In Brazil, when some adoption is authorized by the Justice, it's possible to change the records of the child so the adoptive parents are reported as the parents, leaving no trace of the biological parents.

How can I record such information from adoptions that occured few decades ago? The original documents don't exist anywhere, and the legal documents now state that person A is the child of X and Y, but it isn't biologically true?

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    I made what I hope are small edits to the title and body of the question. Please roll back the changes if you think I didn't quite get it right.
    – GeneJ
    Nov 19 '12 at 12:57

There are many different relationships in our families. Some are decided by biology, some by the law or judicial rulings and some by the way we live. As a family historian, you want to record and describe each of these relationship.

The adoptive parents of a child may take over the legal responsibilities of the birth parents but the biological (or genetic) connection remains.

Examine carefully the tools that you use to find out what options they offer. Some modern software lets you set up multiple parent-child relationships that describe all this complexity.

Some people are concerned to know which parent should be the "main" one or even the "correct" one. The answer is that it depends what you are trying to show, If it is a question of property inheritance then the legal adoptive parents are the most important. But if you are interested in the possibility of inherited health issues, then the birth parents are the ones to consider.


Fortiter has covered the points about what to record here but I'll just add a note of caution: be careful that you understand the legal implications of what you record, and pay particular attention to any privacy laws when and if you publish your data.

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