Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Parentage: The Complexities of Genealogy

I have been sitting on this particular article for more than a year, debating whether to post or not. Well, a recent article in the New York Times has convinced me that I should sent this out. So, here goes:

A few years ago, in her office as First Lady, Hilary Clinton wrote a book titled, It Takes a Village. Although the book doesn’t have anything to do with Genealogy or Family History, the title implies an interesting idea for the field of Genealogy. Is a blood line truly the most important consideration in researching family history? If a person is adopted, does that diminish their family history? If it is impossible to trace their family line, does that diminish the research potential?

Sometime ago, I mentioned on my blog (www.historybybrubaker.blogspot.com 26 July 2007) that an author had estimated that in some communities in the country 25 percent of all Americans do not know, or have a misconception about their parentage. If this statistic is accurate, how does that affect Genealogy and Family History?

Here is where Hilary Clinton’s book ties into this discussion. Maybe we should consider the issue of environment over genetics. Is it more important to consider the parents a person grows up with, rather than the individual’s genetic make-up? The “nature vs. nurture” debate will go on forever. In genealogy and family history this is a very personalized question and the answer can be as simple or complex as you want. Do you consider the man and woman who raised you your parents? Or, do we really need to track down the sperm donor in an effort to complete our family trees?

And, with the advances in science, what does all of this do to our family trees? The questions become more and more difficult to answer. Because Family History is such a personalized process, how you answer the questions are also very personal. The discussion, though, will challenge us all.

No comments: