Geneological Privilege and Family Trees

Dead tree stock art image provided by Diesel-stock on Deviantart

I’m adopted with no information on my biological family. I recently discovered that literally everything on my birth certificate (middle name and surname) could have been made up on the spot by my birth mom. My birth certificate has my adopted parents name on it, not my biological family names on it. I was adopted out of Moscow, Russia in 1994.

Knowing my circumstances, give me a moment to talk about how painful “family tree” assignments are.I hated these assignments in school, and even had an assignment regarding it in grad school. They are just about completely impossible to do if you’re adopted with no information about your biological family.

When it comes to my adopted family, I can go back about 5–6 generations. My biological family tree? Literally I am the only one on it. The closest Dna test kits (I’ve done all the popular ones — 23andme, ftdna, ancestry, myheritage, gedmatch, nat Geo) have found is a second cousin. These digital trees don’t let you add cousins, only people directly related to you, to start the family tree. The second cousin was adopted under similar circumstances (no info on bio family).

I was on the phone with MyHeritage due to an issue I was having. The guy was like “I noticed you don’t have anyone on your tree” and I was like “ya, I’m adopted, no info, possibly faked birth certificate, closest match second cousin” (some variation of this) and the guy was like “well with our tools-” I cut him off and said “no information.”

This conversation went on for a few more minutes. It was like the dude couldn’t possibly wrap his head around the fact why I didn’t have anyone on my tree. The conclusion of this story is that they have me free premium services for a year, HOWEVER, since I have NO ONE on my tree, it’s USELESS. this is because in order to use these features, you NEED at least 1 other person on your family tree.

I have had similar conversations with people face to face as well. It is like the person can not possibly wrap their head around the fact is that some people just can not make comprehensive family trees.

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