Can you recommend a resource for my tree?

+6 votes
Although this is a nice site, it doesn't quite meet my needs. Is anyone aware of a site they can recommend to me that allows only biologically connected parent-children relationships to appear on one's tree?  Or, is the only resource for this this type of family-only on family trees now the exclusive realm of the DNA testing companies like  I have hesitated to use that one for the 29,000+ entry gedcom I have because the visibility is so limited that matching dead ancestors will be a mind-bogglingly time consuming task.
in The Tree House by Michele Camera G2G Crew (510 points)

4 Answers

+3 votes
Hi Michele, I think a DNA website would be the only place you might know for scientific fact that a connection is biological.  Even at that, undocumented adoptions sometimes occurred when children were orphaned in rural and wilderness areas, so a child could be raised in one family, but the biological child of another family.

What are you actually looking for or trying to avoid?  Is there a particular family line that you are researching biological connections for?
by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (553k points)
Hi Kitty,

I've attached my answer to both you and Mangus under Mangus' reply.

I guess I'll have to more fully investigate familytreedna unless you have a suggestion for a site that isn't tied to testing results but still strives to document family connections based on biology.


Well Kitty,

I've made my first contact with a "match" on familytreedna and thus begins a new adventure. Her line apparently connects to a dead-end line I have that immigrated from Ireland to the U.S. during the 19th century exodus.  The surname of this gg grandfather and maiden name of this gg grandmother are so common on both sides of the Atlantic that I had filed this headache under "might not ever be answered".  We both have these two surnames on our paper trees - I not knowing the birthplaces, parents or sibilings of either ancestor. She not knowing that any of her relatives had emmigrated to the U.S. We still have work to do to find paper records to support what we found in shared DNA. Although she and I share several DNA segments, she and my daughter share none. So, we sent off for a kit for my mother and I'll work on my niece to do the same. Meanwhile, I'll go bother the secretary at the parish where these gg grandparents married and had their children baptized and start digging around the census and passenger lists databases again since it might not be as daunting a task now that we, at least, have a clue about from where in Ireland the family hails.

Incidentally, all this is part of my family not the people who adopted me. In direct response to your question, I am the only adoptee in my family - of which I am aware. Although I found, reunited and even was legally adopted back by my natural parents...having had this experience I am sensitive to the fact that in this country, if you want an infant that matches you racially, and you have enough money, you can buy whatever you want and make everyone around you pretend you had a child.  Six years ago, when I got involved on this tree, I had high hopes that it would highlight just how many adoptions there are, how they necessarily destroy one family in order to "create" another one, and how this process leaves each adoptee rootless and unattached to the rest of humanity. But, I see now that the adoptive parent side of the triad wins again in that this is no longer a vehicle for carrying that truth and there are plenty of adoptees that would rather pretend along with the status quo than face the frightening truth that they just don't know from where they came.  And so, nothing about the way adoptions are conducted in the U.S. will change in the foreseeable future.

For all I care at this point, all of the 10,000 profiles I've created here can (and some probably will) be marked by other genealogists as having non-biological parentage without disconnecting the two people.  Who cares at this point. I'll maintain an offline tree and continue to glean what, if any, accurate info I can find here and transfer it to my offline database as I do with any other source of potential information.
+2 votes

If you follow the father mother relation you will follow the biological if if if people has done it correct.... or?!?!? Please explain the issues you see....

If you like doing reports then you can export Gedcom and use reporting tools that have the functionality you are looking for e.g. The Complete Genealogy Reporter

29000 gedcoms entries seems a lot. At WIkitree we focus on genealogy i.e. you have a fact and you motivate it with a source and if you have a correlation problem you need to describe your conclusion so other people understand it.... 

My opinion I dont see wikitree as just a storage of gedcoms the great benefits are that we share the same tree

  • Working together with other people interested in Genealogy
  • Away of publish your family tree with DNA tests done and easily work together with other DNA tested people to see if you have a match
  • Learn from other people who can give you a second opinion on the research you have done.
    • Maybe you havnt find all possible sources
    • Maybe you have documented the citations in a way that its not easy to understand
    • Maybe the conclusion you have done is not easy to follow
  • Find other people having more information aboutyour family tree
If you feel that is of interest for you then join Wikitree and my advice is start small dont upload 29000 records if they are not well sourced..... 
by C S G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
Hi Kitty, Thank you Magnus, I appreciate your suggestion. But it's no longer a good fit.

Yes, 29k profiles is a lot. I inherited the gedcom from a cousin who spent 50 years working the genealogy. It then went to my mother who worked it for 10 years. She, my brother and I have been adding to it for the past 25 years. The tree not only follows our direct lines but also adds in spouses and their lines as well as corollary relatives for all. It looks more like hedge than a tree.  Wikitree, when it first went online was a great fit for this wide data set. I found cousins I hadn't known existed and our trees were connected. The collaboration was fun and productive. A good portion of the file has been uploaded already as I had been added it in pieces over the past 5 or 6 years. But I closed my profile here when the site decided to start allowing people to add strangers connected through adoption as parents and simply noting them as "non biologic".  That is the calyst for my request to find a site that documents only actually related relatives who share DNA.  And this is the most knowledgeable group of genealogists with which I have contact.  I am loathe to duplicate all this work, but if I am going to recreate this huge file somewhere I want it to be in an archive that is accurate both now and in the future when I am no longer alive to maintain the profiles. With this new option, there is no way to assure that entire limbs of trees won't end up "related" to people connected only through adoption.  I spent a heck of a lot of energy on the desire to know my own history after spending the first 29 years of my life as an adoptee and feeling unconnected to the rest of the human species. I found my birth family. My parents actually went to the trouble of adopting me back as an adult. So, I have come full circle but leave a messy paper trail behind me. I will be some future genealogist's nightmare if I don't document the heck out of this series of events now.

+3 votes
The estimates for "non-paternity events" in genetic genealogy average around 10% (about 2 - 4% in newer studies, as high as 30% for historic time periods). Not knowing how many different families are in your 29,000 people that nevertheless results in a lot of father-child relations that might not be biological, unless, of course, all 29,000 people are proven to be related within their respective families by DNA analysis.

It appears to me that after a thorough DNA study of all your people you might end up with a lot less people - or you might have to live with the knowledge that a rather large part of your family may not be biologically related.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (542k points)
+1 vote
It is my understanding that the non-biological relationship option is only for Private profiles for living people:
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (552k points)

"Non-biological" can be used anywhere. After the "non-biological" parameter became available, I added it to the previously recorded father relationship for Niclaas Schoonhoven, who was born in 1685.

That biography doesn't discuss his paternity, but information cited in the profiles for the parents (Deborah Davids and Hendrick Claessen Van Schoonhoven) makes it pretty clear  that he was not his father's biological son. That "non-biological" parameter is supposed to prevent that particular father-son connection from appearing in a yDNA chain. Added: But that "non-biological" parameter doesn't work. shows Y chromosome inheritance from Hendrick to Niclaas to Niclaas' son.

Please note: The introduction of the "non-biological" parameter didn't cause that non-biological father to be connected to Niclaas. Someone (not me) had previously created those profiles and connections; they may have been unaware of the historical records regarding Niclaas' paternity. The non-biological parameter is supposed to be a convenient way to ensure that DNA genealogists aren't misled by the linkage. As others have noted here, most "nonparental" events of the past aren't documented like this one was.

Hello Ellen,

I don't believe you should have added non-biological to Niclaas Schoonhoven.  That help page states that non-biological is for private living people.

Sincerely, Peter

The non-biological parameter is available on all profiles. That page you cited says that  if the adoptive parents are used on a private profile, they should be marked as Non-Biological. It also says that non-biological parents aren't supposed to be attached on older profiles. However, that happens -- same as other errors happen.

That page says that the non-biological parameter will prevent incorrect DNA test connections. That seems like a good thing to do for non-parental events of the past, until such time as the biological genealogy can be properly sorted out. Added: There's more information about that parameter on

{Niclaas Schoonhoven isn't my ancestor (at least not that I know of!); I'm not on that trusted list; and I haven't researched the Schoohoven family. I added the parameter to improve information quality for someone else's family.}

I disagree that using non-biological is a good thing to do for non-parental events of the past because that help page states that the WikiTree community has made the choice that our tree should be genetic.

Sincerely, Peter
Well, WikiTree also has made the choice to exclude information that is contradicted by sources, but plenty of erroneous information gets entered anyway, and we need to be gentle with each other while we negotiate correction of the errors. That's a reason why I sometimes mark a parental relationship as "uncertain" -- I'm pretty sure it's wrong, but major changes should not be made without reaching a mutual understanding among the people who are interested in the profile, and the "uncertain" entry notifies people who are browsing the tree (primarily in relationship finder) about  the likelihood of an error. I see "non-biological" as a similar situation.

From a practical perspective, since the baptism record for Niclaas Schoonhoven names Hendrick as the father and several different WikiTree contributors have independently created profiles for Niclaas that showed this paternal relationship, it's going to be difficult to make that connection go away -- and stay away.
And this exchange is exactly what I foresaw when the non-biological option was added - only with the added twist of living people intentionally adding non-biological non parents, and then dying. As far as I know there is no automated fix when the adoptee passes to the great beyond, so every one that uses this option will turn into this type of problem as soon as they expire. Then, I mentally envisioned this occuring on ever continent and in every generation - and wooosssshhh data integrity goes right out the window. Even if every single family isn't effected, it will make a big enough mess for this rat to jump ship.

So, is my best bet to cobble my tree to the trees of my cousins on and then to leverage to keep track of the DNA tests? Because, I don't see any other viable suggestions to my question.

Michele, it is inevitable that nonbiological relationships are present in all of our family trees. Our ancestors sometimes adopted orphaned children without the adoptive arrangement being documented for posterity. Throughout human history, babies have been born as a result of nonmarital relationships, but paternity tests weren't available until very recently.

Particularly when I consider the prevalence of unknown non-biological relationships, I don't understand how your family tree will be contaminated by the labeling of some known non-biological relationships.

Great points, Ellen!

Michele, I'm not sure you're understanding our Non-Biological indicator. Data integrity and future development is what it's all about.
Peter, as Ellen pointed out, the non-biological button is right there on every page.  Why should someone bother to read the instructions when the button is there, just waiting to be ticked?

And then there is the assumption that everyone using WikiTree is going to bother to read instructions.  Many undoubtedly do, but there will also be many who don't.  And of those who do read the instructions, I think it's safe to say that not everyone will follow them.  There always be a few people who are convinced that they should be able to do what they want, whatever the instructions may say.  (This is the second thread I've gotten today regarding the problem of adoptive parent/child relationships and people doing what seems right to them, irrespective of what the instructions say.)

I personally think that button was, however a quick fix it might have been, not the best solution to the adoption problem.  If there were nice looking templates (adoptive father/adoptive mother/adoptive child) that could be added to a person's biography as part of the linking process, and they were easily found, that might be one solution.  They could be big, attractive, and have a space for adding the link.  This might encourage more people to use a link in the biography rather than choosing to add adoptive parents as biological parents.

Another solution would be just to add the option for adding adoptive father/mother/child in the same place as the father/mother/child spaces.  This is really what people want, and might increase compliance with "following directions".  It would be more difficult to program, but the choice may well be:  easy programming or accurate trees.

Sorry to go on, but I don't think this problem is going to go away.

Gayle, your suggestion about the template seems perfectly reasonable. But that is just a fancier enhancement of the solution we've had for years - and the one that didn't satisfy the sides of the adoption triad that WANT to represent the legal relationship rather than the natural one. Now that they've got what they want, it will never be least not without those who have clicked the button raising holy Cain. So, we can assume it won't ever be corrected.

I also agree that this is a problem that won't go away any time soon, which is why I decided it best if I just make myself go away. Of course, no sooner did I make that decision than a distant cousin texted me and another phoned to recruit me back to help with research and citations, so here I am.  I feel like Al Pacino's character in "The Godfather"...."Every time I think I get away, they just pull me back in."  Teehee :-)

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