Monday, February 09, 2009

Family relationship mystery

From: Sharryn sharrynclark@yahoo.com
DearMYRTLE,
I know how busy you are and personal questions have to be at the bottom of your priority list. Perhaps, you could find a couple minutes for a question that has been a topic of conversation for years within my family!

My great-grandfather was adopted in 1852. I have a copy of the adoption paper. He was raised as an only child but had fourteen children, (busy). I have much information on this line, but have not considered them a true family line. Before my [grand]-aunt's death in 1975, she indicated to me with strong conviction that her father was the biological son of his adopted father.

Circumstances could account for this as they left Wisconsin, and settled in Boise, Idaho shortly after the adoption. I have found one male relative who could provide a DNA test but he has been less than cooperative.

If you had this line what would you do?

DearSHARRYN,
This is another case of momma's baby, papa's maybe, so don't be alarmed. We've all got them on our family trees, whether we know it or not.

It is possible your great-great-grandmother was married earlier, and a child reputed to have been fathered by another man could have been grounds for divorce. If this woman wasn't married when the child was born, even if the "adopted" father was the biological father, the situation was still problematic. But since the adoption took place, in the eyes of the law, your great-grandfather is the legal heir of his adopted father.

Report the facts in your genealogy management program just as you have described to Ol’ Myrt here.
  1. Enter the data for your great-grandfather with his “adopted” parents, citing the original documents. It is possible to indicate that type of parental relationship in most main stream genealogy software programs.
  2. In notes for your great-grandfather, tell the story as reported by his daughter, describing her clarity of thinking and the various settings for your conversations over time. Explain what your instinct feels was her motivation and why you think her story holds merit.
  3. Collect information on your great-grandfather’s “blood” line, then go to your software program and add another set of parents. Right now you can only go on what the documents tell you. Since you’ve already got the daughter's story in your great-grandfather’s individual notes, it will be easy for anyone to understand your progress with unraveling the mystery.

Remember it is possible to record adopted, biological, proved & disproved lines in most genealogy database programs. Telling the daughter's story in notes on the one common son (your great-grandfather) will make it easier to explain this story to your children and grandchildren.

Now concerning the DNA research: you’d need DNA from your great grandfather and his adopted father to prove or disprove a father-son relationship. (Think the “Maury Povich” TV show here. At least there will be no chair-throwing between them.) You’d have to discuss other options with a Y-Chromosome DNA expert (father’s side) and not mtDNA (mother’s side) to determine if a male line of descent from both sides of the adoption could prove or disprove a relationship here in the 4th generation of descendants.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

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This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to
http://blog.DearMYRTLE.com . Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.