However, have you ever thought about how projects like these affect children who are raised within so-called 'non-traditional' family groups? What about for children who are adopted, in the foster care system, or for whom their primary caretaker is a non-blood relative? According to recent research, less than half of all American children today live in a traditional, 'nuclear' family household. The genealogical community needs to be welcoming to people of all types of family backgrounds, and help everyone celebrate and embrace their family members' stories, even if they are not related through blood. (Perhaps a topic for a separate editorial, but I truly believe the Millennial and Post-Millennial generations of genealogical researchers will seek out more and more ancestral records for people who are not necessarily of a blood-relation to them, but with whom they still formed close, loving, and familial bonds.)
So, if a young person came to you for help in making a "family tree," would you be prepared to assist them if they told you they were adopted, or had two moms, or perhaps thought of their step-father as their true father? In order to help you do so, I have compiled a small list of books, articles, and other online resources that speak to embracing and depicting all-inclusive family trees. I have also included some of the articles and blog posts on this website's Resources page.
In Schools, Family Tree Bends With Times The New York Times 7 Feb 1999
The Roots of the Problem The Boston Globe 31 Mar 2009
Who's on the Family Tree? Now It's Complicated The New York Times 4 Jul 2011
Celebrating Adoption: "The "Family Tree" Project Never A Dull Moment Blog 28 Nov 2011
Adoption Awareness in School Assignments: A Guide for Parents and Educators (PDF)
Author: Christine Mitchell
Adoption Competent School Assignments Fact Sheet (PDF) Minnesota Dept of Human Services
Tackling Tricky Assignments (PDF) AdoptiveFamilies.com
The Family Tree Becomes a Vine Guideposts.com
Family Trees for Non-Traditional Families FamilyTreeTemplates.net
Family Tree LGBTQ Parenting Network Sherbourne Health Centre of Toronto, Canada
Lucy's Family Tree Written by Karen Halvorsen Schreck, illustrated by Stephen Gassler III
I also encourage you to check out some of the craft ideas pinned to the 'Genealogy Ideas from the Web' board on the Growing Little Leaves Pinterest page. Here you will find some great child-friendly ways to celebrate and visualize family and family history without having to fit your family into a stereotypical pedigree chart.