Ana's Miracle was a blog I started in 2007 to share my thoughts and experiences about being reunited with my biological family from El Salvador. Initially conceived to help my adoptive mother with her memoir Missing Mila, Finding Family, the site was my first online publication and the genesis for several other projects, including a documentary film autobiographical novel and my web hosting business. After writing there for six years, I decided to end the blog, but I kept the site running for posterity.
In 2005, my adoptive mother, Margaret E. Ward, started working on her memoir about my unusual international adoption and the astonishing revelations that emerged when my birth family relocated me in 1997. As part of her research, she interviewed me and my biological sister Eva about our experiences. At the time, we were unable to express how we felt, but I felt compelled to find some way of helping her with the book.
A year or so later, I was listening to a podcast about how the next generation of web technologies was going to change our society when I heard this quote:
"Now anyone with a library card can publish, and because of that, the world has changed." ~ Robert Rebholz
I realized that these new technologies presented an incredible opportunity to share our story with the world and that all I was missing was the will to do so. That’s when I got the idea to set up a blog so that my sister and I could write about the reunion from our point of view.
Back in 2007, there weren’t as many blogging and publishing platforms as there are now. At the time, you could either use a company-hosted site that was simple and limited, like Google Blogger or run a more robust solution, like WordPress, that needed to be self-hosted. While I had experience with database-driven applications, thanks to the work I did for The Village Bank, I had never set up web-based software before, and getting WordPress up and running would require learning a whole new set of skills.
I decided to launch the site using the simpler Blogger platform because it would allow me and my siblings to start publishing right away. We called the blog Ana's Miracle as a tribute to my birth mother, Ana Milagro. Then, over the following nine months, I taught myself how to set up, install, and maintain a WordPress blog using old computer hardware I had lying around. In February of 2008, I relaunched the site with WordPress running on the Linode Cloud Platform.
Over the following six years, I experimented with video blogging, live streaming, and social media to see how I could best market my family's incredible story. While none of these efforts lead to my work “going viral,” I was able to cultivate a small but loyal readership. I learned a lot about online publishing, and more importantly, excerpts from the blog made it into my adoptive mother’s memoir.