One Parent Families in Descendant View

I promise this is an RM related message, but I need to start with a census record to explain what’s going on.

This census record originally led me to believe that Charles Black age 5 was the son of George E Black and Jessie. It turns out he was not their biological son, but I did not know that at the time. Mildred age 6 was in fact their biological daughter, and they had another biological daughter together named Helen who died as an infant before the 1920 census. So I had the family entered into RM with George and Jessie as the parents and with Mildred, Charles, and Helen as the children.

I recently discovered that this Charles Black was the biological son of a John Black and his wife Agnes. John and George were brothers, so that George and Charles were really uncle and nephew instead of father and son.

John Black and Agnes were married about a year before being divorced with Charles having been born about ten months into the marriage. The divorce decree granted custody of Charles to Agnes. John then served in WWI in France where he died, leaving the divorced Agnes without any financial support for herself or her son. The result was that George went to court and officially adopted Charles with the permission and approval of Agnes.

So the question became, how should I change my data entry into RM and how would RM display the information? I obviously entered John and Agnes as a second set of parents for Charles because they were the birth parents. But what about George’s family? I should add that George adopted Charles and Jessie did not. And George and Jessie were divorced not too long after George adopted Charles.

I may or may not have made the correct choice, but I chose to remove Charles from the family of George and Jessie. I then created a new family with George as the father and nobody as the mother and added Charles as a child in this family. The net result is that Charles had two sets of parents - birth parents John and Agnes and adopted parents George and nobody. And it’s really the nobody that I want to talk about.

Here is what George’s family looks like in the Family tab of the RM7 sidebar.


The thing to notice is that the spouse field for the the family with Charles as the child is blank. I think that’s a very good thing. It’s not that there was an adoptive mother and we don’t know who she was. There was not an adoptive mother.

Here is what George’s family looks like in the Family tab of the RM10 sidebar.


The thing to notice is that except for very minor stylistic differences, the RM10 Family tab looks pretty much identical to the one from RM7. In particular, the spouse field for the family with Charles as the child is blank. I think this remains as a good thing in RM10, just like it was in RM7.

It now starts becoming much more interesting because we are going to start looking at Descendant View. Here is what George’s family looks like in RM7’s Descendant View set to 2 generations.

There is a major problem because there is no blank space left for the missing spouse. It looks like there is only one family instead of two. But we can’t go back and fix RM7.

Here is what George’s family looks like in RM10’s Descendant View set to 2 generations.

This is much better than RM7, and I always like to give props to RM8/9/10 whenever it’s warranted. This is a case where props are warranted because RM10 makes very clear that there are two families by including the Unknown spouse.

In the case of biological parents we always know that there were two parents, even if we don’t know who they both were. And it’s even more complicated these days because sometimes the DNA mother and the gestational mother are not the same person, and sometimes there can be anonymous sperm donors. But biologically, there are two parents even if we don’t know who they both were. But in the case of adoptive parents or foster parents or any other kind of parents except for biological parents, sometimes there really is only one parent. It’s not like there are always two and sometimes we only know who one of them was. Sometimes there really was only one non-biological parent.

This makes me wonder if RM10’s Descendant View might be better served by keeping the line for the Unknown Parent but leaving the label blank. In other words, do it just like the Family Tab in the sidebar do it in both RM7 and RM10. Many users don’t like the terminology of an Unknown Spouse anyway when there was no marriage involved. But this is a case where the second spouse is not unknown. The second spouse doesn’t even exist. So why not leave it blank? Here is what it would look like.