I’ve researched my paternal family tree since the 1940 census was released a couple of years ago that allowed me to know who my grandparents were. While I’ve hit brick walls on part of the tree, other parts have become amazingly clear and well documented. There’s a pretty big reason for how well documented it is, and yet, I want even more info than I’ve found, at the same time, I realize what a gift just having the knowledge to get this far and that makes me feel guilty, knowing others will never have theirs. Everyday I see postings by people born in the 1940’s whose parents would have been born in the first quarter of the last century, what hope do they have of even being able to do a family tree?
I also find myself in somewhat of a bemused state and I’m not sure that I can explain. While I consider everyone in my family by adoption that I knew, to be family, I don’t consider those who passed before I was born to be my ancestors. Not sure if that makes sense, but when I talk, or think about any of Dad’s ancestors, they are his ancestors, not mine, even though he is my Dad. Dad’s ancestry fascinates me because I am his child, and he was who he was because of who came before him and what they passed down physically and morally. The same happens on Mom’s side too – anyone I personally knew is my relative, and those I didn’t, are Mom’s ancestors, not mine. I never considered that to any extent, nor felt the need to explore why I made that verbal distinction, until I started my paternal family tree. My ancestors in my paternal tree are all my ancestors, but I don’t feel I have the right to publicly claim them, because I’ve never had a relationship with any of them, but they are still mine, in a way that Mom and Dads ancestors aren’t.
That betwixt and between really drove home how mixed up this being adopted can be. I am not fully one or the other, I am both, but not, if that makes any sense. The secrets and lies never end – they exist whether I am looking forward, or back to the past.
I would love nothing more than to write about specifics of the story I just found that is evolving into a startling clear picture of who my paternal family was back then. It includes puritans who I first learned about when researching Dad’s family tree, as his ancestors who came to the Colonies were puritans. My paternal tree starts in the same state and century, they too were puritans and came to the colonies just a few years after Dad’s ancestors did. There were many things in common between my two families back in the 1600’s, yet their paths changed and went different ways after a specific event.
One of my paternal ancestors, I think, is a direct line ancestor was convicted and hanged in 1692 in the Salem Witch Trials, her son (my line) was just reaching manhood when that happened. If true, whether this would have been part of my family lore growing up if I hadn’t been adopted, or if it would had been covered up and never talked of again, I’ll never know. What I do know is that my family history, at least it should have been mine to know, or discover. I wouldn’t be able to officially claim I’m her descendent, because adoption severed my link to her.
It just all seems to inherently wrong that my dna comes from people I’m not legally related too, or feel I can publicly claim…
Sealing original birth certificates away from the adoptee steals our history from us. The law severs us from our entire biological family when our mother (and/or father) signs away their right to parent us, and our parents adopt us. Everyone should have a right to their history, to be able to find, and have the right to claim their ancestors. I wish that adoption did not legally sever our biological link to our entire family. Why would anyone have ever think this was a good thing to do?