Being a person with a mother, a father, and a biological father makes a few things in my life a bit more complicated: my medical history, my personal relationships, and my family tree.
The family medical history I’ve given to doctors for my entire adult life is now 50% incorrect and unknown. I don’t know what diseases and disorders I (nor my daughters) am susceptible in presenting. I’m also forced to confess to medical personnel that I don’t really know my own father.
I’ve elected to live a truthful life, so difficult conversations with my family and friends is something I’ve had to endure many times over.
The family tree that I’ve worked on for the better part of 40 years is incorrect. Sort of.
I say, “sort of,” because while I have no biological relationship with the only dad I’ve ever known, he and all of the relatives associated with that side of his family are indeed my family, too. They’re still my people. They’re part of my tribe. To remove that branch from my tree would be removing part of who I am. It would make my family tree just as fictional as if I didn’t choose to include my biological father’s branch.
In working with adoptees and people with misattributed paternity, there seems to be an underlying belief from people not familiar with genealogy practices that a person has to be recognized as a “valid” family member; one who is publicly acknowledged by a parent or members of a biological family to embrace their family tree. This isn’t true. While it’s lovely to be accepted by your own family, it’s not necessary. There’s no public recognition or validation requirement to for anyone to be exactly who they are and to pursue their own family history. Your family story is yours. Your biological tree is valid. I can’t think of a single genealogist that would disagree. In fact, most seasoned genealogists understand that there’s likely adoptions and misattributed paternity on nearly everyone’s family tree. All genealogists are in favor of and seek the biological truth. If you feel you need additional permission, you have an entire community of genealogists not only at the ready to give that permission; they’re cheering you on. The true family history you pursue and record could be the explanation why this person here DNA matches that person over there. Genealogists study the past but we keep an eye on the future. The work we do is not only for our own curiosity but to keep a record for future generations.
The online tree I keep on Ancestry includes the ancestry of all three of my parents and I field inquiries from anyone associated with any of them. I’m happy to do so. Permission was given to me at my birth: I am from this man; I was raised by that one. These two men are my fathers. And this is my truth. No one can change the reality of any of it. Not for me, or on behalf of anyone else. And I’m totally good with that.
I hope you embrace all the branches of your tree as well.