Many people get stuck on this. It's natural.
It's that all too common scenario when a story is told with such conviction, that you must assume that person is correct, and, remembers all the facts correctly. Or worse yet, you see a social media post and you must assume it is correct because the author is the one putting themselves out on the line? It is estimated that most of what is seen on social media does not accurately reflect a story or a persons' life. And, photos can be easily doctored, published without consent or taken out of context.
I've come to learn that more often than not, people do not remember the full story. They remember what they want to remember. They also unintentionally (or sometimes intentionally) create a new narrative that suits their memory and ego. I learned this quickly into my search as even for myself, could see that without paper and screenshots, I would not be able to remember exact sequence of events in my own search. This would result in wasting time and going around in emotional circles.
Here are my top 10 tips for searching with accuracy. After all, in the end, you want the facts:
1. FAMILY / PERSONAL STORIES: Often, these are verbal. That means, half of what you are hearing is likely not true. So, how do you get to the bottom of it? I've found that over my 21 year search, the best way to verify if a story is true, is to receive the story from 3 different people.
2. RECORDS: When in doubt, search the traditional way and receive records. Adoption Records are laden with lies, while birth, death and marriage certificates are typically very accurate.
3. SCREENSHOTS: No matter what, screenshot everything with date stamps.
4: CREATE A SYSTEM: Put together a system that works for you in order to organize the information that comes your way. Some people are visual learners and need hard copies, while others like excel spreadsheets to track. There is no right way to organizing your facts.
5: FAMILY TREE: As soon as you have a hot lead or a match on DNA, start creating the family tree immediately. Do not wait until you have 5 conversations and forget half of the people. Start immediately with chicken scratch writing on napkins. No matter what, get it down!
6: BE PREPARED: With all contact (telephone or in person), make sure you always bring paper and a pen. As I was taught in Brownies, "Be prepared!"