In the news: non-traditional family trees

BE will be in first grade in the fall, and so far we’ve avoided the dreaded family tree project. I’m quite certain that this will come up while she’s in elementary school, and I’m not looking forward to it. But, I recently read an article in the New York Times titled, “Who’s on the Family Tree? Now it’s Complicated.” The author states that in school, family trees are becoming less common because there are so many “alternative” family situations today. The article features opinions from a sperm donor, surrogate mother, and adoptive parents, among others. I hope the article is accurate in its statement that schools, and people in general, are becoming more aware and accepting of these “alternative” ways to form families.

If you have time, the article is worth a read. And, tell us about your experience with family trees and how you have approached it.


6 thoughts on “In the news: non-traditional family trees

  1. I think that article is very good! Over the years I was in school, I had two family tree assignments, the first was in grade school and was easy: I was able to just put down my family that I had grown up with(it gets confusing, my dad adopted me at two, and my mom never really knew her biological father-but considers her step father to be her dad). But in high school in a biology class we had to do a family tree where we traced certain traits through three generations in our family. That got complicated! I ended up just shifting it and doing my dad’s parents, my dad and uncle, and my uncles kids. That was rather confusing when I had to explain it to the class!

  2. I know in my school district they do a pedigree project in the 7th grade in Life Science class where the students look at genetics and have to make a pedigree for one trait in their family, but they can also make up fictional families for the project or use cartoon characters/etc to do the project, because they are sensitive to students who may not know their genetic/biological parents. It is an issue that we’re careful about, but still do study.

  3. Dealing with the family tree assignments for my children has been HELL.

    I am an adoptee. My children cannot do their family trees because my birth certificate is sealed. (I’m 42 and still cannot find my father thanks to this discrimination.)

    The teachers/administrators in both schools couldn’t care less and did NOT offer my children alternatives. It is disgusting how even my children must suffer due to my sealed identity.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Mara. That’s frustrating for your kids and for you. Adoptees should definitely have access to their birth certificates.

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