Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why I don't love geneology

I bet most folks seeing the title will automatically assume there is an "adoption" angle to this post.  Indirectly there is, and I'll probably get to that by the time I finish rambling.  But the truth is, I hate the whole geneology thing and always have.  I started hating it when my grandmother and mother decided they wanted to be members of the DAR and there was all kinds of fuss and kaffuffle over properly documenting some ancestor or other to make our lineage worthy of joining.  Really?  For a while it seemed like the proper documentation was not forthcoming and one would have though the world had ended.  Even at 9 years old, it all seemed silly to me.  Life should be about the doing, not the looking back and certainly not about feeling all puffed up about who is on what branch of the esteemed family tree.

OK so that details my first issue--those who delve into geneology for what I would term pretentious reasons.  Then there is what I call us, messy families.  Even without adoption, my family qualifies as supremely messy.  First off, my marriage is only recognized in a limited number of states.  So do I create a family tree that shows my inlaws when they are not legally my inlaws everywhere?  My father, with whom I have no contact has remarried numerous times, my mother is now widowed but was married twice. My sister has been married multiple times and has had children by several different spouses. Darn it but ours is far from a neat and tidy "family tree."  I have the feeling if I ever bothered to try and draw it out, it would look more like a rambling thicket.

Then, yes, there are my children.  All adopted.  And I only have any substantial geneology available thus far for one of them. One of the branches of our tree stretches across the globe to steamy India.  Two branches stretch to the heartland of our country and one branch has roots in the East Coast. I have amassed as much information as I could for each of our children. It is part of the giant scrapbook collection that will be their's to take with them when they choose to leave home.  Their biological connections--whatever I know about them--is ALWAYS part of the first scrapbook.  It goes before all the coming home stuff. All the adoption announcement stuff.  It is my way of showing that I know their life began before we became a family.

I absolutely support any and all of my kids in their connections with the rest of their family.  The first ones, the ones whose connections are blood and genes.  They need to know if they can, if they share traits, interests and abilities.  Likes and dislikes. Medical issues.  Ironically I probably have the most connections for my son Rob and yet we were blindsided with a glaucoma diagnosis when he was about 6 or 7 years old. This is a genetic legacy from some family member but apparently it is on his paternal side and I have no connections there.

But for all that I support and embrace all of my kid's family, I still don't want to do a family tree.  Nor do I want my kids to feel that they have to.  Wanting to. Exploring for themselves. Those are good things.  Being forced to explain the complexities of their life and ours is not okay with me.  It is something that needs to happen when they are comfortable and each of them has shown me in different ways when they are ready to share and how much they are willing to share, with the wider world.


Katie Billotte said...

It is interesting to here your perspective on this. I have always loved genealogy, but for a very specific reason. I love cultural history-the lives of ordinary men and women--that usually don't make it into the history books. Finding the branches of my family tree has always seemed like a way to pick out certain ordinary people in the crowd of human history. Some of what I have found is super-mess and confusing (like my one great-grandmother may have had a child by her first husband whom I never knew existed by lived into the 1990s), but I find that strangely comforting too. Does any of that make sense? LOL

Lee said...

That is an interesting take on it Katie and one that I totally had not thought of. Thanks for sharing!