Elle over at Lost Daughters has a post up that I read yesterday, talking about her love for genealogy and documenting her adoptive family tree. She talked about how this is her social history, the feelings evoked in her digging into and uncovering what happened that are missing in the stories told. Elle was adopted from Korea to Sweden so while her voice and experiences are in part, unique to her locale, her love for her social history and adoptive family tree genealogy isn’t unique, others like me share it. Nor is her perception wrong from others, even family members, that as an adoptee we aren’t supposed to care about where we came from, but, at the same time we aren’t really part of the genealogical tree of our new family because we don’t share DNA, so we shouldn’t be interested.
To me, other peoples perceptions seem to leave the adoptee in yet another void, you aren’t part of your old family anymore so just move on, you are a part of this family now, but not really because you were adopted, and the family tree is a biological historical document.
Genealogy and family trees are my hobby and I seem to always be in the midst of some puzzle in one of my four trees. I talk about it a lot, here and on my old blog. Beth, my friend also adopted is also into all of her trees too. Snippets below just for context, but not really what the post is about, so feel free to skip.
[Me]…right now, I deep into the 1600’s of my biological paternal family tree. It’s amazing – also finding many similarities to dad’s family tree in the 1600’s including geography, religion, etc…just bizarre and I can’t put it down…
[Beth] I’m lost in the 1600’s with you! Where in the world are you? I’m lost in the family stories that are in so many ancient History books too, I can’ t imagine I could ever possibly read all of what I have found.
It is bizarre. I too see the similarities in my and my dad’s tree, mom’s too. Once I got back far enough I have been able to link us all to common distant ancestors. Amazing. And not just my afam, but many of my friends too.
[Me] MA, ME, NH…all those good Puritans who arrived…
[Beth] I’m hanging out with the Quaker’s! in VA, PA, MA and what is now WV, OH. I was shocked to find so much written history in Ohio and Illinois in the early 1700’s and before. VA was pretty pitiful. he Quakers sure are scary to me, as nice as they are. Yikes, I wouldn’t have made it far there. No wonder many of mine ran to the mountain wilderness to be with the wolves, mountain cats, bears and natives that wanted to kill them! Better than peaceful civilized Quaker town? YikesI agree, run granny run!
Today, family tree assignments are talked a lot in the adoption community, many seem to want to only focus on the biological family tree. Of course many adopted children now also have history with/of their first family so that complicates the matter. I don’t think there is any right answer that can be applied to all adopted children, just how to handle a specific assignment for a specific child, this post is not trying to say what is the right way for anyone.
I’m not sure if I ever had to do family tree assignments in school, but if I did, they would have been based on our family tree*, because that is all that I would have had, and I knew it so well. Not to mention that adoption then was handled as you are now in this family tree, not your original. At the same time, I’m not sure I would have even thought to do otherwise, or wanted too, because mom and dad and family were/are my family. Just like Elle states in her post, “I got my social heritage as well from my mum and dad…”
What I think we should ask, has the pendulum swung too far, instead of finding the middle ground? In the move to acknowledge, and value the first family, have we created yet another void? A void that now includes not just the perceptions of others, the adoptive parents and adoptee as well, that says you are family, but your family tree is not your adopted family tree? You are part of our family, but you only belong in your original family tree? We can’t be in both trees? Is it not acceptable if you choose to use your adoptive family tree in school assignments? The family you are part of, share family traditions, culture, history, but it’s not your family tree too?
Hoping some who knows exactly what the assignments encompass will chime in…and anyone with an opinion…
*I do want to note that I do believe ‘adopted’ should be noted in the record of the person in a family tree for historical purposes.