A journalist once wrote that a small town could be populated with the people that I have brought together. A nice thought indeed to get to a place where all settlers are reunited people!
In my early 30’s, I founded the first private tracing service in Germany. Most of the clients were people searching for as yet unknown family members. Over time I concerned myself more with the issues relating to the search for family origins. Thanks to my one-woman lobbying campaign, I was actively involved in two legislative amendments. An example of this is in 2009 when the German Personal Status Law was amended. I was able to convince the relevant committee members that not only parents, children and grandparents should be entitled to obtain information about each other, but also siblings; in fact, now the latter can also request access to the civil register records when looking for each other.
When a registrar refused to release information, even though the client had the right to disclosure of records, I successfully appealed to the magistrates’ court to be provided with the requested information.
In this wonderful endeavor, I am supported by an excellent team who in some cases have collaborated with me for more than ten years. In many searches for fathers and half-siblings for example, we have had to manage with very little data. In some cases, the exact spelling of names was unknown and we only had an approximate sounding name to work with and the data provided by the client was often only a vague recollection by relatives. Thanks to our continuously growing experience and access to data sources from all over the world, we now boast a percentage success rate in the nineties.
My particular concern is to support our clients so that their right to know their origins can be more concretely and broadly exercised; at present, this situation is considerably better than in the past. Our hope is that the achievement of this right to know one’s origins, will also be enjoyed by those who need it most; in fact, those who cannot prove their paternity are currently the most disadvantaged. I am committed to ensuring that a birth certificate stating “father unknown” in the presence of a statutory declaration of acknowledgement of paternity made by a deponent that names the father, is accepted as proof of paternity by the relevant authorities responsible for providing information.