First off, thank you all for reading the guest post by Tiffany, the shares and number of visitors tell me how much everyone appreciated the story told, the comments were also appreciated and the conversation good. If you missed it, read it here. My hope is that Tiffany will write other posts here as well.
This last week I’ve filled in gaps in Dad’s family tree by researching the siblings lines of dad’s direct line ancestors, there’s plenty when you go back 400 years and I’ve been hit or miss in this area because they all seem to have had 10+ kids, who then had 10+ kids. Having said that, until now, I thought us kids were the only adopted ones in the family, but it turns out there was another adoptee.
Dad’s great uncle’s daughter and husband adopted a son named John according to the 1920 census. It was easy to find his biological family, took me less an a minute, and you’ll see the reason it was so easy later in the post. John’s mother passed away around 1914, leaving behind her son born in 1911 and a daughter (Elizabeth) born in 1913, then his father passed away in 1917. I haven’t found out what happened to Elizabeth, although I suspect as she was still a baby, her adoption would have happened shortly after her mother’s death, whether John was adopted around the same time as his sister or later after his father passed is unknown. It made me sad to think about it, not just the parental loss, but the sibling loss as well.
Several things made me want to write about it here, I have pictures of what I’m trying to explain below, but it is unclear in the rules of use whether I’m allowed to post screen-shots from ancestry pages. Anyone know?
John was listed in the 1920 census as their ‘adopted son’, rather than son. I always check the actual census record to make sure I’ve got the right person and saw it. Adding John to the tree as their child from that census, also gave him his original surname, back then, they didn’t change the child’s name at adoption. While in this case his adopted status was included in the census, as was his surname because this parents noted he was adopted, I’d also assume some parents never told the census taker about the adopted status, so the child would be listed simply as their son or daughter and be shown under their surname on the census. Nowhere on his (adopted) parents personal record pages does it note their son is adopted, not even in the details/blurb attached to the 1920 census, their privacy is maintained in the tree.
Ancestry does accommodate a person having more than one mother and father and you can choose from eight choices; biological, step, foster, guardian, adopted, related, unknown, private when you are linking a parent to a child. You can link multiple parents to the same person. At the same time, it makes you choose which set of parents is set as the preferred parents.
The preferred parents (adopted in this case) are the parents who show up on John’s personal record page in my tree. What it lacks is showing the ‘non-preferred’ parents (biological) anywhere, not even a hint there is more than one set of parents assigned to John, you wouldn’t know unless you were an editor on that tree and happened to edit that relationship. Without the details/blurb of the linked 1920 census “Relation to head: Adopted Son”, his personal record page wouldn’t show it, nor who they were so I added adoption as an event for John and listed the details of his biological parents and sister so it’s documented. John shows up with his original surname in the 1930 and 1940 census, he’d married and they had children, he passed away in 2000 still under his original surname.
It’s notable that I can find his biological parents personal record pages in the tree, yet I can’t find them linked to John, in either his or their personal records pages, nor in either version of looking at multiple generations of family in the tree, the parental link is severed.
I do understand that most people wouldn’t be comfortable showing both (or multiple) sets of parents linked to a relative, yet they are comfortable showing a step parent on the person’s page when they have half-siblings by that step parent, but that is only triggered by the half-siblings. It shows how far we’ve come, but still not far enough to be comfortable recognising a person can have multiple sets of parents, without taking anything away from the parents who parented them, and in whose tree they belong. One day I hope we get there.