I. REGISTRIES AND GUESTBOOKS

RECORD WHERE YOU'VE BEEN. It's smart to note where you leave your search for two reasons: 1) If you change your email address you will want to re-post or update your info 2) If you find, it would be a courtesy to the registry owner to let them know of your success. It allows them to either remove your post so other people still looking have less to wade thru, or to mark it as "found" to give some hope and inspiration to others who see it.

DON'T REVEAL ALL. Be careful what you divulge. Hold something back as an identifier for reunion match if possible. How many people will know the adoptee had a certain condition or birthmark at birth? Just two, right? Save it.

CONSIDER A SEPARATE EMAIL ADDRESS. You may wish to use a different mail box than the one you normally use for personal day-to-day stuff. If you then get spammed (usually by a private investigator like Sean and Dan) it won't interfere with the box you most often use. Be aware, if you take a separate box to use for registries, that most free mailboxes on the web (like http://www.mailcity.com http://www.hotmail.com or http://www.yahoo.com) will expire after a certain period of inactivity so log on at least weekly. Also- if you exceed the permitted storage space they offer, their system will begin deleting your stuff, so don't save critical files there unless you are prepared to keep up with incoming mail.

Both guestbooks and registries are places where you can review the search information of others and add your own as well. Many personal home pages have guestbooks, so there are many and they are scattered- thus not a potentially huge source for a potential match. On the other hand, if you are at a place with a guestbook, it can't hurt to give it a quick skim and add a short version of your own search. There are no major ones in particular to site, but there are plenty out there.

Registries are intended to hold lots of information, unlike a guestbook which is largely incidental. There are lots of registries too, most of them free. In fact, there are so many good free registries that it is hard to justify ever paying to use one. Registries require a lot of work on the part of an owner so if you have the opportunity to send a small donation, so much the better.

Registries come in all types- online (where you can see the info of others) and off-line (where you will see how to register but not see the registrants' info) and state ones too. Also- read up before you post. Some have an attentive owner who actively looks for matches while others will leave the onus on you to check back for your own potential match. This latter will be true of almost all message boards. Bookmark these sites so you can return.

oREGARDLESS OF STATE BE SURE TO USE THESE REGISTRIES:

ISRR (This is the FIRST place we tell searchers to go- it's the biggest and it's free) www.plumsite.com/isrr

Adoptee Search Center www.adopteesearchcenter.org

World Wide Registry www.adoptionsearching.com

oOTHER BIGGIES FOR FREE

Reunions On Line http://www.absnw.com/reunions/

Adoption.com http://www.adoption.com/reunite/

The Difference http://www.geopages.com/Heartland/Prairie/6743/

Genealogy's Most Wanted - Adoption http://www.citynet.net/mostwanted/adoption/adoption.htm

The Seeker http://www.the-seeker.com/

Angry Grandma's/Adoptees and Family Registry http://www.birthfamily.com/registry/

Adoption Connection/Angels of Hope http://www.kxan.com/~micah/adoptadd.html

oLIST OF REGISTRIES, SOME BY STATE/INSITUTUION http://members.tripod.com/rombergers/linx.html

oMIXED BLESSING There is a huge registry that many people on line hesitate to use it because they fear being solicited by the private investigative organization that it is affiliated with. Known as the "the old AOL registry", the "IL registry" or "Big Hugs registry" it is affiliated with International Locator, Inc. This is the company you see doing the reunions on daytime talk shows, flashing their 800#. There are folks who claim this registry found their match and they were approached and told "We'll do your reunion for free, airfare and hotel paid, if you do it on Sally or Maury Povich."

Reunions are stressful enough. I wouldn't want to do my reunion this way, or end up a spokesperson because I was desperate for my reunion. Your call, but it is at least worth checking to see if your match is there. www.bighugs.com or www.reunionregisry.com If you choose to do any checking out of this business before using their registry or their paid services, check with the FL attorney general's office, not with the better Business Bureau- apparently their office may be outside the nearest BBB jurisdiction. Get opinions. Is $200 a fair price for a "search kit?" Is $1400 per search with no guarantee reasonable, or what do you get for $3.99 per minute to talk with a "search expert'"? Ask around and as with all paid resources, you will get opinions to assist you in your decision.

I would not recommend doing business with any company that solicits you, holds your match for ransom, or does not provide a no find, no-fee guarantee. If you need to seek these out, join an appropriate mailing list and get feedback from fellow searchers.

oIN PENNSYLVANIA there is a large list of reputable registries on http://www.insidetheweb.com/mbs.cgi/mb145841 including the 2 state registries.

oREGISTRY ETHICS There are 2 known groups who offer membership to registry owners who meet certain criteria, some of it financial. They are SOAR and CARE. Some perfectly good registries have chosen not to join these groups so the presence of a CARE or SOAR endorsement can mean good things, but the absence means little. Their criteria are very similar. If you want to know more, you can find CARE at http://www.reunionregistry.org (note how similar this is to the International Locator registry- I think CARE hoped to be found!). SOAR's page is at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Oaks/3847/ Member registries pledge not to shut down without passing the info on to the group, and pledge not to sell their registries or the info of registrants within them.

II. MAILING LISTS

Mailing lists are a means of group interaction. It is not "chat" but done via email. If you are a listmember and send something to the list's address, a robot takes your message and distributes it to all listmembers. Conversely, if you are on a list, you will get all such messages. You can read, delete, or respond, and in responding you can reply publicly by sending your reply to the whole list, or privately by sending your answer to the individual. This makes mailing lists a great place to ask for legwork, support, ideas, and a host of other things.

You can't place a value on being in the company of people who understand your need to search. Many searches that might have succeeded have petered out when motivation dwindled. Being with people who tell you your feelings are ok, that it is ok to take a break, who prod you when you need to be prodded, or who inspire you to keep going is fuel for the soul. Lists and support groups are tremendous sources of such fuel.

Definitely join a state list (so you get info specific to your search) and consider a national list too to keep up on larger issues in the adoption arena.

It is far too easy now for people nobody knows to start registries and mailing lists so look to join those which are better established or run by those of decent repute. The springing up of new stuff on the net everyday makes your job as a searcher harder because of the plethora of places you need to check. This is why it is best to patronize the bigger and better known places and lists. Some lists and registries are owned by PI's and you may or may not be comfortable with this, while many are owned by well-intentioned but clueless people.

Some search/support major lists and people to contact are:

AIML Adoptees Internet Mailing List contact jenich@earthlink.net Emmary

Sunflower Birthmoms contact Alanamil@aol.com Alana

Both of the above are very high volume.

LFL (Lost and Found List) contact cmr2@mindpsring.com Cheri or Bmom2amy@aol.com Deitrah

Long-standing support list: Heart of Triad busterandbabs@webtv.net Bonni

Both of the above are moderately-high volume.

Long-standing b-dad's list: Contact Dawn at mavsice@aol.com moderator is b-dad, Don

Find a mailing list for your STATE at http://members.tripod.com/~StateMailingLists/index.html

Pennsylvania List - PAFind is at http://www.onelist.com/subscribe.cgi/pafind

Each list has it's own protocol in what is permitted to be posted and what is unacceptable. "No flaming" means no mean or personal attack posts are permitted. Some lists prohibit or permit NAR and SAR. NAR is "non-adoption related" and means anything off-topic like jokes, chain letters, recipes, solicitations while SAR is "sorta adoption related" where the issue is tangentially related to adoption. Some lists that prohibit NAR or SAR may have a special time set aside to let people pass around such stuff. Be aware that any list permitting NAR or SAR expects you not to go too nutz with this material, and too much of it can annoy the more serious searchers on a list, causing them to unsubscribe and for the list to lose valuable members. Also- if you join a list that has NAR or SAR on it and you don't want to read such material, look in your email program for "blocking" - it is usually under "options". Lists that allow NAR and SAR often require you to put "NAR" or "SAR" in the subject line of your email. You can set up your email blocks to deliver anything with these words in the subject line to your trash can.

Most lists will let you choose whether to get "regular or digest" options. "Regular" means that you will get each and every email sent to the list members. This is good because you get stuff fast and timely. This is bad because you may get a lot of messages this way depending on the list in question and how high the traffic is. "Digest" means you will get one or two big emails a day that contain all the individual messages. This is easier to manage for some people and makes for quicker reading since you don't have to open, read, reply or discard each email. This is bad in that because it saves stuff up you won't get postings on a timely basis (they could be as old as 24 hours). It also means that you can't hit "reply" if you want to respond to someone (if you hit reply, the whole big digest shows up in your reply which will annoy others, and stuff their mailboxes). What you have to do is start a fresh email.

Some lists will require you to use your ISP mailbox to minimize the odds you are faking an identity. It is common for private investigators to try to get on lists and get people's email addys, and then send them a solicitation. You can always delete this, but should know it can happen.

If you go on vacation you may want to either stop your list mail or switch to digest depending on how much mailbox space you have and how long you will be away. In many cases (like any list thru Onelist) you can adjust your mail yourself by going to the site and logging in. If you are unsure, contact your list owner. Don't send a note to the whole list- it's rude to nail everyone's boxes for your personal need that is not related to the purpose of the list. If you have an autoresponder on your mailbox (an automatic message saying "Hi, this is Jen, I am on vacation untilů") either turn the autoresponder off or take yourself off the list while away. Otherwise, every time a piece of list mail hits your mailbox, the whole list is going to get your vacation message, and they will not be happy about it.

Many lists maintain archives- that is, past digests you can look thru to learn about other matters not currently in discussion. These are usually only available to listmembers. Many archives are searchable, meaning you can enter a key phrase or word to bring up all former digests that contain this item. If you wanted to see all old posts that had anything to do with, say, Philadelphia, then you would enter that and be given a list of all digests that mentioned that word. Going thru can be time consuming, but you may learn something. It can't hurt to mention your hometown, hospital, or birthdate of search either. Just remember that January 5, 1960 can be written that way, or Jan. 5, 1960, or 1/5/1960 or 1/5/60 or 01/05/1960 or 01/05/60 or (especially in Europe) 5 January 1960.

Lastly, don't think just because you are searching that you should be silent, or are at everyone's mercy and have nothing to offer. At least post your search info periodically! Every human has a heart and can offer support to someone who is down, so help your fellow listmates. You will have picked things up in your search that will help others. Sometimes the best thing to do for your own head is to help someone else. Lists are give and take, so try to give where you can. It's especially cool when a list has a lot of people who have already finished their personal searches but have stuck around to help others. On my list we have people who have found both good and bad at the end of their searches, found people living or dead- and these people have no personal gain in staying- they just want to do the right thing. Consider doing this- it's a way to give back, it feels great, and it helps make the next guy's way a little easier than yours was.

III. NEWSGROUPS AND CHATROOMS

Adoption news groups are not a great source of info because the information is transitory and frequently false. Flame-battles rage, people use fake email addresses, spread rumors, and argue downright personally and critically. The anonymity leads to slander and people often at their worst. Nasty items on here often get picked up and spread to lists, so you will be likely to see the "good" stuff anyhow without visiting here. Still, newsgroups reach many people and have entertainment value, so you may want to check them out from time to time.

One easy way to access newsgroups is through www.deja.com You will find a box to enter a topic you seek, and if you enter "adoption " you'll get a few options like alt.adoption or alt.adoption.searching and some more. These two are probably the biggest newsgroups in your interest area.

If you look carefully at how the "threads" are constructed, you will be able to see which responses were sent to which replies. You will also see that if you look at one post from "JackEagle" for example, you have the options of getting a list of everything JackEagle has ever posted, which can be interesting if Jack is bright and articulate, and amusing if Jack is a jerk.

You are not likely to find a lot here to help in your search. Most people seem to be having pseudo-intellectual conversations, arguing, or advertising their wares. If you post your search info here, be prepared to potentially hear from a bunch of PI's. Again, you may wish to use an alternate email address rather than your everyday one. Sometimes you will catch a real and intelligent exchange, but that's unfortunately the exception. Consider newsgroups a funky little thing to check on periodically, but don't let them get you sidetracked. It is tempting to get sucked into discussions rather than face your own search realities.

The one redeeming factor here is the "search" function. There are several, but most people like to use "Power Search" which is at the bottom right of the regular search box. You could ask for a search in several newsgroups or just one, and you can choose the terms it will look for. This could potentially show you all the postings relating to Pennsylvania and adoption, for example. Or, if you want, you could try searching with the same items above, hospital name, town name, and date of birth with all its permutations.

Chatrooms are all over the place. It's on many pages and again, these can be interesting but rarely helpful in search. Same deal with anonymity- it lets people say anything. PI's are known to frequent busy chat rooms trolling for business, and they are likely to appear as a former "satisfied customer" giving you a tip. Some chat sites are even hosted openly by PI's and search companies to allow you to interact with "professional searchers" who are also sales reps trying to get you interested in their services. I have visited these and every time I asked about guarantees, refunds, or what would happen if I found while they were still looking I got thrown out. Surprised? Still, chatrooms have a place if you need real-time exchanges with another searcher and you can't get to a support group.

IV. SEARCH ENGINES

Search engines are the 'card catalogues" of the web library. These are worth using in your search for all kinds of direct and indirect bits of info you have. Want to know about your town of birth, the hospital or the agency? See if they have a web page. Many counties, states, towns, schools, agencies, and employers have them. I completed one search because I had the adoptee's current name and could not find it in white page because the phone was listed in her husband's name. I entered her name in a search engine. It led me to a page for an engineering company and there she was, with her email addy, on their employee list.

Each search engine works a bit differently but the concept is the same- enter a key word and the engine will return web pages with that word on it. It is often helpful to refine your search by entering a phrase or combination of words, but read up on how to do this at the search engine in question. You might enter (TYPED AS IT IS BELOW, WITH QUOTES AS SHOWN):

"Pennsylvania" and "adoption"

and the search engine will look for all the pages that have BOTH words on them.

You might enter:

"Our Lady of Victory" (a whole phrase, in quotes so the engine looks for all the words in this order that are in quotes)

and the engine would find pages with that phrase.

In some search engines you could enter:

+relinquishment

and the + sign you put in would force the word behind it to appear in boldface or in a different text color so you can find it easily.

Some search engines are actually multiple search engines- that is, they check several search engines for you so you don't have to go to each one and type the same thing over and over, or at least all the engines are on one page to save you flipping thru pages.

Multiples include:

www.dmoz.com www.dogpile.com www.mamma.com www.accufind.com

and a good one for newbies is www.askjeeves.com because it allows the user to ask a question in plain English and intuits the answer from the question. You may or may not find it intuits well!

Some of the single major search engines include:

www.hotbot.com www.yahoo.com www.excite.com www.altavista.com www.webcrawler.com www.snap.com www.lycos.com

There's also an oddball one that brings different results than most that is worth checking- www.re-quest.net

V. PRIVATE EYES

We didn't get into PI's a lot other than to say how they might solicit you. Like any, there are good and bad in every bunch. There's a whole pantheon of them known to old-timers on the net. Unfortunately with a few exceptions, most known PI's are known because of bad stories about how people lost money through them or got spammed to death by them. It's the same theory in business- word gets out when people get screwed.

No comment: PI's you may have heard of include Troy Dunn or International Locator, Sean and Dan Doherty, Norma Tilman, Ivan Buchanan, Paul Brown. Get opinions before hiring anyone.

If you look around, you may find you can work with some PI's on a no-find/no-fee guarantee. While most of them are expensive you will come home with either answers or your money, which is not true with many PI's.

Do your best to get second and third opinions on anyone you might consider using. That's another reason mailing lists can be so helpful. Be aware that PA as a state is pretty tight with info of ALL kinds, not just adoption, so often a searcher who could find in a heartbeat in California (because they could access the whole CA driver's license database) might come up empty-handed in PA (where this info isn't available).

Some people who have access to some databases and may offer to do data runs for you- like a first name/date of birth search. Gest several quotes fo anything like this. This is a shot that may or may not work, and again, the info the state of PA may have contributed to the database they use could be limited. Some searchers say your shot is BETTER if someone has LEFT PA. In any case, do it if you can afford the gamble and can afford to lose because it could happen. Most data runs and companies like 1-800-US-SEARCH are going to give you a big list of people and then you have to go through it. You could make calls or do a mailing to them all, but some of these lists will be huge and unmanageable. You'd have a massive list if you ordered all the John's born on a given date, while the same search for a Fiona may produce fewer and more accurate results.

While AIML is a good mailing list, there is one "grain of salt" thing to watch. AIML has a website page where people can post good or bad things about a searcher they have used. It is possible that PI's use the page to slander their competition, or that PI's post wonderful things about themselves here posing as happy past clients, so don't take it too seriously if you come across it. One person who was sincerely ripped off by a searcher posted it on there, and it was gone within a few weeks- maybe her post was adjudged to be somehow wrong. In any case, it's unlikely this page tells the whole story.

For some caveats on choosing a PI or searcher read http://members.tripod.com/rombergers/searcher.html and pay attention to guarantees! When they say "We'll keep looking til we find" does it mean they hold your money and swear til the day you die that they are "still looking"?

VI. THE SSDI - Social Security Death Index

We didn't have time to cover this tool, and if you don't know it you should. The SSDI will list most dead Americans who got Social Security payments. Read the criteria for inclusion on the SSDI at the site you use to make sure the person you hope to find is likely to be on it.

Usually you are hoping to NOT find someone on here, but sometimes it's a great way to find ancestors of the person you seek. The SSDI will then often show you the dead person's last place of residence or where the last SS check was sent. This place will give you a location to get an obituary, and the obituary will tell you who the survivors of the deceased were and where they lived at the time. (Generally you can get the obit from the biggest paper in the town, or by arranging an inter-library loan between that town's library and your own.)

The SSDI is great because you can search with bits of info. If you know her name was Sara and she was born in PA in 1933, you'll get a whole list of all the people who qualify. If you know she was born in ID and later moved to PA, you might do a search for all the above and fill in "issuing state" with "ID" in case she had her first job there. It used to be people got their SS cards when they needed them or when they started working, but more and more these are being issued in infancy. Just remember it hasn't always been this way.

You know he was born June 12, 1920- you may find him, without a name.

You can use the SSDI just to make yourself feel better. It is nice to do a lookup and see no one who seems to be the one you seek.

Go play and mess around with it. You will see how little you have to know to get some answers.

There are several versions of the SSDI on line. Probably the most-used is at www.ancestry.com which is a wonderful site in itself that you should explore. There are lots of resources there- you can see all kinds of free databases, share genealogy files with other "amateurs" and post on (or start) a free message board for your family.

To use the SSDI at Ancestry.com click on where it says "Most popular databases" or use this direct link http://www.ancestry.com/search/ssdi/ssdi_index.asp . When you get there, use the "advanced search" because that will give you all the different odd bits of info you can search with. Play with this thing til you get the hang of it- it's a great tool. Find your dead aunt or whoever and see how little you need to know to find her. You don't need to fill in ALL the boxes to get results.

Be aware on this SSDI- if ever you get a result on your screen that shows a few qualified results and across the middle of your screen you see the alphabet- what it is telling you is that the results you are seeing right now are just for this particular letter of the alphabet and YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON EACH LETTER TO SEE THE RESULTS FOR IT. This is tedious indeed (the darn thing doesn't even skip letters that have NO results) but better you should check A thru Z than just check "A" and think you're done. So, you click on "B" and see the results, then click on "C" and see none, so you hit your back button, then hit "D" and so on. Wouldn't it be great if someone would put their brain to work on this for us all?

Other SSDI's on line include:

http://209.140.72.162/cgi-bin/genealogy/dossdi?-1+0+English

http://www.familytreemaker.com/fto_ssdisearch.html

Pay attention- though theoretically they all have the same info, the frequency with which they are updated varies, so check this info out first!

VII. PEOPLE FINDERS

There's loads of these and they are often called "lookups" or "white pages" too. These sites minimally offer you the chance to enter a last name and get addresses and phone numbers for people who match. Some will allow you to put in a phone number and get an address (called a reverse lookup). Some will have a way to enter a name and see people who have emails that match. Others will let you enter a street name and get all the folks who live on that street (this is usually under "advanced" functions).

Here's a list of some to try.

Multi-searcher - www.theultimates.com searches several people finders quickly for you.

Others- www.whowhere.com www.anywho.com (neighborhood searches is under advanced) www.infospace.com (has emails and neighborhood searches) www.yahoo.com - click on "People Search" www.four11.com www.bigfoot.com (has emails) www.411.com (you must have a state for this one) www.555-1212.com www.switchboard.com

The next two are not highly popular but they seem to turn up different info than most:

www.iglou.com/iirs_investigate/searches/people.html www.populus.com

You may also want to try using a regular search engine to find sites with listings on "unclaimed property". It's a long shot, but you never know who might be listed there. I have heard of one match being made this way.

You should also explore www.findme.org and www.whome.com The latter is especially cool because once you enter your info you can set it up so that if anyone comes close to your search criteria you will be sent their info.

Remember that there's a difference between a non-published and non-listed phone number. It may not be in your phone directory but that doesn't mean directory assistance won't have it.

This is not a recommendation- no personal experience with this, BUT- according to the site, the maintainer will guarantee to get a listing for you based on several criteria, including nonpublished and unlisted numbers. The site is at www.4private-investigator.com/phones1.htm Fees vary by type of search done.

VIII. OTHER NET STUFF to think about.

Read interesting or notable sites just to keep your spirits and attitude high and stay informed. Some folks go to online newspapers like the NY Times and search for adoption just to see what's new.

You'll find plenty just cruising around. You may want to type "adoption" into a search engine" or you can hop on a webring and go from adoption site to site to site. A few to try are on http://members.tripod.com/rombergers/ringsandawards.html but a more complete list can be had by going to http://www.webring.org/ and doing a search on "adoption" there.

Some personal website favorites-

How can you not laugh at "Little Orphan Asskicker" at www.bastards.org (Bastard Nation)?

Have a laugh on the chief proponent of closed records today (the NCFA at http://www.ncfa-usa.org/) by reading a parody of their site at http://ncfi.ourfamily.com/

Laugh at the frustration of one person's search (yes, they want you to laugh) http://adoptionpennsylvania.freeservers.com/

Get deep with a well told personal tale and some key adoption issues at An Unconventional Site at http://users.neca.com/mjcop/

Take a good look at records arguments at Center for Adoptee Rights http://www.netaxs.com/~sparky/adoption/rights.htm

There's a bunch of reputable adoption reform organization listed at http://members.tripod.com/rombergers/linx.html

PA Search Menu - http://members.tripod.com/rombergers/main.html

Be wary of sites offering search or law info for all 50 states. Such sites are very ambitious and well meaning, but almost impossible to keep updated. The best info usually will be from a site and list that is state focussed.

Be wary of freaky sites that sound to bizarre to be true. This is a joke - don't get all bent out of shape! http://members.tripod.com/Robb_Eurytes/ Robb Eurytes = "rob your rights", get it? Nancy Effay = NCFA


On the other hand, watch out for random spewings: This was meant seriously but is brain salad: htt

http://www.bastards.org/fun/celesta.htm You may also be shocked or appalled by the ramblings of young Jessica at http://cgi2.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/5991/

IX. OTHER RANDOM TIPS

ATTACHMENTS AND VIRUSES: Unless you have WebTV (and therefore no hard drive) you can get computer viruses by opening attachments in emails if they contain a virus. You can't get a virus just opening an email- it's the attachments that can be risky. Many mailing lists don't permit attachments for this reason, and email etiquette dictates you should avoid sending attachments. Why allow your recipient to worry if it's safe or not? You can almost always copy and paste what you want to send rather than sending an attachment. If you get an attachment from someone you don't know, don't open it. An oldie that is still floating around is in an attachment called "happy99.exe" - if you stupidly open it, you'll get a nifty little fireworks display and you now have the virus! DON'T SEND EMAILS TO PEOPLE WHILE YOU HAVE A VIRUS BECAUSE YOU MAY UNWITTINGLY SEND IT TO THEM. With happy99.exe, what would happen is you would send a totally innocent email to a pal, and WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE, when they get it, there will be a little attachment on what you sent. If they open it, they get the virus and innocently pass it on too. Look around the web- there are ways to fix many viruses without being a techno whiz. Don't email someone to ask for help- and switching mailboxes won't allow you to mail safely either because the virus is on your hard drive and will insert itself on any email program you use. Go to a search engine and type in "computer virus" and you'll get a list of sites that will offer fix-its and info on which viruses don't even exist- half the warnings you see are fake.

DON'T BE NA¤VE: There are well-intentioned but na´ve folks who pass on emails they get that have a similar theme: Some company says that everyone who gets this email will get money so send it to everyone you know!!! Come on. An email can not track itself, so the company wouldn't know where their email went. Even if it could track itself (maybe in the future, which is scary) how would it know who JeffNik@aol.com is to send you the check? Companies don't do this, so forget this garbage. This one has made the rounds claiming to be from Microsoft (supposedly testing new tracking software!) and from Disney (offering big vacation discounts).

DESIGNATIONS ON WEBSITES AND EMAIL ADDRESSES: .com= commercial .org= organization .net= network .edu= educational .gov= government .mil= military .jp= Japan .in= India .ca= Canada .de= Germany .uk= United Kingdom .au= Australia .nz= New Zealand .ch= Switzerland .ie= Ireland .it= Italy .es= Spain .nl= Netherlands .ve= Venezuela

This is an example of an URL: http://www.abcdefg.com (URL stands for "universal resource locator" and it basically means "web address to a page")

All URLs begin with http://

NOT ALL will begin with http://www. So-

http://www.stuffhere.com is the same as www.stuffhere.com it's just that in the second instance, the http:// part is assumed- we all know it has this in front.

BREAKING OUT OF FRAMES: Let's say you are on a page http://www.abcdefg.com and you click on one of the links on that pageů and you notice that the url http://www.abcdefg.com remains in your browser. You know you are no longer really on that page- so where are you? Right mouse-click on the page. Click on "open page in new window" and when this happens, you will have the right url at the top now if you want to save it or bookmark it.

HAVING 2 DIFFERENT WINDOWS OPEN AT THE SAME TIME: This is very cool because you can do one thing while you wait for the other thing to load, or you can take something you saw in one place and easily put it into your email to send. Up at the left top of your browser click on "File" then on "new window" and a window will load that looks just like the one you are on. The one window will be on top of the other, so you can only see one at a time. Pick one window and put in the URL of the other place you want to have up. Now, you have one window with one site ready to go, and another with a different site ready to go- and you can switch back and forth easily. Use the three tiny boxes at the top of your browser with a square (for "normal" size) or "-" (to minimize) and "x" (to close it).

COPYING AND PASTING (this doesn't work for Web-TV- they have their own instructions): Let's say you see text on a web page that you like and want to save it or email it to a pal, or maybe you have a document and you want to move paragraphs around.

Using your mouse, put your cursor at the point in the text where what you want begins, LEFT CLICK AND HOLD the button down, and now slowly MOVE your mouse down until all the text you want has been highlighted. Now you can let go of the left button.

Now, RIGHT CLICK on what you just highlighted. CLICK "COPY" - now all the text you wanted has now been saved and is being held in the mouse. (Actually it is in your computer's inside clipboard, but do you care? Just think of the text as still sitting now in your mouse, and now your mouse has to put it down somewhere.)

Go now to where you want to put the text, and RIGHT CLICK, then select PASTE. This will lay down all the selected text for you.

If you are doing this process in a word processing application and want to move a whole paragraph or lines of text (rather than just copying it again in a second place) start the same as above, highlight the text with the left click and moving your mouse, then when you right click, choose "cut" which will remove the text from its current location, and save it for you. Now place your cursor where you want to put this text in, right click, choose paste, and you are set. The old text is now in its new spot, and it was not left where it once was.

BOOKMARKING: Let's say you have a really cool site you've found and you want to find it again easily. Depending on your browser you will file it under "favorites" or Bookmarks". Click on the appropriate word at the top of your browser and click on "Add to favorites: or "add bookmark" and it will be added to your list.

SEARCHING FOR A WORD: You're on a long page about adoption and you just want to find the part that has to do with, say, foster care. On your browser, usually top left, click on "Edit" then "find in page" then type in a key word you seek (foster) and begin to search. It will skim down the page and stop every time the word appears. This is also really good if you are on a long page of searches- like at a registry- and you just want to see, say, Pennsylvania ones- search for Pennsylvania and then try it again with PA to make sure you don't miss any. You could also try this with your town, hospital or any names you have.

MAKING YOUR OWN PAGE: It doesn't take an Einstein. There are free page providers that make it really easy for you with "page builders" that require no technical knowledge. They provide you with a template and you fill it in. Examples of such providers are http://www.delphi.com and http://www.tripod.com and www.freeservers.com and www.expage.com No, it won't look quite as cool as some real pro pages, but the point is to get your search out there, so this is a way. Remember your social responsibility to others searching and show your intelligence and self-control. If you are really traumatized or angry, you not only look unstable but you drive away potential help. Get counseling and use your page as a way to bring attention to your search.

WANT TO ADD A LINK IN YOUR TEXT? There's a simple formula. Let's say you want to have something that says "You can read my story HERE" - where "HERE" is a link the reader can click to go to that page.

Let's say the page you want to link to is http://www.abcdefg.com

You would type:

You can read my story here.

In this example, the part that will show as a clickable link is the part between the > and The gobbledygook in between "story" and "here." won't show up. The word "here." will be in a different color and be a clickable link because the > in front of it, touching, and the in back of it, touching are what makes it a link. You must follow this exactly. If you don't it won't come out or you will see the gobbledygook.

WANT TO ADD A CLICKABLE MAIL LINK TO YOUR PAGE? Another formula. You want it to read:

Send me MAIL! (where the word MAIL can be clicked on and bring up a "compose window" for them to write to you)

You would type:

Send me mail!

Again, watch the spaces in what you type or it won't work.

WHAT'S UP WITH "ROFLMAO" AND : ) ?

There are cutesy net abbreviations for a lot of stuff, some of which have evolved thru email and chat. Ask if someone uses one you don't know, if you care. Here's a few-

LOL - laughing out loud ROFLMAO - rolling on floor, laughing my ass off BRB - be right back BG - big grin VBG - very big grin BEG - big evil grin L8r - later IMO- in my opinion IMHO - in my humble opinion TTYL- talk to you later BTW- by the way

And these : ) things are called emoticons because they make a little sideways face thru use of colons, semi-colons, parenthesis and so on. (Some people do faces with and without a nose.) They are juvenile but totally helpful. If you type something where the meaning could be misconstrued or harsh, putting a little smiley on there lets the reader know you are saying whatever it is in a NICE way.

Variations include:

:- ( (frown) :-p (sticking tongue out) :- 0 (mouth in "o" indicates alarm) ;-) (winking at you, as in an inside joke, or just teasing)

and there is the ever-popular {{{{{{{{YOU}}}}}}}} (lots of hugs for you)

X. NETIQUETTE This whole section, courtesy of Erol's:

TIP OF THE WEEK: NETIQUETTE AND OTHER MYSTERIES :-) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This week we step away from purely technical issues to look at "netiquette."

Yes, the word itself makes some people gag. Perhaps you are over 50 (as some of us inevitably are) and you are less than dazzled by "this Internet thing."

Well, some heavy thinkers believe "The Net" promises not only epochal changes in world society - but is also evolving into a society of its own.

Consider some opinions from the most recent quarterly issue of FORBES/ASAP, a journal devoted to sweeping views of technology. Among the contributors were the novelist Tom Wolfe; George Gilder, a technology guru; Muhammad Ali, who needs no introduction; Kurt Vonnegut, another noted novelist; and Bill Gates.

FORBES/ASAP asked all these heavies to comment on what the editors called, "The Great Convergence," described in these words:

"Something immense is occurring around us. Everywhere you look, things are flowing together, creating new connections, new hybrids, new ways of seeing the world."

In one article, Tom Wolfe asserts that convergence was foreseen 50 years in near-religious terms by the French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and later by one of his disciples, Marshall McLuhan, who coined the memorable phrase, "the global village."

Enough of the heavy stuff. You can find FORBES/ASAP here:

http://www.forbes.com/asap/

You can sample opinions in the "Convergence" issue at:

http://www.forbes.com/asap/99/1004/

What does this mean in terms of news you can use? It means that a set of rules (guidelines?) has evolved about how to behave in Internet society. These are called "netiquette," short for network etiquette.

Netiquette assumes that until the dawn of Internet face-to-face videophone conversations for all, we will be limited to somewhat impersonal channels like e-mail, chat groups, and opinion Web sites.

That means being careful about words because, the thinking goes, if we cannot hear or see the person we are talking with, the written word alone can offend or lead to misunderstanding. Let's see. Is that clear?

Hence, netiquette and its 10 core rules, as formulated by Virginia Shea, the "Miss Manners" of the Internet. You can read them right here:

http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html

and here:

1. Remember the Human. 2. Behave online as you would in real life. 3. Know where you are in cyberspace. 4. Respect other's time and bandwidth. 5. Make yourself look good online. 6. Share expert knowledge. 7. Help keep flame wars under control. 8. Respect other people's privacy. 9. Don't abuse your power. 10. Forgive other people's mistakes.

Along with netiquette has come the rise of acronyms and emoticons, also known as smileys, little typographical expressions meant to add life and humor, like :-)

That was, ah, a smile. There are many more of those along with such acronyms as, AFK, away from keyboard, LOL, laughing out loud, and LMK, let me know.

These expressions were born in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) groups and opinion sites, but the more popular ones are working their way into routine e-mails.

Here are several guides to this evolving new language:

http://www.mirc.co.uk/emote.html

http://www.netsurf.org/~violet/Smileys/

http://www.utopiasw.demon.co.uk/emoticon.htm

http://www.ultranet.com/support/netiquette/emoticons.shtml

Can these gee-whiz gizmos be overused? Yes, says Wayne Cunningham, a writer for Access Magazine.

Talking about e-mail manners, he says, "Smileys...are a great way to express your feelings...of course using these symbols too often can dilute their effect."

He offers ten tips for writing e-mails, including some obvious but useful reminders like DON'T LOCK THOSE CAPS. (It's like SHOUTING.)

The rest of his tips are here:

http://www.accessmagazine.com/scripts/articles.cfm?articleid=265

XI. CONCLUSION: Go with care. It is a brave new world in many ways, and like any world it has good and bad aspects and people.

Interaction with lots of people can be very rewarding, but requires wisdom and forbearance. Don't let your concerns stop you from taking advantage of the gifts the net has brought to us. Searching used to be a very isolating experience which was helped only by association with a local support group. Now you can talk with or write to people who share your issues and understand you are not out of line for wanting to find the person you lost through adoption. Getting out here shows you that birthparents are not hoping to be unfound and that adoptees are not angry people back for an explanation. We recognize all of us have personal needs to have answered, and with prayer, legwork, fellowship, and the net, God willing, we will find that peace.