This question is asked of me often by people who were not raised by one or both of their biological parents. Family relationships can become complicated when accompanied by divorce, death or abandonment. So, I am going to answer this question for you as I do with all who ask. I want you to remember it is my opinion and you can use it or not. You decide.
The lineage you follow will depend on the circumstances surrounding your birth and growing up years.
First of all, I believe you should follow your legal lineage. Whoever your legal parents are, they are your legal lineage.
After that there are many variables. Let’s discuss the most common variables one by one.
Adoption at birth by a mother and father who are not your biological parents – You would follow their lineage as your own.
Adoption because of death of biological parents – You would follow your adoptive parents lineage for they raised you as their own. You would also follow your biological parents because they would have raised you if they would not have died. It leaves you with two loyalties and they don’t have to be in conflict with each other. Genealogical computer programs have the ability to attach all parents to a person.
Raised by a relative without the adoption process – You may choose to follow both lineages or just one. The determining factor in these decisions is whether your biological parents chose to not raise you or if they didn’t have a choice.
The other variations are just branches of one or more of the above three scenarios. I believe the key is to find out what your head and heart tell you.
When I am working on an ancestor and this is the circumstance in their life, I usually follow the biological line. I do consider the circumstances and they frequently fall under one of the scenarios referenced above.
Find the story behind your ancestors parentage, visit with extended family and you’ll be able to come to a consensus on how to record the parents.