Friday, October 19, 2007

Defining Relationships

Thomas MacEntee posted an interesting article recently regarding issues that pertain to genealogy and LGBT family members. The article was both enlightening and thought provoking. I was glad to find somebody willing to bring these sensitive topics to light. These are issues that virtually all genealogists will have to deal with at one point or another.

For myself, I'm not recording anything that I don't know to be a fact when it comes to people's lifestyles. I made a bad assumption a while back about the nature of the relationship a family member had with their roommate and it caused me more than a little embarrassment. I won't make that mistake again. Unless someone "comes out" and tells me something definitive about their intimate relationships I'm not gonna assume anything. I'm not even going to make note of my suspicions or hearsay in the notes section of my genealogy software.

By the way, I use Legacy Family Tree software which does allow a great deal of flexibility when it comes to defining relationships. However, I've yet to figure out the proper way to record my nephew who has three mothers... the biological mother who donated the egg, the surrogate birth mother who carried him in utero, and the mother who has raised him since the day he was born (married to his biological father). I don't even have names for two of the three mothers and don't feel comfortable asking for them. All I can think of to do is make a comment in the notes section and leave it at that. Some choices just don't lend themselves to a drop down list.

How have you dealt with issues regarding LGBT family members or unusual birth circumstances?