In a gedcom file, how do I know if a child has been « found » i.e a child abandoned?

In this case, the child has no known ancestor and won't have ever.

Heredis program creates a custom tag « _FIL CHILD_FOUND » but I didn’t found anything in the gedcom specification neither in https://www.tamurajones.net/GEDCOMTags.xhtml

I would like to distinguish between an unknown filiation (unknown at the moment) and an unknowable filiation (which won’t ever be found).

I'm building a SAAS application and I would like a program-agnostic solution which could use only the Gedcom format. The end goal is to produce a « progress table » with percentage of ancestors found by generation, in order to distinguish between a theoretical number of ancestors and the number of ancestors which can be found.

  • 5
    I do rebel at the concept of something that won't ever be known. My understanding is that there were foundlings whose mother was later identified - perhaps by something that she left with the child. There must be a few cases where such identification is deep in the files of the foundling hospital or whatever. Nonetheless, the objective is sensible.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


Yes, you are correct that there is no standard tag in GEDCOM for filiation.

If you are using Heredis or any program that creates a custom GEDCOM tag for filiation, then you can use that tag. Your program should allow you to add a note to that tag and let you put in your note: unknown filiation or unknowable filiation or whatever else you might want to say about it.

The programs that don't have a custom tag for filiation may allow you to enter your own events which when exported to GEDCOM, should place your custom event in a level 1 EVEN tag with your assigned name for the event included in a level 2 TYPE tag. In this case, you can specify the event type to be unknown filiation or unknowable filiation.

Either way, not many programs will display a count of custom events. So you might need to either write a custom program or otherwise use a text processor to scan for and count the filiation events in the GEDCOM file to gather the statistics you want for your progress table.

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    As Louis says not many programmes allow these counts but one that does is Family Historian as it has an inbuilt query capability and its native database is Gedcom.
    – Colin
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 6:21
  • Thank you for your answers, but I've forgot to say that I'm building a SAAS application, so any solution should be program-agnostic and only use the Gedcom format. I've edited my question accordingly.
    – claire_
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 13:31
  • 1
    @bsfoo116: Well, you can't get a program agnostic solution since there is no tag for filiation. The best you could do is give a recommendation on how to enter a filiation into each program so that it will export into GEDCOM in a way that your application will recognize it.
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 1:07
  • Thanks Louis for your explanations, so I've accepted your answer.
    – claire_
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 9:20

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