One Child's Solution to the Family Tree Project Problem

>> Friday, December 17, 2010

Marianne recently completed her search after many years. She had to get the assistance of the state as an emergency medical search. From information provided by the intermediary the birth family was able to contact her. She has 7 siblings on her mother's side alone! They have even met in person and Marianne is receiving some answers about her medical and family history.
When I started working with her on her search over a year ago, I told her I would do some genealogy searching for her when we found her family. I was able to fulfill that promise and just sent her 15 generations of her family history. This is her reply:

"WOW!  THANK YOU so much!   From a twig to a TREE!   When I was a little girl in 4th grade I got my first F.  "ROOTS" was in full bloom on national television, and everyone wanted to suddenly find theirs!  Our teacher assigned us to research and write out our family tree, and do some sort of art project to go with it. 

Well I went home and told my adoptive parents about this assignment, and they happily shared information about their family.  They took out the family photo's and showed me their grandparents, aunts, uncles great aunts etc...It was all very interesting and fulfilling-for them.  I meanwhile, felt more and more alien with each generation they discussed. 

All of a sudden at the age of 10, I felt more alone then ever. 

I put together a very nice report,(in my opinion). I took a small fallen branch with still smaller branches, and made photo ornaments to hang on each branch, with my mother and fathers pictures at the top.  I turned this in with a written report, citing when and where people were born,etc.   The teacher had us all read our reports out loud.  When it came to my turn she told me that mine was incomplete.  She would let me do mine the next day when I had finished it.  She wanted me to put MY info on my tree. 

Well at this point, call it rebellion-call it feeling very strange trying to be someone you truly were not, call it whatever you will, as I STILL don't know what to call it- I had no place of birth, my birth certificate was blank on identifying information.  I was always introduced by my parents as their adopted daughter,  When I would ask about my ethnic origins my  (a)parents would tell me, that I was something -ish, they didnt remember.  This made me feel like anything that mattered to me or my identity was insignificant in comparison to my adoptive identity.  (Yes- i was 10 and yes- I had these feelings)

 I was really 'feeling adopted' with this "ROOTS" assignment.  Okay Teacher-you want MY family tree, your gonna get it!   I turned in my family tree, as I saw it.  I took a coffee can, painted it pink, filled it with sand and stuck a single twig in it, with my picture atop. My report read something like, My name is Marianne Biondo.  I don't know what name I was born with.  I dont know where I was born, and I think my birthday is right, but I'm not sure.  I don't know where my roots lie.  I am a something-ish.  This is all I know about my roots.

 I got an F.  But even today I am proud of that F, because that was all I truly knew about my "roots".  That F was honest with no bells or whistles."

I thought many of you adoptees would identify, but Marianne had the courage at 10 to speak out. It is incredible even today how insensitive teachers can be on that issue. My grandchildren still get assigned that project and I always wonder if the teachers have any idea how much they hurt the adopted ones.


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