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Legacy Tip - how to add a second set of parents (adopted, etc.)

Question from Tim:

"Can I use Legacy to trace more than one set of parents without creating two different family files?"

Our answer:

Yes Tim. Here's how...

First, notice in the image below (click to enlarge), that John Brown's parents are Charles and Sally Carter Brown. Let's assume that these are his biological parents.


To add a second set of parents (such as adding his adoptive parents) follow these steps:

 1) Click on John's "Parents" icon.


The "Parents of John Brown" screen appears. In the "Relationship to Father" and "Relationship to Mother" fields, you should enter how John is related to each parent.


2) Click on the "Add New Parents" button.


This adds the second set of parents (displayed as "Unknown & Unknown):


3) Click on "Unknown & Unknown", and then click on the "Add Father" button.

Add the information for the father and click Save. Do the same with the "Add Mother" button. Add her information and click Save.

4) Enter how John is related to the second set of parents in the "Relationship to Father/Mother" fields.



When you click on the Select button to return to the Family View, you'll notice that John's second set of parents appear above him, and John's Parents icon now has the number 2 next to it, indicating that he has two sets of parents. When you want to navigate between the parents, just click on this icon and select the other set of parents.


I think this should answer your question Tim. Do others have experience in researching/recording two sets of parents? Do you have other suggestions?


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I've has a question about this. After adding the 2d set of parents, I've found that, in the family view, the kids show up twice. The situation where I see this is: husband adopts the two children of his wife's prior marriage. In the family view with him and the wife, those two children show up twice - once as their children and once as 1/2 children. Is that just the way it is? It's annoying, but I can't figure out how to stop it. Thanks!

Further to my last question: Couldn't remember the sequence of steps I used in setting up that family so I just now unlinked both of those children from both sets of parents and followed the steps above (except I linked them, of course, to an existing married couple instead of adding father and mother). Same thing happens.

As far as seeing the half children: Try right clicking on a childs name in the list and go to the view window and turning off the 1/2 children option. Unfortunately, it will only then show the children of that marriage, but you don't get the repitition.

For my story: I am adopted and had a lot of information on both my birth and adopted families. I have always used this. I also use it for children where the record is unclear as to who the parents are. For example I have a Nancy Detty who married a Joshua Woods. Based her marriage date only, there are 2 families she could be a child of, so rather than combine her to the wrong one each family now has 2 Nancys and the one with Joshua Woods as a husband is listed as a Speculative child. Once I determine where she fits I will merge and delete the "extra" parents.

My thing sometimes is that the mother is usually the biological parent and when she remarries and the new husband legally adopts the kids or youngest kids from the first marriage. I just have to do the mother (or father if the mother passed away before husband) twice. I then usually just have to change the child status on the children.

I do have the 2 different sets of parents who adopt too. So the way that was pictured above...that is easier.

I haven't checked the printing aspects of this yet though. (No printer lol.)

I would like to know if it's a feature or a bug that the program shows the same child twice in the family and pedigree view with 'show half siblings' on.

I understand the logic behind why it occurs, but I'm wondering if it was a programming oversight that a biological and adoptive parent would marry and some type of filtering should occur in the children list (so that the same RIN doesn't get displayed twice if at least one of the parents is biological).

A lot of thought would need to be given to any idea of a filtering solution.

Ah, I guess I never realized that it showed the children twice in these situations. I have now corrected this. When collecting the half-children (who can really be either a half-child or a step-child) Legacy will now check to see if the child is already in the list. If so, it won't display the child again. This will be in the next update.

Dave Berdan

Hey, Dave! Thanks for the correction. Great customer service!

Thank you for the quick response, Dave!

I also never envisioned this situation, so I created a new family file just to test it out. I don't have any adopted family members in close relationship.

Will the applied update always display the "non-half" child record or is there a chance the 1/2 relationship would show over the other?

Dave: Reports (e.g., decendent, ancestor) also need fixed for adopted children. I have a single father who adopted a child. Reports are saying he "had a relationship with someone" and "their" or "her" child is....


The non-half relationship child will always show when there is a matching 1/2 relationship.


This is going to be a tricky one to solve. I put together a spreadsheet with all the possible adoption combinations of Single Father, Single Mother, Father and Mother adopting, Husband Adopting a Mother's child, Wife Adopting a Father's child, combined with single and multiple births and adoptions, and there ends up being 81 different sentences needed to cover them all. I am working on an acceptable solution to handle all of these.


I love Legacy and have been a user for more than 4 years. While Geoff is obviously the instructive "face" of the endeavor, it has taken me this long to find the behind the scenes "creative face."

I deeply appreciate this program's intuitiveness, and like many, only find the "deep stuff" it can do, only to find that it's been able to much of it even on the early flavors of Legacy 6, which I still have loaded on my old Windows 98 machine, even though I'm now on the current version with Vista on my "normal machines" (desktop and laptop).

All that to say, Thank you very much for not only establishing a wonderful "base" program, but for continuing the "tweaking process" in such a way that keeps the base while adding features that the "others" only dream about.

I'm the consumate "if it works better I'll use it" hound. Fact is, no matter what version of the "others" I encounter, your, and your team's, product is simply far and away not only the easiest to learn, its feature list is insurmountable.

Thanks for continuing to make a fantastic experience even more wonderful.

All we need to do now is to come up with a php/sql based online Legacy interface, and I'll dump TNG and phpgedview at the drop of a hat.

Sorry for hijacking this thread just to say thanks, but,

Thank you, VERY MUCH!

Joe Hittle


I have fixed the wording situation that you were having. Next update...

Thank you Dave!

Dave, To "add a fly in the ointment" how do I enter my mother-in-law that was raised from infancy, but probably not legally adopted, by her mother's sister and her husband after her biogogical parents both died? She is listed on two census's with their last name. Stumped


Your mother-in-law's aunt and uncle were probably assigned legal guardianship by the court. If this is the case, you can add her to their family as a child just like you would do for biological and adoptive parents, but set the "Relationship to Father/Mother" (the aunt and uncle) to Guardian. Also use your mother-in-law's Alternate Names (Alias or AKA) screen to record her name as it appeared in the two censuses and her Notes record an explanation.

Jim Terry
Legacy Technical Support

Dave, I have an Aunt who had her brother-in-law child, how best to record this info, or not, the child never married and all person have been dead for over 50 years.

Thanks for the help on adoption situations. I have have a question about surname. I have been assuming that I should enter the adopted last name as the surname - is this correct? Then I've been putting in the birth last name as an alternate name in order to fully document the name trail - is this correct? When I do it this way, the child shows up under both parents, but only with the adopted surname in both cases. This seems a bit odd when the child appears under the birth parents with the adopted last name, but I have assumed that if the name has been changed legally, then the adopted name is the correct one. Maybe all this is a matter of preference, but I'd like to know what the view of a professional genealogist is.

Love Legacy - best program out there!!

I am so happy you are addressing the half sibling, stepchild issue, it has been a real bother to a family where there are a number of divorces and early marriage spouse deaths and remarriages. I always hated that these kids showed up twice, but I definitely wanted them to show up in the new marriage, can't wait for this update!

I have the same problem. My 2nd wife legally adopted my son from my 1st wife (#1 wife died). The problem is wife #2 and I had 2 girls and with 1/2 kids turned on, these girls show under my 1st wife as 1/2 kids, but wife #1 died before they were born, so I don't turn on 1/2 kids anymore. What I did was link my existing #1 son to the #2 marriage and now he appears as a child in both marriages - no 1/2's. Appears to be the best option at this time.

Glad (?) to see others having this problem, and it is so wonderful to have such a timely response to the issues. Like others, I think Legacy is an awesome program. As a programmer, I can respect the issues as being complicated and the necessity for waiting for updates. In the meantime, I appreciate seeing how others are working around the situations. Keep up the GREAT work!

Would it be reasonable to use Legacy feature of setting another set of parents also to record relationships to the known godfather and godmother for the child? Is this something you would recommend or not? If YES, how would it be possible to switch off or on for a person to show godparental child relationships? Also, how would it be possible to search for the godparental relationshp?

Is there a way to show biological and adoptive parents on a pedigree chart?

Anna - no, there's only room to display one set of parents at a time on a pedigree chart.

It was asked above but I didn't see an answer.....what is the preferred name to use when a child is adopted and you know the biological parent--happened in a divorce so the "real" parent is still in the picture. Who gets the grandchildren? It would seem that in doing genealogy you would use the biological parent as the anscestor line and the child first appears under him. Mother stays the same, she remarries and new husband adopts (name change). I use maiden names to follow my line for women but which name do I use in the line---new or original? and once the daughter marries is she followed under the adoptive name or birth? Birth name doesn't come up when you run a pedigree---in fact the first time she didn't come up

Greetings. I, too, am a big fan of Legacy and have a database of well over 100,000 names of relatives. I will soon be establishing my own web-site containing this data and using Legacy's web-site creation function. I would dearly love to see a couple of things somehow improved, if that were possible. Most significantly, there are two standard facts about a person/marriage that Legacy records, but which do not appear on the person's web-page: "This person never married and had no children." and "This couple had no children." Such important, simple facts! For the first item, ("Never married") when this box is checked for a person, couldn't a "bullet point" be added to the person's web-page that simply makes this statement? And for the second, "This couple had no children." When this box is checked, couldn't a statement such as "They had no children." be added to the text about their marriage on the web-page? "Joe Blow married Jane Sowenso on ... (Jane was born... Jane died...) They had no children." I'm no great programmer, so maybe there are issues here that I don't understand, but it would be nice if this could be done.

Second item. Is there some way to adjust the size of the type used on web-pages? If not, could there be? I have some fairly high resolution monitors and when I view a web-page created by Legacy, the type is so small as to be almost ureadable. I have to dial down the resolution of my monitor all the way to 800x600 to get readable text. Now I realize that when I create my web-site, people with all different monitor settings will be viewing the pages, but can't web pages "sense" the resolution of the monitor they're being viewed on and adjust themselves? It seems like other web-pages do this when I go surfing...
Sorry to take a lot of your time, but I'd really like to see this situation improved, so I hope you'll bear with me. I can see how increasing the size of type for the individual's bullet points and the Family Links could create problems for each other, they are side by side. But text areas, like the General Notes, and the text about the person's marriage(s) are "full width" and could easily be in larger type. Word-wrap seems to happen automatically, so it would just happen in different places in the text. Here's an interesting question: why is the size of type for the Sources larger than for the info itself? It just seems odd.
Thanks for taking the time...

Here's how to get the pedigree view and also the ancestor's reports to display the way you want them to:

In the family view, have the person who is adopted (or otherwise connected) "up." Click on that person's "parent icon" and set the desired set of "parents" to "preferred." The progam will now display that set of parents in pedigree view, and will also yield that set of parents in any report you have for them.

As far as the grandchildren go, they should be displayed in any descendants list of the desired set of grandparents, no matter what the preference settings are, as long as you have the correct set of grandparents set as preferred on their family page entry. If Grandpa has 2 different wives (or vice-versa) you will have to set the correct spouse as Grandma under his spouse icon.

That should work whether step-grandparents, god-parents, half-grandparents, as long as you've linked the descendants via the program in some way.

Hope this helps.


As far as the "correct name" goes, my personal practice is to use the latest name by which a person is known by legally. Just as in a vertical file you place new information in front of old, so here you would use the latest information as the first available when considering this person.

The great thing about Legacy is that you can create your own new names for items in the "Events" section for each person. As a person's name changes you can document your reasons for "having" that person's changed name. Usually marriage is the most common name change, but it is hardly the only one, and if we were to brainstorm, we probably wouldn't get the exhaustive list of why a name might change.

Also extremely valuable in this is the "alias" or "AKA" feature of the program.

Reality is, you can never over-document your knowledge or information. Morphing names are one area where people in the future will greatly thank you for your diligence in documentation!

The one thing you really DO want to avoid is having 2 separate entries for the same person. You simply won't have enough personal memory power to explain your rationale for doing so in days to come. And, double entries really confuse anyone who reads your reports. Now, this is extremely tricky when a person has the same MRCA via 2 different lines (descendants of cousin-marriage, no matter how far removed). And while that is off-subject here, it relates as an illustration of how double entries are not only confusing, they're almost impossible to maintain thoroughly.

Hope this helps


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