By Fiona Bowie
Adoption is presently topic to loads of media scrutiny. High-profile circumstances of foreign adoption through the web and different unofficial routes, have drawn cognizance to the relative ease with which youngsters should be bought at the worldwide circuit, and feature caused laws which regulates the trade of youngsters inside and among nations. although an absence of study into cross-cultural attitudes to child-rearing, and a much wider lack of knowledge of cultural distinction in adoptive contexts, has intended that the assumptions underlying Western childcare coverage are seldom tested or made explicit.
These articles look at adoption practices from Africa, Oceania, Asia and relevant the USA, together with examples of societies during which kids are usually separated from their organic mom and dad or undergone a number of foster households. exhibiting the variety and adaptability of the child-rearing practices that approximate to the Western time period 'adoption', they show some great benefits of a cross-cultural appreciation of family members existence, and make allowance a broader realizing of the various relationships that exist among young children and adoptive parents.
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Extra resources for Cross-Cultural Approaches to Adoption
Researchers in other societies have also noted the work involved in creating an adoptive relationship and the often gradual process by which 12 Fiona Bowie the family consolidate their status. Halbmayer (Chapter 10) shows how adoption among some Carib-speaking groups in Amazonia does not depend on a formal act of renunciation by birth parents, but a ‘continuously ongoing transfer of rights’ to the parents who feed and raise the child or children. As in other societies, this is an additive rather than a substitutive relationship, based on a notion of multiple parenthood.
It is possible to identify some forms “between” adoption and fosterage in Goody’s sense. Even among the Baatombu I have observed a whole spectrum of different forms of what she would call fostering, which can hardly be subsumed under a single term. As Baatombu foster children always retain the clan name of their biological father, I follow Goody in calling their practices “fosterage”, although the emic meaning seems to me in most cases to be better understood as “adoption”. 4 First I describe the traditional – that means in this context, the old and in many villages still current – practices of child fosterage.
How far can or should a field researcher get involved with the population with whom she/he is working? I had been taught that participant observation meant participating in all kinds of activities but remaining emotionally uncommitted so as not to prejudice the results of one’s findings. I was advised to carefully balance on the edge between objective observation and participation. Yet, I lost my innocence the day my house aid, the wife of my husband’s assistant, was beaten by her husband. I took sides and discussed the matter openly.