1/1/2010 at 9:27 AM
I wish to initiate a discussion of the methods by which we (genealogists / participants in Geni) can / should / might in future more satisfactorily acknowledge adoptive relationships.
Genealogy is a study of family members, familial relationships, lives and times. A family tree is based upon biological generations, but the more genealogy enriches the diagramming of a tree structure, the more it recognizes nurture (real world contexts) beside nature. Currently we describe non-generational, non-biological relationships in texts within profiles, but not in tree structures. Consideration of inclusion/exclusion of adopted children in families challenges the boundaries of a diagramming protocol that recognizes only biological relationships. A cool, rational approach might reasonably exclude adopted children from an adopting family's tree, and relegate adopted persons to their biological positions in a distant, unconnected tree. This approach sees the biological relationship as traditional and paramount. The adopting parents and the adopted child might argue that nurture is so important at least as or even more important than nature, that not to place an adopted person somehow in the tree structure of the adopted family is an inadequate (cruel) acknowledgment of the nurturing bond of the family in adoption. How do we respond to this argument?
A word of caution: Considering the sensitivity of the issues in adoptions, when we cite examples of living adopters and adoptees, we need to avoid abusing those involved. To avoid assaulting anyone's personal well-being, I suggest we limit discussion of example adopters and adoptees to hypotheticals and to those who are deceased.
An adopted person can have either no knowledge of the identity of birth parents, or one or both of those connections is otherwise too problematic or painful to acknowledge.
I propose that a new (additional) means of diagramming is called for, and that this permit hyperlink connections between the biological and the adoptive parents / families.
I apologize that I am unaware of a genealogical literature on adoptive issues. I speculate that such a literature exists, and that it might offer guidance concerning the problems we have in putting adoption into trees.
How have you treated adoptions? What do you think might be methods of more satisfactorily acknowledging adoptions within Geni?