The Branch

Genealogy without documentation is mythology – Unknown

Apparently I have been unclear.

That is no surprise to me.

I AM unclear but I am not unclear about what some think I am unclear about it. In that regard, they are unclear. Are we clear?


For the record I have no intent of erasing my daughters branch from our family tree. She will be listed there.

That is not the issue.

The issue is HOW to list her there.

Do I say "Daughter, DOB, etc"

Do I list her by her original name?

Do I list her by her amended?

Does it really matter how I list her just as long as I list her?

Read the comments on the previous post and see how conflicting the various thoughts are.

I am confident if I don't list her she will be ticked off (so will I for that matter).

I am also confident if I list her original name that is disrespectful of her and doesn't recognize who she really is and only recognizes who she was supposed to be. (I could debate that she is both but that is not for this topic.)

If I list her as her legal amended name, she will be ticked off as she has made it clear I am not allowed to make public any connection of me to her.

See the challenge? Read the last sentence again if you don't.

I am like a dog chasing its tail. (Actually documenting your family tree is a bit like chasing your tail…or at least what is behind you.)

I do not deny her.

I don't deny her to my loved ones. I don't deny her to strangers. I openly say I have three children (and she dislikes this). I have her pictures hanging in my home. I have pictures of her on my office desk. I carry a picture of her in my wallet. My sons, her  brothers, know about her and talk about her regularly. My oldest son still has a school project from last year hanging above his bed because it has "sisters picture on it". I talk regularly about her to my family even if they don't ask. I just offer up information. I told my family when she graduated college. I am going to put her on a family tree laden with Irish Catholic conservative real life  avoidant real emotional avoiding snobs. I am obviously public here on the Net.

I don't allow anyone to deny that she is my daughter and I am her mother.

Well, thats not quite true.

I do allow one person to deny that.


She has told me I am not her mother. She has told me she doesn't want me to call myself her mother.

Of course I know that is ridiculous but am I not disrespecting her if I claim my motherhood to HER? (Yeah, yeah, go ahead, argue I am disrespecting myself by allowing it.)

I cry as I write this for I am terrified that every move I make will be the wrong move. I walk on egg shells and say pretty please and try to be light hearted (read: fake) so that she is comfortable and I play by HER rules.  When she says DONT, I dont.  We play a game of red light green light on a regular basis.

If I don't, what happens? I am already on thin reunion ice. I don't want to fall through.

Reality, I don't know what site/software my cousin has used. The issue may be a non-issue. If it is not public, I may be okay with listing her amended name. Interestingly it is QUITE common. I doubt my avoidant skeleton in the closet hiding family is going to look up all the women born with that name and say "hey, wanna come to Fire Island for our next reunion picnic?" without my knowledge.

If it is something public (ala on-line) I could be getting a branch of a family tree rammed up my derriere and lose what precious contact I have with her while I sit there and pick splinters out of my arse.

I just don't know what to do.

I am frustrated I am even putting this much emotional energy into the topic.

6 Thoughts.

  1. I am sorry that all these everyday things that ought to be straightforward are so complicated and emotionally difficult.
    This is going to sound dumb, but … could you ask her? Could you say, “I am adding information to our family’s genealogical site. How would you prefer to be identified there?” Phrased like that, so that her inclusion is not in question, just the name that is used?

  2. Molly – That is actually a good idea. There is no rush to do this. She expects me to write her again around Christmas. I will add the question to my christmas letter to her. Thanks!

  3. Suz, I’m so sorry your daughter is asking you to relinquish your motherhood of her. The heartache must be tremendous. The fact is, when tracking geneology, it’s done by the book. How it happened is how it’s recorded. You don’t “fake” a family tree because somebody in it doesn’t want to be there. The tree doesn’t ask you about your relationship (although you can put that) it just asks the bloodline and circumstances of the family structure.
    If they are using geneaology software to track this information, the probability is the software accounts for this. A couple years back I did a genogram for school, and it had the option to put in miscarriages, abortions, children adopted and children given up for adoption. These kinds of things even have ways to indicate how a person died — natural, suicide, accident, murder, etc. And I do believe if the child is adopted, they allow for a birth and amended name. Just the way they account for maiden and married name, or for a person who changes their name.
    I know some people in your family may balk, and your daughter may wish you would deny it, but she IS a part of your family tree. There is absolutely no refuting that. It’s a fact. And that’s how genology is tracked.

  4. you know I see a parallel in this issue to situations where adoptees contact members of their birth families, despite being asked not to, because they feel it is their right and not their secret to keep. There is much support for that position in forums and on blogs. I think a case could be made in the same way that this is not YOUR secret to keep, and you have a right to tell the truth and put all the information you have out there.
    Having said that, I do understand your dilemma and got stuck at the same point on a geneology project I was doing. I chose to list my dd as “born Original Name, adopted by X & Y Last Name”. What’s stumping me was what to do about her dad and half-sibs on that side (since she has nephews and nieces over there).

  5. I wonder if the situation were reversed. She doing a geneology. How would she list herself?

  6. JMO….
    It seems to me that if she is not contacting you, that this is Your Input, Your Project. You can’t do anything to please her, because she won’t tell you.
    You have to deal with how to make these decisions without her. You can’t always think so much about what she would want… because it can only force you to chase your own tail. If later on she says to do something else with all the decisions you have made, if it is editable, then you can change it then.
    And, I must say, I am also a people pleaser. I am always thinking of how to word things a certain way, thinking of what they would want, and if they don’t tell me, it makes it harder, and so on.
    But, this is Your Healing. You should be able to do your healing in whatever way you like. You can’t please her. So do what You want to do, and for you.

Comments are closed.