Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blood is not Always Thicker when it comes to Family

Flickr PhotoShould the lines of adoptive parents and even significant people in your lives that are not ‘blood’ relatives be included in your research? I’m sure there is debate among family historians whether they should be included or not. I have come across this in my own family history research and thought about that question. I even went as far as to try to find the official answer. After googling and looking at some views I decided I did not have to search for the official answer because the answer to that is personal and can be different for every family historian.

First, my wife’s father was adopted. In fact, another post of mine is my search for his Uncle’s story, 2nd Lt. William Capen. We often say my brother was adopted also but that is another story. Second, on my side of the family, my grandpa was not my mom’s biological father. He wasn’t even married to my grandmother. However, he is the only grandpa I every knew. So, that is how I came about this dilemma on who to include in my research. And actually, after much thought, the answer was quite easy, at least for me.

My grandfather, Richard Almer Lindsay, had a profound impact on my life and I was very close to him. He died in 1987 but I often think of him and miss him dearly to this day. In fact, just writing this and thinking about him brings a tear to my eye. Some of what makes me who I am today is because of who he was and how he impacted my life. The morals and character traits that he passed on to me were passed on to him by his family. That made the decision easy for me and I research his lines and include them in my tree. He is just as much a part of my family as my genetic grandfather, whom I never met.

The second part of this is whether to include adoptive parents or even the real parents of someone who was adopted. I think the decision is just as easy for the same reasons as I state above. Who you are and what you have become was passed on to you by your adoptive parents and they got those traits from their family. My wife’s Aunt, who was adopted, agrees. In an email to my wife discussing the same dilemma, she says “the attitudes, values, and views of the world came from George and Vera, thus, the people we are is what they created.” George and Vera are the adoptive parents of my wife’s father and aunt, so the grandparents of my wife.

I don’t think there is any question on including biological parents even if they gave up their child for adoption. That is genealogy.

I said that the decision in both cases was easy for me but it may not be that easy for someone else, which leads me to this final section. When I started to do a little research on the topic of this post I came across a post from The Genealogue published back in 2007. This particular post is talking about the debate of being a genealogist or a family historian but takes an angle from adoption, which is what my post here is all about. I’m not going to tell you all the post because you can read it for yourself (if you couldn’t then you wouldn’t be reading this one). However, the author poses a question towards the end of his post that should help anyone answer the question whether they should include adopted lines in their genealogy or family history. He asks “What's the point of genealogy and family history research?” If you answer this question then you will know whether to include that ancestor from an adopted line or, as in my case, who is not a ‘blood’ relative.

Until next time, keep diggin’ up your family


Sunset photo by: El_Eduardo


©Copyright 2011 – Christopher Shaw


  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace" []
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  2. Chris - found you on the Geneabloggers website. I really liked this post. While the bio stuff is interesting, the family story comes from the people who raise you. I look forward to reading more of your posts!