A genealogical chart denoting parents, grandparents and other relatives in the family as far back in history as information allows. The chart has many branches and consequently resembles a tree in appearance.
Family trees are routinely assigned as a project to schoolchildren. The assignment can be used to advantage in helping adopted children straighten out identity issues over belonging to their adoptive families, if well-informed guidance is provided to the child.
The child will not be as likely to be disturbed by the exercise if adults explain why he belongs on the family tree, namely via the legal and socially approved action of adoption. Each family member's genetic ancestry tree is another reality that should merit discussion; for example, the genetic ancestry of the mother and her parents and relatives is completely different from the genetic ancestry of the father and his parents and extended family. When they married, they formed a new legal entity and together they create their own family tree with their children.
Older children will need caring clarification, pointing out that with adoption, there was a transfer of family membership from one family to another family system. Their birth families still comprise their genetic ancestry trees.
If a family-tree exercise is assigned as a means of teaching genetic inheritance, e.g., eye color, hair color, etc. some experts say that such an exercise could be problematic for the adopted child while others say that the simplest solution is for the adoptive family to be used in the child's "tree." All things considered, the "family tree" assignment should be discarded from school curricula, says the National Council For Adoption.
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©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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