Genealogy and Our Adopted Children
My husband is doing extensive genealogy research. As he had a breakthrough, he emerged out of his office with the news that he found a string of relatives from the 1200’s. My son looked down and was very sad. The day we located some additional news about our genealogy, he asked more about his birth parents. We shared what information we had and then he said “well, I will just hang on to your genealogy mom, since I don’t have any of my own.” I shared that he did and strained my brain to remember what I could from what his birth mother had said many years ago. I had foggy details of the few lone phone calls so very long ago, not much for this young man to get excited over. My heart fell to the ground for him. I fought back the tears; it was so hard to see him in this struggle that need not be.
I am now going over family photos from our great grandparents, and working on framing them. They are precious photos and I handle them with the utmost care and reverence. Since I was 30 when we adopted, he doesn’t remember my grandparents, let alone my great-grandparents. At a recent funeral of my great uncle, I shared with my son the photos of my grandmother’s side of the family. He looks so much like them, even though there was no biological tie. His blue eyes and milky white skin are very different than my Portuguese heritage of olive skin, dark hair and brown eyes.
Once when he was only 5, he found my “color in” shampoo in my shower and used it to look more like me. My blonde son now had red/auburn hair. Bless his heart. Adopted by a full Italian and Portuguese adoptive mother, he wanted to look like mommy and daddy.
What can we offer our children about their heritage? Why is it important to have this to share with them? Where do we start to get this information for them? Is it OK to let them know they have similarities with our families, is this true or wishful thinking? What does the future hold for them – and their ancestors?
Remember to gather and write down all you learn about your children’s biological family when possible. There are many books on helping your children. For waiting adoptive parents, start reading before your child arrives in your home. The more you have and the more you see the value in this genealogy information, the more prepared you will be for the future.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P. (Certified Open Adoption Practitioner) is an adoptive mother, adoption expert, and author of a number of adoption books. Mardie is also the talk show host of Let's Talk Adoption.com with Mardie Caldwell and the founder of Lifetime Adoption in 1986. She travels and speaks nationwide on adoption topics, family topics, infertility and writing. She has been quoted in and consulted for Parenting and Adoption magazines and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, BBC, NBC, and Fox. Featured in Parade Magazine, Caldwell is an adoptive mother living in Northern California.