Setting scope on an adoptee or birth mother’s search for family

This past week has been one where many family trees and other investigative work with both adoptees and birth mothers have seen some progress. However, many of the people I am working with have their family trees matured to a level that require a closer examination on a generation-by-generation level.

If you have ever looked at a genealogist’s family tree, there are times when the preference focuses on a specific branch. We don’t have that luxury. Depending on how many genetically linked cousins line up with our current adoptees position designated on the tree, there may be times where that could be shifted somewhere else more promising of results. In moving about to another location on our tree the parents, grandparents and so on, require building out to try and establish potential matches further out.

It is not unusual to blossom out several generations out above many different candidates that fit our non-identifying information in attempts at finding other genetically linked cousins that align with our family tree. For this reason our genealogy is much different than you standard researcher who focuses on people who are related to the home individual on their family tree; usually focused on an individual, their parents and so on.

Again, this is where good note taking becomes essential and always setting a known genetically linked cousin as the home person we are going to use as our focal relative who would eventually line up with an adoptee. So if a third cousin is our closest match on AncestryDNA, then we will build out a tree based on them but never exceed beyond the third cousin, once removed level on our tree. That sets architecture to frame our scope. Not dissimilar to drawing with an old fashion compass with a pencil; a radius going from the third cousin out to a range that we should not exceed.

So no matter how many individuals we move backwards in time, we will always be no further out than our closest relative with their estimated relationship range. While you might think that might be a low number, it can easily exceed over two thousand people or more depending on the size of each generation, the children and their children’s children create. While it might sound dizzying, it is actually manageable if we take good notes. We can always stop building a family tree, change it to “list mode” on and then search page by page for specific dates that line up with our birth parents estimated age and year born; based on the birth year of our adoptee.

Birth mothers looking for their children are quite different. In those cases we are using what information we know about the child and anything that might have been discovered during the adoption process. Sometimes that is a little, sometimes a lot. In each case we discover likely candidates then try and align those adopted parents with children showing the exact location and date of birth. Ask any genealogist, finding living relatives in modern times in a family you don’t have access to is tricky. Some have family trees are online. However, there are certainly many who are not. So other methods are used to try and acquire that information.

In all cases, as stated previously, these family trees we work on are set as hidden and unsearchable so we are not spreading misinformation into the genealogical community. Believe me, they don’t need anymore-amateur family trees spreading misinformation than exist already. There is no better way to upset the genealogical community then to be reckless with what information we do have.