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Archiver > APG > 2006-08 > 1156725658

From: Ray Beere Johnson II <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Legal vs Biological Kinship
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2006 17:40:58 -0700 (PDT)
In-Reply-To: <c4f.c53548.322390f4@aol.com>

--- wrote:
> That seems to sum up the discussion quite
> well. Those of us whose interest
> is family history will include the events that
> produce social and legal
> relationships. Family history is a much broader
> study than genealogy, which in its
> strictest sense is merely the list of
> (biological) begats.
I think that summary leaves out one
important point raised in the discussion. There
are rare cases where a child was adopted but
there is no record of the fact (when, say, a
mother raised her sixteen year old's child as her
own). Also, *paternity* is only certain when DNA
testing has been done. Since the law considers
all children born to a married couple as children
of *both parties* and records them as such, even
genealogy *cannot* reliably separate the legal
from the biological.
Ironically, those who persist in researching
only their paternal lines are pursuing the very
lines *least* likely to consist of their
biological ancestors. After all, one 'slip' and
every earlier member of that line is your legal
ancestor but not your biological one.
Whether someone has traced only paternal
lines or all lines in their family, I think it is
important to remember this curious 'blind spot'
in genealogical attitudes. In reality, with the
exception of DNA studies, we search records. Most
of those records include *only* what someone's
*legal* status was. Even personal records would
seldom include the true details of a family
I know there are cases where clues to such
scandals do make it on the record, but the fact
*some* cases can be proved does not establish
that in all other cases a true biological
connection exists. Many of us simply choose to
assume that, but it cannot be proved short of DNA
testing, and not always even then. So, in
reality, most of the relationships we can prove
are only certain to be legal ones, and *possible*
biological ones.

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