Chapter

Epilogue: Reckoning with Risk

in Kinship by Design

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780226327594
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226328072 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226328072.003.0010
Epilogue: Reckoning with Risk

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Adoption today is considered a “risk factor” that places children and birth parents “at risk” for a variety of problems. Throughout modern adoption history, the conviction that adoptive families were different, fragile, and prone to difficulty was the chief rationale for all the managerial, investigatory, and helping operations that transformed strangers into kin. Since the early twentieth century, demands that the state act to protect vulnerable members of the public from harm have turned adoption into a major social problem. The history of modern adoption is the history of efforts to solve that problem by coming to terms with risk. This is the project called kinship by design. This book has emphasized those institutions and individuals who believed that rationalizing family making was the best approach to risk in adoption. Their campaign to improve adoptive family making was inextricably bound up with the professionalization of services to children and families, the philosophy of therapeutic government, and the institutional consolidation of the welfare state during the Progressive era, the New Deal, and World War II. Kinship by design was imbued with a managerial sensibility that relied on regulation, interpretation, standardization, and naturalization. These methods promised to minimize risk.

Keywords: adoption; risk management; kinship by design; adoptive family making

Chapter.  6478 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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