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.