Helen Chisholm meeting her half sisters for the first time on Christmas..
(photo credit: COURTESY OF MYHERITAGE.COM)
With the onset of the holiday season all over the world, the Israeli online genealogy website MyHeritage embarked on a campaign to help locate long-lost family members of their site’s users and bring them together for the first time during the holidays.
Whether you celebrate Hanukka, Christmas or anything else, the holidays are regarded as a time to be with one’s family. However, not everyone is lucky or privileged enough to even know their biological family members personally, and no one likes spending this time alone.
“It is an unpleasant experience for a lonely person to spend the holiday season alone; these days are meant for spending time with families. That’s why it was so important for MyHeritage to speed up the process in order to reunite families in time for the holidays,” a representative of MyHeritage told The Jerusalem Post.
Helen Chisholm’s biological mother gave her up for adoption immediately after her birth, because she was unmarried and that sort of thing was frowned upon at the time in Yorkshire, England.
Chisholm – who is 63-years-old today – always knew she was adopted and loved her parents dearly, but after both her adoptive parents passed away a few years ago, leaving her alone, she decided to search for her biological parents.
After failing to locate her biological parents for several years, she turned to MyHeritage’s online community, and within a short time the company discovered that Helen’s biological mother is married and has a family.
MyHeritage located seven half siblings living less than 80 km. away and organized a meeting for the holidays.
“I always assumed that I had a family somewhere out there. But when MyHeritage told me that they found seven of my brothers and sisters and helped me contact them, I couldn’t believe it at first. Meeting them was an amazing experience,” Chisholm said after the emotional encounter.
Michael Wilson from Oregon always dreamed of meeting his father, Edward, who left the family when Wilson was only two years old.
After Wilson signed up for MyHeritage and constructed his own family tree, he searched for his father’s name on the site’s database and discovered another family tree in which his father was listed.
Wilson realized he was looking at his half brother’s family tree and got in contact with him. Wilson found out that his father passed away a few years ago and that he has not one, but four half siblings.
MyHeritage organized a meeting between all five half siblings on Christmas eve in Indianapolis, the city where Wilson’s father was buried. Wilson’s mother – Edward’s first wife – joined the gathering as well.
“I still can’t process that I am sitting together with my brothers for the holiday. This has been a dream for me and my mother and now it has come true,” Wilson said on Christmas eve.
According to MyHeritage, these are only two families out of many that the company worked to help before and during the holidays in order to bring them together for this meaningful time.
Based in Or Yehuda in central Israel, MyHeritage was founded in 2003 and has since spread to include offices in Tel Aviv and two offices in the US, in Utah and California.
MyHeritage provides services in 42 languages and serves more than 86 million users.
People from all over the world use the company’s platform to create family trees, upload and browse through photos and records, search through seven billion different official records from around the world and even order DNA tests.
Through these digital tools and features, and with the help of MyHeritage genealogy researchers, users are able to find out more about their family history, ethnic origins and discover family they never even knew existed.