Why Our Family Tree Shows My Son’s Roots | Arbor Day

I want my son to feel connected to the roots of his family tree. I want him to feel complete.

Rachel Galbraith April 29, 2016
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In 2010 I was privileged to have the opportunity to participate in a television show called The Generations Project. It was similar to the show, Who Do You Think You Are?, which took celebrities and traced their family history back for generations. The Generations Project had the same basis, only it wasn’t for celebrities, it was for normal people, like me.

Over the course of the week we filmed my episode, I was able to talk to living relatives in order to learn more about my ancestors. I was able to read histories and re-live experiences my ancestors had. It was an amazing week for many reasons, but the part of the experience that has stayed with me was how healing it was to know more about the people who had come before me. I gained strength from their stories and their struggles. I saw them in myself. I felt more complete as a person.

At the time I filmed my episode, my family and I were in the “hoping to adopt” phase. I had done a lot of research into adoption, and knew that open adoption was something we wanted, but it wasn’t until I had my own personal experience in learning things about my family tree that I knew how important open adoption would be to our future child.

Our son was born in 2012, and right away I began to put together as much information on his biological family as I could gather. I spent an afternoon in the hospital visiting with his birth mother, learning about her family, and trying to remember as much information as I could. Much of the history I gathered came from the adoption agency paperwork his birth mother filled out. It included the names of her parents and their birth/death dates, as well as the names of her siblings and the children she parented.

I decided to keep all of this information in a book: that way it would be together and he could access it any time he chose to. This book included the information I gathered in the hospital and from the adoption paperwork, as well as any pictures his birth mother sent to us of herself or her family. I’ll admit, at first it wasn’t much. We were still working out our relationship with his birth mother and at times she needed to step away from us while she worked through her own struggles. We understood and gave her space, but I continued to feel the need to collect information for him whenever I had the chance.

Recently, I asked his birth mother if she was willing to provide more family history information. I requested any pictures, names, dates, stories, talents, occupations, and interests she could provide on herself, her parents, and her grandparents. She happily agreed to gather that information for us, and we are anxiously awaiting its arrival.

I am so excited to be able to share this information with our son. I want him to know who he looks like and see where his beautiful, big, brown eyes came from. I want him to know that his birth mother played the drums and his birth father played the piano. I want him to know where his talents originated from. I want him to know the stories of his ancestors: their struggles and their triumphs, their passions and their pursuits. I don’t want him to ever wonder where he came from; I want him to KNOW.

Just as it was healing for me to learn about where I came from, I hope it will be healing for him as well. I’m not naïve to the fact that as a child who was adopted, he will struggle with issues of loss, but I hope and pray that I can give him enough information about his biological family that he won’t feel that he’s lost quite as much. I want him to feel connected to the roots of his family tree. I want him to feel complete.

Roots run deep. They provide stability. My little boy deserves the nourishment and stability his roots can give. He is intelligent, has a fantastic sense of humor, and an amazing sense of rhythm. Those traits did not stem from me. My job is to nurture what nature provided to him. How can I help him to grow if I ignore the ground from which he grew?

It has been said:

“If we know where we came from, we may better know where to go. If we know who we came from, we may better understand who we are.” –Anonymous

I believe this 100% and I am choosing to give him access to the direction his family tree can provide. He deserves nothing less.

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Rachel Galbraith

Rachel Galbraith is a busy mother of five children, one of whom was adopted at birth. She has a Bachelors Degree in social work, and has worked as a medical social worker, specializing in the field of women and children. She was privileged to play a small role in the adoptions that often took place on her hospital unit. Writing has become her own personal form of therapy, and she is excited to combine it with her love of adoption. In her free time, she has a love-hate relationship with distance running. She readily admits to doing it only so she can eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.


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