This unusual story takes us from New Zealand to England as Geoff Lloyd searches for his parents and, through JewishGen, connects with his cousin, Laurie Rappeport, in Israel. Geoff and Laurie each tell their stories.
My story began in February 2008, when I was living on Great Barrier Island off the coast of New Zealand, and I received an unexpected packet of documents in the post from the estate of my father’s second wife. The documents revealed that my parents, the Lloyds, were not my natural parents, but that they had adopted me in 1944 in Birmingham, England.
The news of my adoption came as a total surprise to me. Once I absorbed the shock of this news, I immediately began a search for my natural parents and family, not realizing what a journey it would become and how it would ultimately enrich my life.
The information on the adoption papers enabled me to locate my natural mother, a half-brother, and two half-sisters who were still alive in England. I tried to arrange a meeting, with mixed results. I met with all of my half siblings, but my natural mother, who had been told by her mother that I had died of diphtheria when I was 18 months old, was in shock and denial about my existence and declined any contact with me.
This story reminds us that our successes may not come immediately, and sometimes great patience is needed before we achieve results. Laurie posted her Isaacs family name on the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) in 1998; it took ten years before she connected with any other Isaacs family members, when Geoff, who was new to JewishGen, found her listing.
Many new researchers join JewishGen every month, so the possibility of new connections and new successes constantly increases. New participants will be able to find your JGFF entries, and new people may also post names and towns that are a match for your entries. So it’s useful to check the JGFF for new additions every so often.
My focus then turned to locating my natural father, whose name was not on the adoption papers. I made many enquiries to various agencies, including the National Health Service Adoption Unit, and with much help discovered documents that showed my natural father was Leslie Lewis Isaacs and that he died in 1977. Documents also indicated that my natural father and all of his family, both paternal and maternal, were Jewish. Neither my natural mother nor my adoptive parents were Jewish, so this added an entirely new dimension to my family history.
I was determined to make contact with living relatives of my father. Fortunately, I was guided to JewishGen, where a review of the Isaacs names posted in the JewishGen Family Finder led to a breakthrough.
Around 1998 I posted my Isaacs family name on the JewishGen Family Finder. Over the years, I received several inquiries about the listing, but none of them pointed to a common relative.
Then in August 2008 I received an email from Geoff Lloyd regarding his father, Lewis Leslie Isaacs, and grandfather, Joshua Isaacs, of Birmingham. My Isaacs family came from Birmingham, too – so this sounded promising. After checking with other family members, we determined that Geoff’s grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers. What joy to make this connection!
Geoff had taken a Y-chromosome test in the hopes of confirming his Isaacs heritage. A comparison with the same test by my uncle conclusively confirmed the relationship – Geoff was our second cousin.
I invited Geoff and his wife to our son’s wedding in Israel in August 2009. When we met him, it felt like we had known each other all our lives. Thank you, JewishGen!
Geoff Isaacs (2nd from right), his wife Jenny (far left), and
newly found cousins Avishai (center), Baruch (right),
and Baruch's wife, Mimi -- Israel, August 2009
The connection with Laurie and her extended family was the breakthrough I had been searching for. My feelings in meeting Laurie and the rest of the family at the wedding in Israel are hard to describe. They made me feel completely welcome and I experienced a new sense of belonging.
I petitioned the British Courts successfully for a new birth certificate to show my true parentage and to have my surname changed from Lloyd to Isaacs. This change of name was important to me to clarify my sense of identity and to strengthen my family ties. To further reinforce this connection, I am in the process of converting to Judaism.
Without the JewishGen Family Finder, my connection with the Isaacs family may never have happened. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Great Barrier Island, New Zealand and Motrone, Italy (Isaacs)
Tzfat, Israel (Rappeport)
From : Geoff Lloyd
To : Laurie Ann Rappeport
Subject : The JewishGen Family Finder: ISAACS
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008
Dear Laurie I have recently found out that I am related to the Isaacs in Birmingham, my Father was Lewis Leslie Isaacs (later Leslie Lewis Hyde) and my Grandfather was Joshua Isaacs who died in Birmingham in 1945.
Do you know of any living relatives in England? I would be very grateful to know as I am going to England in a weeks time for a short visit.
Kind regards, Geoff Lloyd
On 19 Sep 2008, after an exchange of emails and additional information,
Laurie Rappeport writes back to Geoff Lloyd::
My cousin and aunt, who are both involved with genealogy searches, think that since your Solomon Isaacs’ date of birth matches that of my ggrandfather, we might have a match. We’ll all look at our records and get back to you soon.
Does this mean that I’ll have a cousin on the Great Barrier Reef to visit?
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