Genealogical Privilege

Family trees are often blank for foster kids and adopted children.

I have discussed the concept of “genealogical privilege” a variety of times before. The reason I keep going back to it is because it is such an important matter to discuss, especially whenever discussing matters that deal with being adopted and/or out of the foster care network.

Geneoalogical privilege is having access (or “privilege” in this case) to information about one’s family and personal history. This includes but is not limited to: one’s family tree, having a general understanding of one’s ethnic background, knowing one’s family medical history, knowing the culture of one’s ancestors and knowing what populations of people one came from (Romani, Jewish, indigenous Americans, etc.).

A lot of people grow up with easy access to this information. They show off their ethnicity with pride. They have family stories to tell of when their parents first traveled to the Americas. They are able to trace their family tree back numerous generations. Culture is not technically past down through DNA, but for those who are cut off from their family tree (such as those who are adopted and/or have gone through the foster care network), DNA testing kits are their only option to learn who and what they came from.

Another added challenge is being considered “Not ___ enough” because the adopted and/or foster child did not group up surrounded by their newly discovered ethnic population. Many adoptees and foster children have faced rejection from their discovered ethnic and/or cultural identity populations because they were not raised by someone of said ethnicity or cultural identity.

I’m a queer adopted healthcare worker who writers in their spare time. I have a MPH degree.