Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Many placed for adoption are considered to be illegitimate. Different circumstances lead to a woman and man not being married at the time of the birth. But it is the innocent child that carries this label and a stigma is established. Later on when an amended birth certificate is issued, the child becomes legitimate because the record is falsified to say that the adoptive mother was the one to give birth. The result is secrecy. Just how will it later be interpreted?

Just recently I followed a thread on a genealogical mailing list about the illegitimate members on family trees. My first thought was how people don’t let this stigma rest even when say a person placed on a branch is 80 years old. But my being an adoptee of course reminded me that the disgrace that was no fault of ours is never forgotten.

I'm researching both my birth and adoptive family histories. I always make a notation that some of us were adopted because I am one that believes in accuracy no matter what project I'm working on. I'm not ashamed that I was placed for adoption and I don't feel that the others should be. Nor do I feel that anyone should think less of the deceased who were adopted. But we adoptees walk in different shoes than others.

But I do believe and know that at least some other genealogists agree with me that those who think that an adopted person does not belong on a family tree do need an attitude adjustment. While following this thread on the genealogical list it was not those tracing their family trees that dwelled on the not forgotten disgrace. It was family members who showed no interest in the adopted as if they are not family members.

Many brides are pregnant while they are standing at the altar. But because they marry prior to the birth of the child there is no illegitimacy. It is what the parents do before the birth that determines if a stigma will be established. But the child is labeled and it seems that there is something wrong with that picture.

It's a sad world when there are so many worse things happening that not all can overlook the stigma of adoption. But it will never happen because some people dwell upon talking about disgrace. I think most of we adoptees live with a wound that we were left behind but yet we move forward with our lives. Being illegitimate does not stop a person from becoming a great person. I think that there is probably a skeleton in every family's closet. Not every one wants to know about it and turning their head is the way some will deal with the information. Sometimes knowing the details as to why something happened could make people more understanding. Blocking the event from their mind is easier and they can continue to portray that they come from a perfect family.


Grannie Annie said...

It was especially interesting to read how some people on the genealogy list viewed adopted people. Evidentally, we adoptees still carry the stain of illegitimacy. I believe it everything surrounding the adoption process is still a taboo for many people. They may not say it out loud in polite society, but they are thinking it.

I love genealogy too and I agree that those who were children of adoption should be labeled in some way as such on a genealogy line. Secrets don't belong in genealogy!


Joan M Wheeler, born as, Doris M Sippel said...

Interesting. Twenty years ago, when I worked on my genealogy, I placed my adopted name on my adopted family tree, and my birth name on my natural mother's and father's family tree, with both of my names actually.

I found that it isn't the stigma of illegitimacy that is the problem. It is in the back of everyone's mind, true, but they don't say that. The stigma is really "the state of being adopted" and the belief in society that "adoptees aren't supposed to know."

I am perceived to be illegitimate, even though I am not so by birth. The whole idea of "legitimizing" a child through adoption is nuts, in my opinion. I am personally offended that we even have to defend our own births, us adoptees.

I'm a half orphan. I realize you're going to get tired of me saying that, so I'm sorry.

I haven't spent too much time in 35 years pointing that detail out. But now I am because it is important. The laws that seal and then falsify our birth records DO NOT APPLY TO ME. They should not apply to you, either! But they are more offensive to me because I am not illegitimately born!

I do not know how to get this point accross to legislators who continually harp on protecting a hiding mother who may not want her secret to be known. MY MOTHER IS DEAD. There is no secret.

Years age, I attended an AAC conference and was confronted with this issue. I looked at the Bastard Nation T-shirts and was disgusted. I asked Damsel Plum why it applies to me. She said, "Well, you are still a Bastard because the law says yo are." She's right.

She's right! I get angrier and angrier every time I think about the laws that hold us all back from our true birth certificates. None of us deserve this treatment. We are not criminals. Our parents are not criminals. People have sex and have a baby. Married or not. Let's go after the single mothers who have babies by choice to be single!!! OOOhhh! It makes me so mad! We are born, we have a right to our birth certificates. We have a right to be held dear without stigma. We have a right to be respected. RESPECTED. NO DISCRIMINATION.