Adoption and Fostering

Rachael Stryker

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:
Adoption and Fostering

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Adoption and fostering are any customary or optional procedures for taking as one’s own a child of other parents. The term adoption usually refers to the legal transformation of a child’s familial status, through which individuals permanently assume the major responsibilities of birth parents. The term fostering usually indicates a temporary, mutually agreed upon delegation of the nurturance or educational elements of the parental role, or both. Fostering also more often concerns the process of child rearing and not necessarily the jural (legal) definition of the child’s status or relationships. Adoption and fostering, however, are defined and performed differently depending on the time, location, and societies involved; as such, scholars also sometimes use fosterage to describe substitute parenting arrangements in premodern or non-Western cultures. Childhood studies explore all forms of adoption and fostering: in-country and international adoption, institutionalized foster care, and traditional fosterage systems. It draws primarily from disciplines in the social sciences and humanities that understand adoption and fostering as negotiated practices between children, adults, communities, institutions, and states, practices that are shaped by, among other things, social structures, law, economics, and history. It is important to note that because childhood studies typically approach adoption and fostering as empirical and phenomenological experiences rather than as general or a priori analytic categories, its perspective is often distinct from that of the fields of biomedicine, clinical psychology, law, social work, and public policy.

Article.  20063 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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