Biological family trees are generally the root of genealogy, but at MyHeritage, we understand that shared DNA is not the only thing that makes a family. If you are an adopted child, or your family tree includes adopted children and adoptive parents, your family tree can reflect that. This article will describe how to indicate adoptive and stepparent/stepchild relationships on your MyHeritage family tree.
Indicating an adoptive relationship
The option to indicate an adoptive relationship to a set of parents can be found in the full Edit Profile page in the “Family” section.
To reach this section on an existing profile, click the child’s person card to open the left-hand details panel and click the “Edit” button. Add any essential details, then click the “Edit more” link on the bottom left corner of the window.
If you’re adding the child as a new profile, the “Edit essential details” window will pop up after you click the + icon or “Add relative” and select the relative type.
Clicking “Edit more” will bring you to the full Edit Profile page. On the left-hand menu, select the “Family” section.
Here you will find the individual’s parents listed, and beneath their names, you’ll see a dropdown menu labeled “Relationship to parents.” You can select “natural child,” “adopted child,” or “foster child” from this menu.
Then click “Save & continue” to move to the next section of the Edit Profile page, or “Save & close” to go back to your family tree.
An adopted relationship is indicated with a dashed line.
Adding two sets of parents on MyHeritage
While it is easy to indicate an adoptive relationship on MyHeritage, it can get a little complicated to add both sets of parents to the family tree — but it can certainly be done! The difficulty stems from a limitation within the current MyHeritage family tree building system: you can only connect a pair of existing profiles as biological (“natural”) parents when a child is already connected to adoptive parents. You can’t add new parent profiles for a child who is already connected to other parents (adoptive or biological), and you can’t connect existing profiles as adoptive parents to a child who is already connected to natural parents.
This means that in order to add two sets of parents for a child, you must:
- Use “Remove connection” to disconnect the child from any parents who are currently connected
- Use “Connect to existing person” to connect the child to the adoptive parents, and change the relationship to “Adopted child” as described above
- Use “Connect to existing person” to connect the child to the natural parents
If one of the sets of parents you’re adding don’t have existing profiles on your tree — e.g., biological parents who are not related to the adoptive parents — you will need to create their profiles independently before connecting them to the child.
Sounds complicated? Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the process and show you some shortcuts.
Adding related biological parents of an adopted child
If the biological parents of an adopted child already appear in the family tree (as relatives of the adoptive parents – for example, if an aunt and uncle adopted their nephew), indicating this relationship is very straightforward. Click the adopted child’s person card to open the left-hand panel, and click the three-dot “More” button in the top section of the panel. In the menu that opens, click “Connect to existing person.”
In the following window, select “Connect to a parent.” A search bar will appear below where you can type in the name of one of the child’s biological parents. If the biological parent you have selected has more than one partner on the family tree, a dropdown menu will appear where you can choose the correct couple (or the parent as a single parent). Once you’ve selected the biological parents, click “OK.”
The adopted child will now appear in two places on your family tree: as an adopted child of the adoptive parents, and as the biological child of the biological parents. A gray “x2” icon will appear on the top left corner of person card to indicate that the child appears in two places on the tree.
Adding unrelated biological parents of an adopted child
The most straightforward way to add unrelated biological parents, in theory, would be to add them as parents of the adopted child. However, due to the limitations mentioned above, this process would be complicated. You’d need to disconnect the child from the adoptive parents so you could add the biological parents. Then you’d have to disconnect the child from the natural parents so you could reconnect the child to the adoptive parents, indicate the adoptive relationship, and only then reconnect the biological parents!
Fortunately, there is a shortcut. You can add one of the biological parents as a child or sibling of someone in the family, then disconnect that (incorrect) relationship, add the other biological parent if relevant, and then connect them to their biological child.
Confused? Don’t worry — here’s exactly what to do.
First, make sure the child’s relationship with the adoptive parents is indicated on the tree. You can check this easily by looking at the line connecting the child to the parents: if it’s dashed, that indicates an adoptive relationship.
Next, pick any person in the family tree, click “Add relative,” and choose any family member type.
In the “Edit details” window, add the essential details of one of the child’s biological parents. Then click “OK.”
The biological parent will now appear as a relative of someone in your family — but that’s okay, you will fix that now. Click the “More” button in the left-hand profile panel of the biological parent and select “Remove connection.”
Select whatever erroneous connection the individual has to someone else in the tree and click “OK.”
Now the biological parent will appear on his or her own in a separate family tree.
To add the other biological parent, click the + icon and select “Partner.” Enter the other biological parent’s details and click “OK.”
Now, return to the adopted child’s profile by entering the child’s name in the search box on the upper right corner of the screen and clicking on his or her name.
In the child’s left-hand details panel, click the “More” button and select “Connect to existing person.” Select “Connect to a parent,” and then enter the name of one of the biological parents into the search box that appears below. Select the biological parent and click “OK.”
This will take you to the separate biological family tree of the adopted child.
At this time, the MyHeritage interface is programmed to display the biological family by default. You can always return to the adoptive family tree by searching for an individual who appears in that tree, such as the adoptive parents or siblings, using the search box in the upper right corner of the screen.
Adding unrelated adoptive parents of a biological child
So what do you do if the biological child of someone on your family tree was adopted by a set of parents who are unrelated?
First, you’ll need to disconnect the child from the natural parents. (Don’t worry, you’ll reconnect them later.) On the child’s left-hand details panel, click “More” and select “Remove connection,” then “From parents,” and click “OK.”
The child will now appear as a lone individual on a new family tree.
Now you can add the adoptive parents as you add any set of parents: click the empty spaces above the person card, or click the + icon or “Add relative” and select “Add father” or “Add mother.”
Once you’ve added the adoptive parents, click “Edit” in the left-hand profile panel and the “Edit more” link, then navigate to the “Family” section of the full Edit Profile page. Change the relationship of the child to the parents to “Adopted child” as described at the beginning of this article, then click “Save & close.”
Now you can reconnect the child with the biological parents. In the child’s left-hand profile panel, click “More,” and select “Connect to existing person.” Select “Connect to a parent,” find the biological parents and select them, then click “OK.”
The child is now connected to both sets of parents.
Adding an adopted stepchild
If you would like to indicate the relationship of a stepparent to their stepchild as that of an adoptive parent, you’ll need to follow a similar process as the one described above: first disconnect the child from the natural parents (“More”>“Remove connection”>“From parents”), add the child as the child of the adoptive parents (“More”>“Connect to existing person”>“Connect to parent”), indicate the adoptive status of those parents (“Edit”>“Edit more”>“Family”>“Relationship to parents”>“Adopted child”), and then reconnect the child to the natural parents (“More”>“Connect to existing person”>“Connect to parent”).
The child will now appear twice on the tree: once as the adopted child of the natural parent and stepparent, and once as the natural child of both natural parents.
Biological and adoptive families in Pedigree view and Fan view
When you choose an adopted child as the root individual in Pedigree view or Fan view, that person’s biological ancestors will appear by default. However, if you click on the adopted child to open the left-hand details panel, you’ll see both the biological and the adopted parents listed below any partners or children. You can click “Biological parents” or “Adoptive parents” to select either set of ancestors to display on Pedigree view or Fan view.
To learn about adding adopted children to your family tree in greater detail, watch Daniel Horowitz’s Ask the Expert session Recording Adoptive Parents.
Are you an adopted child searching for your biological family? Read some useful tips for adoption-related research in this guest article by Brianne Kirkpatrick.