On another list I'm on, an adoptive parent said he was talking to his wife about looking up his ancestry on Ancestry.com, and his 11-year-old adopted-from-China daughter asked, "Do I have ancestors?" Another adoptive parents answered that after assuring her children that they did have ancestors in China, even though they were unknown, she told her kids that her (the mom's) ancestry was their ancestry.
That "not knowing" thing would make the whole issue of ancestry difficult for adoptees, I'd think. How could it not? And I'm not sure that the adoptive parents' ancestry makes an adequate substitute. I wish I could find the source, but I remember reading somewhere that adoptees often don't feel deep connections to more distant family members, that of course they love and feel connected to parents and close relatives, but distant relatives feel. . . . distant. If so, then what exactly does the adoptive parents' ancestry mean to an adoptee?
And I'm wondering about general views about adoption and "ancestry." Merriam-Webster defines ancestry as: "line of descent: lineage; especially: honorable, noble, or aristocratic descent." I've blogged before that the Daughters of the American Revolution organization won't allow adoptees admission based on their adoptive parents' lineage. Do you think that comports with the general public's understanding of adoption and "ancestry?"
Say Abraham Lincoln is somewhere on my family tree (I first used George Washington as an example, until a good friend gave me a little history lesson, that George and Martha didn't have children, only Martha did from a previous marriage!) -- would people say about my adopted kids, "They're related to Abe Lincoln"?
And perhaps more importantly, how will my kids see themselves -- as relatives of Abe Lincoln, or not? (No, Abe Lincoln is not really in my family tree; in reality, the "honorable, noble or aristocratic descent" which I could pass on to my kids would involve an ancestor who abandoned his wife and children to get out of the state and avoid debtor prison, a cattle rustler, and a moonshiner!)
When I look at Ancestry.com, and search for "adoptee," I find articles for adoptees seeking birth parent information, as I expected (See here and here.). I suppose if adoptees are researching their adoptive parents' ancestry, they don't need special articles at Ancestry.com.
In the comment to a blog post about geneology research, an adoptee said, "When you’re adopted, those sites are not much help for anything except a bruised id. . . ." I can sure see how that would be the case. I'm assuming that adoptee was talking about the problem of not having birth family information. And I didn't find the blogger's response particularly satisfying:
Hmm, is geneology not about biology? One adoptive parent opined that given infidelity, uncertainty, secret adoptions, and the like, most of our "ancestry" is a biological mystery, unless tested by DNA. But the "just research your adoptive parents' geneology" seems awfully dismissive.
No reason why you can’t do your adopted family’s genealogy. That’s what my aunt
does. She loves genealogy so she works on the same genealogy I do (when she isn’t frustrated by it).
I consider her as much family as great-great-great-grandfather Bubba, whom I never met. It’s not about biology. It’s about connections. I think of it as social networking with your dead relatives. Deadbook, anyone? Ba ding!
So chime in, help me figure this out. Can anyone identify my missing source? Does anyone know of adult adoptees who've written about this? Does transracial and/or international adoption complicate this (do you see an adult adoptee from China saying, "I'm related to Abraham Lincoln!")? Please, comment!