Adopted children on your Family Tree? #general

Lisa Lepore <llepore@...>

In my family, my mother was adopted. If I were to leave out her adopted
side of the family, all the people who were the family I knew and grew up with
would not be in my tree. That doesn't seem right to me.

Our families are what they are, so I include everyone - adopted, not
married, non-traditional,as well as the criminals, or otherwise not upstanding

But, I have never published my data on line so I haven't run into requests
from relatives who don't want certain information published. I do think we
need to respect their wishes as far as public information goes, but I would
keep all information in my own records, because they are the facts.

If someone is researching health issues, it is probably best to keep a
totally separate tree that only includes blood relatives who could pass
on these illnesses. In my case, I would include only my mother in a tree
for health purposes.

My 2 cents,
Mendon, MA
# 110233

Meron Lavie

As in many aspects of life, here too - in DNA testing, discretion is the
better part of valour.

When I took Genetics 101 in college (somewhere around the Jurassic period,
according to my children), I expected to be given the famous PTC testing kit
so that I could test all my family and trace the inheritance pattern of the
dominant gene which enables certain people to taste the presence of the
chemical PTC.

However, the professor announced that starting that semester, he was no
longer giving out the kits. We asked him why not. His explanation was that
in the previous year a student had taken the test home over spring break,
and when she returned was clearly distraught and seriously depressed. She
discovered that she could taste PTC, but that neither parent could. As PTC
sensitivity is dominant, this meant that her "father" could not possibly
have fathered her. After a few days, the student returned home to confront
her mother with the act of adultery she had uncovered, replete with the use
of epithets which do not bear reputation here. Well, to make a long story
short: it turns out not only that her father did not father her, but her
mother did not mother her, either. She was adopted, and her parents had
intended to keep it secret forever.

I have passed on DNA testing for close relatives...

Meron Lavie
Oranit, Israel

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A. E. Jordan

In a message dated 3/14/2012 12:29:44 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
Ema609@... writes:
I have been reading all the posts and I don't believe there is a wrong or
a right way to do a tree. ....... Its my Tree. I didn't know I had rules
until I read what other people wrote but I guess I do.
I purposely started the other line about if and when you leave someone off
a tree .... but as I said in that other posting and felt important to
repeat here is that I agree with Evelyn Filippi.

This is each person's individual hobby and there are no rules. Someone
people set out to capture every fact and every person who is even remotely
attached to the tree. Some only want specific branches or whatever.

Its your tree and its your time going into doing it .... so enjoy and be
proud of what you do and don't let anyone else tell you are not doing it

Allan Jordan

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

A genner wrote: "If we are conducting genealogical research, the research
necessarily, and by definition, must only be concerned with genetic

Genealogy is the story of your life and your family not molecular biology,
not, by definistion concerned with genetic relationships. You are falling
for the DNA testers ploys. Genealogy is not kidney transplants, but it
involves in-laws, adoptees, everybody in your family and affecting your family.

What if you found out that a ggrandparent was actually raised by people who
were unrelated, perhaps, to her biological parents, as one of mine was? Do
I stop because there is nobody to DNA test? No, it is an interesting
situation and major influence on her life. Her 'mother' in NYC left her a
fortune when she died, so she must have loved her, but DNA testing probably
would show no relationship at all - if you dig them up and find something
testable. So sorry, you have no DNA in common, so we forget you exist?

A cousin of mine took several DNA tests and got lists of people who were
supposedly related closely, but he never could figure out how most were
related. And some people who had also taken tests and are closely related
(by genealogy) aren't on his list. Should he leave the DNA-unrelated off
his tree? And should he include little trees for the DNA-related when he
doesn't know how they are related? It was a famous, well-respected DNA
testing company, by the way.

I am trained as a geneticist, and I can tell you that DNA testing is a far
different thing >from proving relationships for people not very closely
related. You can prove paternity, but when you get even a little farther
away, it gets very, very complicated very fast.

If we only depended on DNA testing, we would have to DNA test everybody, as
you never know if somebody was actually switched with another baby in he
maternity ward. Perhaps I was switched? My 35 years of genealogical
research would be 'a waste of time', as my DNA was not theirs? No! I am the
product of my family, my upbringing, and all that influenced me growing up,
as well as my DNA, that family and that upbringing is genealogy. My family
is the product of their families and their lives, and if I were genetically
unrelated, they are still my family. If somebody was adopted, that includes
them as well.

Genealogy is not DNA testing, but family relationships.

Sally Bruckheimer
Piscataway, NJ

Barbara Zimmer

Dear Genners,
The question of adoption and where to place "adopted" children on a family
tree has many meanings. Here is another scenario >from my family (with all
names changed).

Minnie married Max Braun and had one son, Louis. Minnie divorced Max and
married Sam Schwartz. Sam "adopted" Louis, and Louis's full name was
changed to Isaac George Schwartz. Minnie and Sam had two children who were
half-siblings to Louis/Isaac.

None of this created any problems until Sam's cousin Morris died intestate.
In a search for heirs, the first version of the paperwork did not include
the information that Isaac George Schwartz, "son of Sam Schwartz" was not
the blood descendant of Sam Schwartz. All the pertinent paperwork had to
be resubmitted with the correct information, and each of the direct
descendants finally received their share of the estate.

On my tree (on my computer) I have included the information about Minnie's
first marriage to Max Braun and his later marriage to another woman. In
addtion, I have included data on Minnie's later marriages (without issue)
after Sam Schwartz died. I prefer to include all the data, since it is my
private tree.

Barbara Zimmer

Evelyn Filippi

I have been reading all the posts and I don't believe there is a wrong or
a right way to do a tree.

I have one part of my family that I couldn't get much info on. The relative
I contacted wouldn't give me any information because it was too painful for
her to talk about it with all the sisters and brothers she lost >from the Nazis.
So I left her alone as much as I wanted the info. I never got it.

I also contacted another relative for any more info and she asked her Father
who told her to ask me he wouldn't talk about his family with her and what
he went thru.
I had gotten most of the info >from his wife.

I do not put x spouses in unless their are children involved. I don't see
the point. This is a family tree not a who is sleeping with whom tree. I
don't put people living together, or love partners or pets.

What I find interesting someone else might not. I like medical information
for instance my 2 sons are color-blind so I researched that and found out
they got the magic gene >from me since its passed on thru the mother and
started asking and found a few more relatives that also were color-blind.

I have also found Rabbis, Political Science Professors, Soccer players,
Designers and Gamblers, Business People, etc.

Its my Tree. I didn't know I had rules until I read what other people wrote
but I guess I do.

Evelyn Filippi
New York


Is it correct to put adopteds on a family tree?

I've been avidly following this discussion, through both "emotional" and
"intellectual" attempts at arriving at some sort of standard.

Seems to me (and, of course, this is only my opinion) there is a simple answer.
There is no single "standard."

If we are conducting genealogical research, the research necessarily, and
by definition, must only be concerned with genetic relationships. In that
instance, adopteds do not belong on a genealogical family tree. Genealogy
cannot be concerned about emotional bonds, regardless of the "feelings"
toward adopteds, family members you personally can't stand, illegitimate
children, etc. Genealogical research is devoted to the study of bloodlines.

But there have been numerous responses >from adopteds and adoptive parents
who seem almost offended at the thought of omitting these non-blood
relationships >from a tree. They need not be offended, however, since many here
who create family trees are not,actually conducting "genealogical" research,
in the strictest sense. They are engaged in something that might best be
termed "family/relational research," as families are composed of
relationships, in addition to bloodlines.

That's fine when all we seek is to understand family relationships - in
this type of family tree, even unmarried "couples" with no issue can be
properly included. So adopteds, their biological parents, gay unions, long term
companions, etc. can all be said to properly belong on the tree.

However, these types of trees are of lessened value to researchers seeking
to establish bloodlines, for whatever reason - be it to trace medical
conditions, conduct genetic analysis, confirm descent of royalty, etc. And I
think we need take care when sharing research with others researching our
families, so they can easily delineate actual blood relationships >from those
that we are "fond" of but share no common genetics.

I personally reconcile this by creating two trees, one "Genalogical Tree"
and one "Relationship Tree." It's relatively simple to do - just an edit
here or there. That way those I feel close to and wouldn't dream of leaving
out, such as adopted family members, step children and yes, even non-blood
spouses in second (or third) marriages with no issue can be included.

But when I need pure genealogical data, I would never turn to my
"relationship" tree. My "genealogical" tree is dedicated to preserving such
invaluable, dependable bloodline data.

As Evelyn recently wrote, "I take what I am doing very seriously and am
very proud of my tree" (or in my case, "trees").

Hoping I haven't offended anyone in what seems to be a somewhat emotionally
charged subject,

Scott Rabinowitz

Trudy Barch

Adopted and step children are loved just as much as natural born children,
usually. I include them all with a private side note. Everyone does not
need to know the relationship.

If a family member asks me not to list a 2nd marriage, previous marriage or
children, I respect their wishes. My genealogy work is not for the legal
world it is for family members. What I do is put the information in my
notes section that is only for me to see. The family is happy that so and
so is not included yet I still have the information if ever needed.

Trudy Barch,

Calvin Weil <cmweil80@...>

As a Mac user I looked around for genealogical software that struck a
happy medium between the basics and a truckload of bells and whistles.
I found a a program called iFamily for Leopard. It handles adopted and
step children with ease, as well as multiple marriages with children.

I have no interest in the program or company other than being a satisfied user.

If anyone has questions please contact me privately,

Cal Weil
Fortuna, CA

Cheryl Freeman


I replied privately to the original question. I also create two family
trees/reports: one for my genealogy/genetic family, and one for a family
history family tree.

The first follows the bloodline only, whether ancestor chart or descendant
chart. This "tree" documents my genealogical research and serves as a guide
to future research.

The latter is a descendant chart I created at my family's request, and is
used to show my extended family how they are connected today. My
genealogical software has the ability to designate (and change) primary
parents. When I create a Family History tree showing children with their
non-biological parent(s), I use a name variant for the child, which is "John
Jones (adopted son of Robert and Sue Jones)", or "John Jones (stepson of
Robert Jones)". This way, everyone is included, but if a family member
decides to "share" the tree, it is clear to the recipient that some
relationships are not biological ones.

Cheryl Freeman
Dallas, TX

Herbert Adelsberg <Berts_Family_1947@...>

I will use an example concerning Adopted children: Namely myself. My parents
who have raised me as a infant are my Parents.. My biological mother is who
she is, a biological mother and not my parent..I use Ancestry Tree Maker
2011 and one can list both Parents and biological parent/parents.
Procedure is hidden slightly..(I will have to relook at the procedure and
you can ask privately about it)..

Herbert Adelsberg

Evelyn Filippi

This is just for My Family Tree

I have put in and taken out a few of the adopted child who had the best
parents and I guess its because of their original dna kind of disowned the

I also left out a few relatives that I cant stand.
Everyone else is either related by blood or parents of the spouse, I am not
into what is politically correct. I take what I am doing very seriously
and am very proud of my tree.

Evelyn Filippi
New York

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

Your new situation, about adopting a sister's child is a simple one with
most genealogy programs (since we are mentioning program names now, I use
Legacy, so the specifics deal with that program). My ggrandmother was
raised in New York by a foster family, so that is my example.

You would start by entering the data as usual. If you enter her with her
biological family, as I did, you just enter her like anybody else. I would
recommend against adding 'adptd' or any other marker with somebody's name,
as that will confuse people - who is the adopted parent and who biologic.

In Legacy, one of the ways to add a second set of parents is to click the
'Parents' icon for the person, then click on the 'Add New Parents' button,
which produces an additional link to 'unknown' parents who you can then
enter, or you can just link >from the highlighted person's. The nice thing
about the 'Add New Parents' icon is that you have, at the bottom of the
screen 'Relationship to Father' and 'Relationship to Mother' which are
drop-down lists that you can use to mark the relationship 'Biological',
'Adopted', 'Foster', and several more, or add a new kind of relationship -
for each parent separately. You can also mark these statuses as private if
you wish.

You also have a 'Child Status' drop down list here, so you can mark the
child as a twin, adopted by the couple, or whatever.

For your particular question, adopting a sister's child would work the same
way as any other; one set of parents biological, the other adoptive. In my
ggrandmother's case, I don't know her relationship to her foster parents,
but she was sent >from Europe to them, and I guess that her foster father was
her uncle, so I make notes about that.

For a current adoption, you want to be sensitive to the child's feelings,
so in most cases, I wouldn't make any obvious difference, like marking the
name which would print out anywhere the name prints. By using the built in
statuses, you can make the relationships private, where it will print out in
reports, or not, while preserving the information, and continuing to research
both lines if you wish.

Sally Bruckheimer
Piscataway, NJ

Merle Kastner <merlek@...>

To reply to Anne Lapedus and to add my two cents to this discussion -

I am in favour of very simply putting "adopted" in the 'Notes' section, beside
the adopted child's name. This eliminates all sorts of issues that might result
for the adopted child and/or the family. (I agree with Anne's comments, which
appear below)

The aim of formulating a family tree is to bring families together, to
explore our roots, but not to hurt or alienate anyone. So, in my view,
diplomacy is the rule.

Merle Kastner
Montreal, Canada
Researching: KASTNER, OSTFELD (Bukovina), NATHANSON,
MENDELSSOHN (Piatra Neamt & Negulesti, Romania),
(Lida, Belarus, Vilna & Eishishok, Lithuania), GARBARSKI &
DENENBERG/DYNABURSKI (Sejny, Suwalki gubernia, Poland)

But to contradict what I have said now about putting "adpt"next to the
child's name, we don't put "Jewish", "Christian","White", "Black",
"Chinese", "Mixed Race", etc next to someone's name, so maybe it is a slight
insult to the adopted child to have "adpt"next to his/her name?? Or is it?
Perhaps an adopted child could comment on this.
Anne Lapedus BREST (ex Dublin, Ireland) Sandton, South Africa

Martha F <martha.public.mail@...>

List him. Someone, some day, will be confused - and if you're going to
the trouble to make a tree, you can help them unravel the mystery. I
don't know about all genealogy software, but I've figured out a way to
fox Family Tree Maker and WILL sync to it without choking,
though if you look at the Family View the child attaches only to the
primary family.

But do it. The world needs to know the truths.

Martha Schecter Forsyth
Newton, MA

Maury Kitces <family@...> wrote:

What about the other case .. someone adopted out of the family tree?
Born to a family member, and given out for adoption.

Irene Newhouse

Someone wondered about the view of adoptees on inclusion in family trees.
There are people who have been adopted who are so bitter about the
experience, they've formed organizations to try to ban adoption altogether.
[It's not clear what they think should happen to children whose parents
cannot take care of them]. On the other hand, I personally know adoptees
who view being adopted about the same as most people view the color of
their hair or eyes - it IS. You don't agonize over it.

As an adoptive parent, I know that mainstream adoption agencies urge you
to talk to your child about adoption right >from the start. You are warned
that if you try to keep it a secret, or if you decide to wait until a child
is some arbitrary age before you mention it, you are setting yourself up
for a world of problems.

My husband & I started reading Thomas Mallory's "La Morte d'Arthur"
recently. In one chapter, Arthur learns as a young adult that Sir Ector &
his wife are his foster, not biological, parents. He's devastated. Mallory
died in 1471. So people have been aware of the pitfalls of keeping this
secret for over 500 years. It doesn't give you much hope that it still
comes up as an issue for some adoptive parents.

As family historians, we try to record the facts. We list our sources. We
point out where we have less than proof. So we have to record adoptions
and include the family members, as most of the responses have already been saying.

Irene Newhouse
Kihei HI

Micah Salb

I favor noting an adoption --- if I am even aware of it --- in a private
comment. It isn't really relevant to anything or anyone in any way that I
can think of. Even if you are looking for a genetic match it is pretty
unlikely to be the only dispositive factor.

Micah Salb

On Mar 11, 2012, "Anne Brest Photographics" <digitalphoto@...> wrote:
Adopted Children on the Family Tree. I think it is very simple, and this
is my thought on the topic - Yes, absolutely, an adopted child should be
put onto the Family Tree, and certainly not left off....

Anne Brest Photographics <digitalphoto@...>

Good Morning JewishGenners

Adopted Children on the Family Tree. I think it is very simple, and this
is my thought on the topic - Yes, absolutely, an adopted child should be
put onto the Family Tree, and certainly not left off. Under no circumstances
whatsoever. That would cause, a terrible emotional upset to the child and
the family, feeling he/she was not good enough, or not the "real child"!!

Children today know that they are adopted, it is not the huge secret it used
to be in older times. And so they rightfully take their place on the Tree.
An adopted child, naturally, does not share the bloodlines of the family,
loved as he/she may be, that is a genealogical and biological fact, they do
not have the Genes of the family who adopted them, but this is taken care of
by using the term "adopted" which the softwear programme "Family Tree Maker"
(and I'm sure other softwear programmes) provides and it should not become
an issue.

But to contradict what I have said now about putting "adpt"next to the
child's name, we don't put "Jewish", "Christian","White", "Black",
"Chinese", "Mixed Race", etc next to someone's name, so maybe it is a slight
insult to the adopted child to have "adpt"next to his/her name?? Or is it?
Perhaps an adopted child could comment on this.

And what about a woman who adopts her sister's child? That child is legally
an "adopted child" but the child shares the bloodlines of the family. If I
was doing this, I would just writes in "Notes" an explanation. I do feel it
is important for generations to come, that the adopted child does have some
record of this on the Tree, only for the sake of DNA in later years. So if
someone is looking for a donor within the family, they will know that this
won't apply in the case of the "adopted child"and the descendants, as they
don't share the same DNA as their family. I am not an expert, so I stand

All the best >from South Africa,

Anne Lapedus BREST (ex Dublin, Ireland) Sandton, South Africa

Ackmene, Lithuania. KLOPMAN/KLAPMAN,Silmalas, Latvi). SHILLMAN, BENSON,
SEIDER Krustpils/Kreutzberg)Latvia. MIRRELSON Kurshan, Courland, Latvia.
BREST Bauska, Latvia. ORKIN Zagere Lithuania. CHAVKIN and CHEIN Zagare,
Lithuania. GILINSKY Daugavpils/Dvinsk, Latvia. GAYER/GAER near Chelm,
Poland. NAS(H)ATIR (Lithuania)

Maury Kitces

What about the other case .. someone adopted out of the family tree?
Born to a family member, and given out for adoption.

I only have one of those, and it is a little unusual.

Bob (all names fictitious) was married to Carol and had an affair with Alice
who gave birth to John. John was given to Mary and Joseph in an open
adoption arrangement. Alice later married Ted. John contacted me and
asked to be connected to my tree, and wanted all three sets of his parents
included. My genealogy software is very confused.

Maury Kitces

Mark Halpern


I recall that there was a thread on forum in 2000, where I opined on this
subject. So, I used the JewishGen Discussion Group Archives (a great
resource) and found my posting. None of my opinions have changed. Here is
the posting:

"As a parent of an adopted child, I have seen the feelings of abandonment
that many adopted children are likely to harbor. Family is more about
emotional attachment and love than it is about blood lines.

"Where is it written that Genealogy is restricted to blood? My 50 year old
cousin was recently told that she was adopted. She asked me if I could help
her find her "birth" family. Now that I know the facts, do I eliminate her
children and grandchildren >from my family tree? Of course not.

"Another recent thread, started by David Frey, discussed why we are "hooked"
on Genealogy. I submit that the process of piecing together our family
histories is one of bringing "life" to our ancestors. It is not blood but
rather this concept of "life" -- who these people are, how they lived, how
they died -- that is the key to my genealogical journey."

Mark Halpern
West Chester, PA

David Syner wrote:
Please offer your thoughts. Do you add adopted children on your Family Tree?
Thanks in advance.