Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Barbara Stark

First Page



Genealogy isn't what it used to be. Once genealogy was the route to "legitimacy," whether literally--a "fillius nullius," a child of no one, was illegitimate, a bastard--or more fancifully--a tastefully mounted family crest could be obtained for virtually any surname, for a price. Or genealogy referred to the painstaking search for roots, the recovery of a personal history, the excavation of a trajectory that would give meaning to the present. But we are all legitimate now. And DNA testing provides more information than anyone can process, including, for some, the refutation of cherished ancestral myths, a good chance of developing a terrible disease, and even Neanderthals in the family tree. Genealogy is risky business. It remains a threshold issue in intercountry adoption, however, in which voluntary surrender by the birth parents is a prerequisite for a valid adoption."