been trying to find them.
Contact between the two sisters after the 68 years of separation was initially by phone and letters, and on 2 July 2019 Agnes, Dora, George and their families finally met face to face in the accommodation unit of Invergordon hospice. She states, “My life seems brighter and I am much more able to handle my health issues. Before … I felt a bit of a loner in the world with my own wee family. Now I’ve discovered I’m part of a much bigger family and that’s a good feeling. I only wish it had happened long ago, but I can’t change that, so I’m getting on and enjoying my life.”
Further research revealed that Dora senior, the mother of the siblings, left Glasgow for Fort William where in 1955 she married again and had three more children. Two daughters are still alive and further contacts have been made possible. If it had not been for the efforts of the hospice care worker and the FHC in going the extra mile, this success of reuniting the family after 68 years of separation would not have been possible.
We know family research can bring blessings to eternal families via consequent work in the temple. The story of Dora and Agnes shows that lost families can be blessed in this life by the same family history work.