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From: "Kate Foote" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Writing a family history - including adopted children
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 18:15:27 -0500
In-Reply-To: <48ADE7EB.5060506@verizon.net>

Hello Chris,

I'm a bit confused here - what is offensive about the word "adoption?"
Adoption is a court
procedure whereby one or more persons become the legal parent of a minor
child. Why would you want to note an adoption as anything else? You
wouldn't be looking for a different term to identify a probate, marriage, or
divorce would you? I think what you are sensitive to is the often false
assumption that an adopted child *must* have been born illegitimate. That
did happen of course, but it was also often the case that a family member
died and other members of the family then adopted a surviving child or
children. Another example would be Orphan Train children who were adopted
in the Midwest, yet may actually have been legitimately born to parents who
were still living in the East. When a genealogist discovers an adoption it
is my opinion that he/she is then required to make every possible effort to
identify the biological parents of that person. It could be as simple as
the husband in a second marriage adopting his wife's children. If you
absolutely can not find any other information then that
should be stated as well, along with the resources that you have consulted.

Naturally, if the adoptee in question is still living you would have to
consult with him/her to ascertain their feelings about the matter - and, of
course, obtain written permission before publishing the account of the
adoption; or any other facts about a living individual.

If the adoptee is deceased, especially if it is two or more generations
removed, then it is not likely that the disclosure of an adoption would
generate a scandal - but would, instead, lead to a request for further
investigation to determine the actual biological parents. All the more
reason that you should undertake that research before publication.

There are differing opinions among genealogists as to the acceptance (for
want of a better term) of an adopted individual in a family line - very much
like the discussion of "nature vs nurture" - and excellent arguments on each
side. I, personally, have both an adopted ancestor and adopted children of
my own. I have taken somewhat of a middle road approach since I have
carefully noted and cited all the adoptions in my database; yet it would
never occur to me to differentiate between my adopted and my birth children
in my will for instance.

The most important thing here is that you, as a genealogist, have located
information that an individual was adopted. You can't put that genie back
into the bottle! It is important historical information and must be noted.
And the term to use is simple: adopted. Then use your skills as a writer to
place the adoption in the proper historical and, if possible, emotional


> -----Original Message-----
> From: [mailto:] On Behalf
> Christopher T. Smithson
> Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 5:11 PM
> To:
> Subject: [APG] Writing a family history - including adopted children
> Hi --
> I am compiling a family history on a specific family that has some
> adopted children in it. What would be a way to note that they are
> adopted without using the word or offending anyone.
> Thank you,
> Chris Smithson
> .
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