14 July 2011

Who’s on the Family Tree? Now It’s Complicated (NY Times Article)

Creating accurate family trees has gotten more complex as “family” composition has changed and our relationships to others are now sometimes defined differently than was ever thought possible.  With all these new relationships, one has to consider does a tree reflect just “genetics” and/or connections through unions (marriage, partnerships, etc)?  How do you handle adoptions and other “legal” relationships?

Read this thought-provoking article by Laura M Holson, published in the NY Times, 4 July 2011.

Laura Ashmore and Jennifer Williams are sisters. After that, their relationship becomes more complex.

When Ms. Ashmore and her husband, Lee, learned a few years ago that they could not conceive a child, Ms. Williams stepped in and offered to become pregnant with a donor’s sperm on behalf of the couple, and give birth to the child. The baby, Mallory, was born in September 2007 and adopted by Ms. Ashmore and her husband.

Then the sisters began to ponder: where would the little girl sit on the family tree?

“For medical purposes I am her mother,” Ms. Williams said. “But I am also her aunt.”

Many families are grappling with similar questions as a family tree today is beginning to look more like a tangled forest. Genealogists have long defined familial relations along bloodlines or marriage. But as the composition of families changes, so too has the notion of who gets a branch on the family tree…

Read the full article.

Editor’s Note: Do know that NY Times articles, and those of other newspapers, do not always remain “live” for an extended period of time.  And, it’s also not unusual that other newspapers pick up the same article, though it might be titled differently, and so be available in this manner.

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