I would like to draw a family tree, but I don't know how to represent some of the relations in the family.

How can I show:

  1. both the adoptive parents and the birth parents for an adopted child

  2. step daughters and sons

  • 1
    Welcome to G&FH.SE! I'd like to encourage you to take the tour and look at our guidelines in the help center about what kinds of questions are on-topic. Your question has more than one question in it -- and asking for book recommendations is the kind of subjective question where each answer might be equally valid -- see What types of questions should I avoid asking?. I've edited your question and its title to bring it in line with the site's guidelines.
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    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


I don't think there is a standard way to distinguish between adoptive and birth parents in a family tree. I would just show two sets of parents instead of the usual one, possibly adding an annotation. Some websites and programs let you distinguish among different types of parents.

Showing step-children seems straightforward. Just show them as being descended from their biological parents. The marriage relationship should make clear who their step families are:

Jane = Mike = Carole = John
     |               |
    Greg           Marcia

Greg and Marcia are step-siblings because their parents are married to each other.

  • Just a small tweak - I like to include the marriage order number with the marriage symbol. Otherwise, it can get pretty confusing.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 3:31
  • @bgwiehle Agreed. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 22:08

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