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Family Ties: Interview with Jenny Adams-Barbaro

Updated Wednesday 1st March 2006

Jenny Adams-Barbaro talks about using the internet to trace her family.

Newspaper article Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Screengrab

Were you an experienced computer user when you started searching for your father?
No, I had my computer for about six months prior to the search for information about my father. I had no formal training on a PC but I was already a good typist with a sense of adventure and an aptitude for technology! At the time I bought the computer we had a male au pair and he was a fantastic help - he helped me with the computer and I helped him with his English.

How did you go about it?
When I first discovered the Internet I could see that it had many uses, but searching for family members did not immediately spring to mind. I just got this idea out of the blue and typed in my father's name. I knew that he had passed away, but I wanted to know more about him and thought that the Internet was a good place to look for information about the Billy Cotton Band Show (my father was solo trumpet player on this programme), which would be a good starting point.

What websites were useful?
The Jewish Gen website was excellent. I had to really catch up with the technology to get into the message board on that website, but that was like unlocking a door once I had mastered it.

How has the Internet changed your life?
I go online most days. I really enjoy doing research. I also e-mail my new family and friends in the USA. I can chat online with my newly found sister who lives in Northern England. I have inspired her to buy a computer and she has a webcam, I haven't got one yet, but I hope to soon!!

Was finding family members an emotional experience?
Yes, it was an emotional rollercoaster for me after all of these years of wondering, and procrastinating, I had finally found the other half of me! I have begun to understand myself a little more through the eyes of my sister, Laura, who is able to fill me in about my father's personality and life.

Have there been any developments since Well Connected spoke to you last year?
I have found other friends of my father via the Jewish Chronicle. They have been able to provide me with pictures of my father.

Are there any more relatives you have contacted?
I have discovered that I also have a half brother, Gregory, who suffers from Downs Syndrome. I am hoping to meet him soon.

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Jenny's family photos Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jenny Adams-Barbaro

What problems might people encounter in searching for lost relatives on the Net?
They must be prepared to be very patient waiting for replies - It was nearly six weeks before I had my first reply from the Jewish Gen website and many more weeks before I reached my final goal. You must be prepared to accept defeat and even rejection and know that you can cope with this emotionally. I have been very lucky. Having found my Uncle, I was able to reunite him with my half sister, Laura, who has been able to fill in some gaps for him. It was as a direct result of finding Uncle Aleksey that I was compelled to find Laura - it inspired me to look for her as she was the direct link to my father.

Has anyone else contacted you asking for your help?
I have several friends who saw the programme who wish to find out more about their family. One colleague at work is tracing his family tree on the Net. It is not an easy decision to make as it can affect the lives of many people and cause much heartbreak. But if it works out it is truly wonderful.

How has the media reacted to your story?
I gave an interview on John Peel's 'Home Truths' which was very interesting. I have not really explored the media apart from this programme. Everyone who has heard the programme has said that I should write a book and I do hope to do this one day. The BBC in-house magazine "Ariel" published a lovely article just before the programme went out.

How has the Internet helped you to get to know your new-found family?
I am able to contact my family in the States by e-mail. This is much easier than talking on the phone as their command of the English language is not yet fluent. I can also send photographs and send e-cards! Laura and I have discovered Instant Messaging so we can chat online.

Do computers help in other aspects of your life? How?
I sometimes use the computer for online shopping. I use it to book tickets for concerts, flights etc. I did a great deal of research on education and my children use the computer for recreation and homework. I have signed up to 'Friends Reunited' and had a few surprises. I am also using it to write my book. I can store photographs on it although I do need to increase my hard drive.

Do you now feel "Well Connected"?
Positively fluorescent!!!!

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