Lately I've been working with a few clients who are either adopted themselves or who have a parent or grandparent who was adopted. Many of these people are just starting to find out more about their families through genetic genealogy, but a lot of them are still in the dark, and might always be. I've also been thinking lately about people in my own life who have a parent or grandparent who was adopted, disrupting the genetic family chain, possibly permanently.
In genealogy, we always talk about how important it is to know where we come from to understand more about who we are as people - what makes us tick, who in our families are we like, what traits did we inherit? So what does this mean for people who are not genetically part of their family? Does genealogy care about them? Should they care about genealogy?
Genealogy is about genetics, yes - who you got your blues eyes from, where you got your artistic talent from, what peoples handed down the genes that you carry in your body today, be it Celtic, Native American, West African, Mediterranean, Jewish, etc. But genealogy is more than that - genealogy is about FAMILY, and family can be through birth or it can be through choice. Some traits get passed down genetically, yes, but others get passed down through relationships. Tradition, inspiration and lessons are not encoded in our DNA - they're passed on in stories and through shared experiences. So even if your family tree isn't "really" your family tree, it is STILL your family tree. Maybe your family is Italian, and you are Asian, but you still inherited your Sicilian great-grandmother's meatball recipe, which you can pass on to your children; you still gained an appreciation for classical music from your grandfather; you still sing the same lullaby to your baby that your mother sang to you and her mother sang to her; you still decided to pursue a career in law because that's been your family business for over 100 years...
Genealogy is only half nature...the rest is nurture. Who we are is not just in our genes...it's how our families, how our relationships, how generations of relationships have molded us as people. Sometimes we get too caught up in the genetics, the "nature" of it all...let's not forget about the PEOPLE, and how we were, and continue to, nurture.