Creating ‘family’ in adoption from care

In Tarja Pösö, Marit Skivenes & June Thoburn (eds.), Adoption from Care. International Perspectives on Children’s Rights, Family Preservation and State Intervention. Bristol, Storbritannia: pp. 195-213 (2021)
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Abstract
Adoption may be defined as ‘the legal process through which the state establishes a parental relationship, with all its attendant rights and duties, between a child and a (set of) parent(s) where there exists no previous procreative relationship’ . In adoptions from care, state intervention effectively converts an established, or nascent, adult– child relationship into ‘family’ in the legal sense. From the state’s perspective, adoption thus entails the transfer of parental responsibilities for a child in public care to a private family unit, enabling the state to permanently delegate its duties towards a child to this new unit. This seemingly straightforward legal act raises deeper philosophical questions relating to such state ‘family creation’, particularly when the child’s perspective is taken. Such a child- centric approach normatively regards children as equal moral beings, who ought to be included in actions concerning them, regardless of their capacity to form and express an opinion. Accordingly, adoption from care can be described as a moral decision, aimed at doing what is in the child’s best interests. The purpose of this chapter is to explore a suspicion of a lack of child- centrism in adoption from care practice, and to illustrate how adopted children’s rights are inferior to those of their non- adopted peers. This will shed light on a practice currently lacking transparency and accountability and will increase our understanding of how we fail to treat children as equal moral individuals in decision- making that severely impacts children’s lives.
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