Practical Adoption

When someone says the word “family” there are a multitude of images that might come to mind for various people. This image is then likely pictured or thought about in juxtaposition to the traditional family. In America the traditional family is the nuclear family: a mother, a father and their two children (preferably one girl and one boy separated by two or maybe three years). Beyond this there is an assumption that the mother and father are married. Further still, the daughter and son are their biological children. Of course, this is just one of many types of families. But to makes things simple, working within the model above, how does an adopted child fit into the scenario?

A functionalist anthropologist understands people to have universal biological needs such as nourishment, shelter, “protection and guidance in…early stages” (Malinowski, 89) to name just a few. Malinowski, the founder of functionalism, would then look at how a society has shaped customs and institutions in response to these human needs. All of the institutions, in response to various personal needs, allow for the maintenance of social stasis. Adoption from this perspective is two fold. On one hand it provides an orphaned child with a permanent home and set of parents who will provide them with nourishment, shelter, protection, guidance and much more. They will treat the adopted child just as they would their own biological child. Adoption also keeps children out of orphanages, out of foster homes, and relieves the government of extra, and perhaps not fully planned for, economic responsibility. The state is thus able to remain stable.

From a culture-personality perspective adoption can be viewed as an attempt to meet normative expectations. According to Ruth Benedict in order to understand one’s actions it is essential to examine his or her “congenial responses to the behavior that is singled our in the institutions of his culture” (78). In the United States both men and women, although there seems to be more pressure on women, are expected to want to be parents – it is the normative personality. And those individuals or couples who chose not to have children, for whatever reason, are considered strange and often ostracized from many community gatherings that focus on family activities, etc. How could you possibly not want to be a parent?! Perhaps the couple in question does want to have children, to be parents, but are unable to physically. It is here that adoption allows them to enter the normative personality. Despite infertility, they are able to still have a child. They are able to fulfill their personal wish to be parents and visually show outsiders that they fit the normative expectations.

People choose to adopt for all sorts of reasons. Some are unable to have children themselves; some can have children biologically but chose to adopt regardless. The two perspectives above differ, but both look at adoption in very practical ways. The choice to adopt, however is a heavily emotional and life changing decision.

— Emory H.


Benedict, Ruth. 1934. “The Individual and the Pattern of Culture,” in Patterns of Culture.
Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1939. “The Group and the Individual in Functional Analysis,” in American Journal of Sociology.

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47 Responses to Practical Adoption

  1. Martha Daley says:

    I found your essay very interesting, for it addresses an issue which I feel is on the rise in U.S. society. I think you did a great job of talking about the adoption process from the perspective of the parents adopting, but one could also look at adoption from the perspective of the child with these anthropological theories. Where does a child who has been adopted find a way to fit within society? How to they come to terms with knowing that their parents are not biologically related to them, when a society that places so much value on the traditional family unit will constantly be sending them the message that somehow their adopted parents are not their “real” parents? How does the age of the child when she/he was adopted change her/his relationship with her/his adoptive parents?

  2. Di Morse says:

    I have several adopted friends that have lived their entire lives with their adoptive family. Things can certainly be complex, but each family is different, just like every other family. From what I’ve known of the two friends I know the most about, it just takes adjustment as time goes on. In both cases, they knew who their biological mother was, but neither cares. They both love their adoptive family as if they were biological children. The one problem I have run into, I stepped in last night, actually. My friend (I’ll call him John) and I were in my car. I was talking to him about Male Pattern Baldness, because at our age, it’s something some men start worrying about. I told John that genetically, women are carriers, so the easiest way to tell if you have the gene, to look at your matrilineal grandfather. He said “Well, I don’t know that!” I got really confused, and said, “Well, doesn’t your dad know your mom’s dad?” John said “No, why would he?” At that point I remembered that he wouldn’t know because he was adopted and didn’t know his biological family aside from his mother. So if genetics is ever up for question, that would be difficult to determine without some real history digging.

  3. Maiji Castro says:

    You did a very good job addressing the topic of adoption and why people choose that option in the United States. If there was not a word limit there could have been room for a deeper analysis of how adopted children feel in the United States, as Martha Daley suggested. I am not adopted but my father is Filipino and my mother is Caucasian and I look far more like my father than my mother. We moved around quite a bit when I was in elementary and middle school and the person registering me for school 9 out of 10 times would ask my mother if I was adopted. How people in the United States view children they think are adopted versus biological children who look like their parents is very different across the country. People would constantly ask if I was adopted even though it was none of their business and would it matter if I was? However, people probably just wanted to be able to classify me in order to impose order on their world.

    • lilykoral says:

      This essay brought up a lot of fascinating ideas about adoption and the reasons why people might adopt. However, I agree with Maiji Castro; if it was possible I would have liked to have seen a deeper analysis about the adopted children themselves. Sort of like Maiji’s example, I barely resemble my very arian mother, which brought up questions about whether or not I was adopted. But why is it necessary to classify children as adopted or not adopted? Why does it matter to society? To answer a question like this you could use Structuralism. This is because to a Structuralist the human mind is universally structured and it needs to classify and order things. With this perspective you can look at how societal structures and thought patterns based on adopted children are influenced by kinship patterns and the binary oppositions of appearance between children and their parents.

  4. Hunter Emmons says:

    This article is certainly an interesting perspective to look into. I do have many friends who have been adopted and it is very interesting to see a perspective from culture and personality because many people are definitely judged when it is not their own children but people do not always know the circumstances. If we see parents who are of the same sex and have adopted children, we might see a feminist anthropologist who would look at the gender and the role changes between their family compared to a family with their biological child. A feminine anthropologist would also want to take into consideration the changes within the family and who would hold the most power within the family.

  5. Colleen Godfrey says:

    People who adopt in the U.S don’t only adopt children from the U.S. Many children get adopted from other countries. If you still look at it from a functionalist perspective, adoption could serve a global function. The same functions it served in America apply: the child is provided a safer home and the government the child was a ward of is no longer responsible for them. People like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pit have made adoption of children in need popular and the “right” thing to do. They are the famous couple that is known for their adoptive children and their reasons for adopting. This could also be looked at with culture and personality theory because a society listens to and follows their social leaders, i.e. celebrities. The personality that is now promoted in American culture is that of a philanthropic humanitarian willing to take in children in need.

    • kristoferboguniewicz says:

      I was hoping someone would bring up the phenomenon of celebrities adopting foreign children, thank you. Perhaps it is a trend and phenomenon amongst the rich and elites – or even just the A-list celebrities of Hollywood – and this culture could be examined through culture and personality theory because only this small sub-culture has the means to adopt many children from around the globe. But then again even middle-class and upper middle-class families adopt 2-3 foreign children frequently.

  6. Brianne Hart says:

    This was a great blog essay that I can relate to because my dad was adopted from birth. Looking at adoption from a functionalist and culture and personality aspect was really interesting and I completely agree with them both. But I think it would be interesting to also look at adoption from a structural-functionalism perspective to see how the structure of adoption has changed but it still serves the same purpose. It would be interesting to see this change over time. Since McGranahan said that structural-functionalism is outdated I also think a structuralist perspective could be used to look at the universal patterns in human thought. Using the structuralist perspective one could look at how different societies view adoption and how they structure adoption. Structuralism in kinship would be interesting to look at to see how binary oppositions would effect the relationship between family and adopted child.

  7. I found your essay interesting because it addresses an issue that is becoming more prominent in the United States recently. You did a fantastic job of the perspective of the parents adopting children; possibly include the view of the adopted kids with these theories because their perspective is a huge part of this topic. Looking at how the kids being adopted changes their view of the culture they are being adopted into could fall under the culture-personality perspective. Overall, I enjoyed this essay and thought it was written well.

    • Marshall Walker says:

      Good idea, but I think it would be rather difficult to assess this issue from the child’s standpoint. After all, children do not really make the choice to be adopted, it’s more of a question of necessity. The practice of adoption lies on the parents’ choice to take the child in, therefore that is where an anthropologist should place their interest.

  8. Emma Simpleman says:

    This essay was definitely very interesting and I enjoyed how you talked about adoption through a culture and personality perspective. I also thought that the section about adoption through a functionalist view was extremely well written. I think it would be interesting however, if maybe it was discussed why children are put up for adoption as well, and how that may serve a function to the parents who decide to give up their children.

  9. Alyssa Ferguson says:

    I think that the idea of not having children in our society is becoming more and more accepted. I think that part of this is due to the demands of work and the drive for independence that our generation has been taught. None the less, it is still outside of the norm to not have children. But I think that not wanting to have children is needed to fill the need of people who want children but can’t physically have them. Clearly there are many reasons why parents would put up their children for adoption, but that fact that parents can have a child even if biologically it is not theirs, keeps the society is a sense of equilibrium. I think that these 2 theories fit nicely together.

  10. Dakota Mendrick says:

    I can relate to the culture and personality theory in this essay because it talks about parents being physically unable to have children. It took my mom seven years to finally conceive me through vitro fertilization, also known as test tube babies. At first, my mom thought she was infertile because it seemed as though she couldn’t conceive, but the doctor said she was fertile so they turned to vitro fertilization. If vitro fertilization didn’t work, my parents were going to adopt. I think adoption is a great option for couples that are physically incapable of having kids or just don’t want to go through the pregnancy part. It is a great opportunity for the kids being adopted also because they have a chance at growing up in a loving, caring family.

  11. In analyzing the practice of adoption, culture and personality may also be helpful by discussing the non normative aspect of it. Though the deviation from the nuclear family indicates no moral or ethical deviation what so ever, it can still be viewed as a departure, however small, from the norm. Unlike other non normative aspects of “ideal” society, the decision of a family to adopt or put a child up for adoption is often seen as very meritorious. One could even go so far as so assert that the act of adoption functions as a symbol for the family’s capacity to love despite the absence of the biological bond. Considering the latter half of the essay in relation to the first half, it is plausible to state that the option itself to adopt fits into Functionalism as a means by which to fulfill not only the needs of the children but perhaps even more so the psychological and sociological needs of the parents for parenthood.

  12. Annika Sandberg says:

    I think your essay is very interesting. Adoption is something that is more common than I think a lot of people realize and it’s often overlooked how these children fit into families. I like your analysis through the culture-personality theory because it examines one of the main reasons people choose to adopt and how it still forms a family. I think this is a very thoughtful essay that really gets people thinking.

  13. Allison Dudley says:

    While adoption serves many purposes in society, the adoption system itself is flawed. It is easier to adopt a foreign orphan than it is to adopt children from American orphanages. The standards are high. Through the culture and personality theory it would also be interesting to analyze what a family is expected to be. Adoption is available, but it can take years just to be considered to adopt. If adoption helps our society as Emory argues, then why the strict rules? I think the strict rules are set in place to further the idea of the American family. Single woman? Your file will probably be thrown out the second an adoption agency recieves it. Married couple? You’ve at least got a chance.

  14. Lauren Wahl says:

    One of my best friends is adopted, and his adoptive parents are the best parents to him in the world. I think this essay on adoption is really quite good because it explores this topic from multiple perspectives. Agreeing with Emma’s comment, I would also like to see the topic of adoption explored as to why the parents who chose to give up their children for adoption do, just to get a different perspective. Overall, very well written, 10/10.

  15. Saskia Newkirk says:

    As an individual with a very personal connection to this theme (my sister is adopted from China), I found this essay quite interesting. I would like to take a moment to respond to your interpretation of how adoption would be viewed through the culture and personality perspective. I see a contradiction in this explanation. If the norms of what constitute a family in contemporary America are as you describe them in your introductory paragraph (two kids, married parents, biological children, etc.), then wouldn’t adoption represent a deviation from the “normative expectations” of society, not a means to fulfill them?

  16. Kyle Santi says:

    The normative explanation for adoption makes a lot of sense. Since the dawn of human history, everyone had to have children to keep the population growing. That is not as necessary nowadays, but the urge, both cultural and biological, is still there. Adoption can satisfy those urges. The child gets a home, and the couple get to be parents. It’s win-win. Good article!

  17. coltsedbrook says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog piece. It gave a particular stance that was significantly unique based on the assumptions that you presented. I would have to think that Malinowski would most likely look at this idea of ‘adoption’ based on several key factors I believe is essential in understanding this phenomenon. One, he would most likely look at geographic factors within the United States and conclude that certain families with certain biological or genetic disabilities are the families adopting the children. The second factor would most likely be, where are these children that are being adopted coming from? Are they coming from China, Korea, Africa, or simply Russia. The biggest aspect that I was looking for was the thought of how the government treats these situations when the adoptee country allows children from their nation to come to the United States. But again, that would be a completely different blog. I thought you raised great ideas and concepts regarding adoption in a traditional American family. Also, it is status, not statis.

  18. Erica Blais says:

    Your blog was very interesting and thought-provoking. The theories you used worked very well with the subject of adoption. I wish you had had more than 500 words available for use because I felt that you could have gone into an even deeper analysis of your points. It would be interesting to examine the idea of adoption at a more global level. Looking at the role that adoption plays in other countries around the world could offer a whole new perspective. One could look at the impacts that Americans have on foreign adoption agencies and the perceptions towards adoption in those countries. Policies, procedures, and treatment may be completely different in another country in regards to orphans and adoption. Based on an experience a family friend of mine had, I feel that practice theory could also be applied to this topic. Their adoption process was not as smooth-sailing or glamorous as some celebrities and adoption agencies may make it seem. To this day, nearly 18 years after the adoption, they still face hardships and repercussions. While adoption is an amazing thing if done for the right reasons, the journey is not always as smooth as one may think. It can be a difficult adjustment for not only the child, but also the adopting parents.

    • John Cooper says:

      I feel that practice theory could also be used to extend this question. Does it make if difference if the parents are cable of having a child of their own? I feel as if the reality of infertility would either help the parents to love the clid even more or to resent them because the could never have biologically come from them.

  19. Stephanie Grossart says:

    Adoption is an amazing opportunity for those who wish to have a child and cannot produce one themselves. Many women do not want to adopt because they want that bond that forms between the mother and child while the child is in the womb. Unfortunately some women cannot have children. Being able to take a child out of foster care and give them a better life is a huge deal. Some parents already have children but want to adopt anyway. I see how adoption can make a sterile woman appear normal. However I do not believe that is the main reason as to why women adopt. Whether women want to be parents or not, they should have the option. Yes, women who do not want to have kids appear to be different but I think that is another social structure that just needs time to break down.

  20. Sophia Kolybabiuk says:

    This article was accurate in the sense that a lot of families in America that choose not to have kids, get looked at as “strange” and “untraditional”, and become ostracized from the other family communities. Culture-personality perspective is well connected to this topic by people wanting to adopt to be categorized as “normal”. Even though the ideal family is considered to be biological, the role of culture-personality theory steps into place when traditional ways take a turn with people adopting their children. Adopting is an attempt to meeting normative expectations, the parents still fit the culture norm of having a family, even though adopting their child isn’t biological.

  21. Danielle Maxey says:

    I really enjoyed reading your essay and thought that the theories you used fit the essay. There are so many different types of families but it does seem that many consider the ideal family to be biologically related. People seem to expect that if a couple does adopt, it was because the couple couldn’t have kids biologically, or if the couple could have kids, they had at least one child who was biologically their own before adopting. I particularly liked the use of functionalism and I thought that you explained the idea behind it very well.

  22. Adriana Petersen says:

    I think adoption would be really interesting to look at from the child’s perspective through cultural and personality theory. Often children are adopted from other countries, therefore are raised completely differently then they would have been if they had been raised by their biological parents. the idea of what it means to be a good child varies between cultures and families, therefore I would be curious to see how this affects the adopted child. Do they connect more with the culture they were raised in or the one they are originally from? Does it change based off their age? I have a friend who was adopted from China when she was very young and often questions her adoption. She expresses frustration from feeling so disconnected from her culture and has been trying to become closer to it the older she gets. Although this essay was very interesting, I think a study of the child’s experience might be more informative because they do not have a choice in the matter while the parents are in full control of the situation.

  23. Kelsey Stimson says:

    I think you did a very good job at explaining reasoning behind adoption and the theories you used were thought provoking and intrigued me because it is not the two I would have used. I loved your point on Malinowski because I had forgotten he had said those things about universal needs such as nurturing and shelter. I think your example of how women are expected to have children and want to be a good mother is a little contradictory however because I think that that may have been true and valid 20 years ago, however times are changing and I think the pressure is really on the fathers to step up to the plate of not only supporting the family, but also to be extremely engaged in his children’s lives. I think that your point on how people are expected to reproduce is a very true one; however in my opinion I wish there wasn’t so much pressure for everyone to pro-create. I think that especially with the population rise, people should very much so consider adoption because I think it is a great alternative to having children of your own. There are so many children in need of a good home and not everyone needs to be having 4 or 5 children.

  24. Alyssa Janssen says:

    I thought this essay was very interesting and well thought out. I agree with both your Functionalist and Culture and Personality interpretations, however, I would say that couples who adopt because they are unable to have their own children have a place in both theories. Not only do they adopt to conform to social norms (Culture and Personality) but also to fulfill a need of companionship (Functionalism). While companionship and love are not classified as universal needs by Malinowski, I would definitely argue that they. For couples who cannot conceive their own child, adoption is a practical option to fulfill their longing for meaningful relationships and companionship. This is even more true for single parents (mothers in particular) who adopt. As many others have said, I would be curious to see adoption through the child’s perspective. It would also be interesting to also look at families that have one biological child and one adopted child, or families who have adopted children of different ethnicities.

  25. Christopher Sol says:

    This article explains the theories used very well with the examples from the readings. The topic she chose fit perfectly with the theories and evidence. The parallelism with the reading really made the paper strong and help me understand the reasoning behind each theory much better. Adoption in America isn’t talked about much but is very important and this article shows that. I think adoption will become increasingly more popular in the future and will eventually be praised by our society.

  26. Daniel Greer says:

    While your application of functionalist theory seems spot on, I feel that you could go much deeper with culture and personality. It’s true that adoption allows couples who are unable to conceive naturally a means to parenthood, but is the practice of adoption really the consequence of cultural expectation? I don’t believe so. Reproduction is an essential biological drive in all living species. And though the practices and rituals that surround reproduction may vary cross human cultures, the drive is always there. Seen this way, adoption isn’t an unconscious or otherwise attempt to replicate the normative familial cultural pattern; adoption is a means of fulfilling a basic biological drive. Yes, its practice is in some way culturally determined, but the fact that adoption exists in other cultures that don’t value the nuclear family, suggests that the root of the issue must be deeper. A different way to play with this theory might be to examine the types of personalities that emerge as a result of adoption. How do foster care, temporary homes, and adoption flavor the attitudes and dispositions of children caught up in the system? Just my thoughts. Great paper!

  27. Mateo Hajek says:

    I really enjoyed your essay Emory. I definitely would have loved to see more on the adopted childs perspective, though I understand you were limited by words. I don’t know very much about adoption but I think that looking at both of your scenarios with practice theory would be interesting, especially for those individuals and couples who can have children, yet choose not to. What are their reasons for not having children and what does society or their cultural values have to say about it? Then with interpretive theory, what is the meaning behind all of it?

    Great paper dude.

  28. Sophia Grenier says:

    This essay touched a very personal note with me, and I think it’s wonderful. Your discussion of adoption forces us to think about what actually defines a family, something that I think is often mentioned but not really analyzed and discussed. I am, biologically, an only child. My mother and father had me and that was it; I see myself, however, as the big sister to two younger kids. Sure, we have different parents, but I’ve been in the role of big sister since they were born. For the past 12 years, I’ve been a big sister to them, so regardless of what our parents believe (luckily they agree with the kids and I), my little ones and I adopted each other. Maybe this does have to do with Culture and Personality theory–am I supposed to want younger siblings, am I somehow conforming to what’s expected of me? Maybe or maybe not.

  29. Hayley Dardick says:

    Your paper got me thinking about my own family unit. My mother and father are the biological parents of my twin brother and I. We also have an older sister, she is 34. When I was younger, this age gap wasn’t a big deal, my brother and I always just understood her to be our sister, no explanation needed. I can’t say how old I was when I actually grew to understand it all, but by blood, my sister is technically my half-sister. When my mom divorced her ex-husband, and she met my dad, my sister’s biological father decided he did not want to be a part of my sister’s life. My incredible father then stepped into the dad role and legally adopted her when she was 9. For all intents and purposes he is her father and nothing less. Only after I explain all of this are people satisfied that I could have a “sister” so much older than myself. Recently, this has become very aggravating for me. I grew up with my sister never acknowledging that we didn’t share the same biological father. Because technically by blood she is my half sister, am I supposed to love her half as much as my full-blood brother? No, that would be ridiculous. The degree of technicality in viewing families nowadays seems, in some ways, to be detracting from the love and community that I believe are the most important defining factors of a family in the first place.

  30. Anastasia M. says:

    When my parents divorced, my mother remarried and her new husband, my stepfather, stepped into the father role and fulfilled all of it’s duties for my little brothers. It seemed as though they had the perfect family, with all roles and functions being fulfilled. Perhaps the ideal family does not lie on the specifics in marriage, biological relation and other specifics, but it lies in the functions and outcomes of the roles, and that they are fulfilled. I do have one question though, how does this concept play out in terms of ethnicity and age?

  31. Kitman Gill says:

    This essay was very well done. I like that you examined some very pertinent aspects of adoption. In your essay you use the Culture and Personality school to explain how adopting a child can help a couple who can’t have children fit the cultural norm. You also use the Functionalist approach to explain how people have biological needs that need to be met and how adoptive parents provide this for adoptive children. I think both sets of logic can be applied to the opposite side, in the event that at least one biological parent is alive. Functionalist approach: Did the biological parents give up the child because they knew they couldn’t provide for the child’s needs or because the state determined that they couldn’t? Culture and Personality approach: Did the biological mother give up the child to avoid the label applied to unwed single mothers? Our society is changing, but unwed single mothers are still not the normative behavior. Could children be put up for adoption so that the biological mom can avoid being ostracized? I think it is very interesting that these theories also work in the other direction.

  32. Michaela Quinlan says:

    I thought this essay was a really interesting reflection of an American cultural perspective on adoption, especially in regards to the Culture-personality analysis. Although I do agree with the analysis from the adoptive parent’s side, I would also find it interesting to discuss these theories from the topic of the biological parent who is giving up their child for adoption. From a Functionalist perspective perhaps these people act as an economic stability, or from a broader sense a form of population control. If one parent is giving up his/her child to another family, the new family is less likely to have a child of their own (for whatever reason). Also, from a cultural-personality theory one could analyze the personalities of parents who decide to adopt children versus having biological children, and parents who decide to keep their children versus those who decide to put them up for adoption. Regardless, this topic is extremely thought provoking and comprehensive!

  33. shelly kim says:

    adoption is very interesting but at the same time, a controversial topic in this society. adoption rate tends to increase as more Hollywood stars adopt their children. there is definite goodness in adopting an orphan and taking them under protection of who has money and time to support them but there are side effect on this too. few years ago, i read an article of an american women who sent her adopted son back to where he was from, Russia alone. dissolution of adoption is very harmful to children but some people are just not ready to be a parent or simply cannot give same love they give to their own children. i think adoption is not for everyone and it is very hard decision that lasts you and your adopted kid’s lifetime. things get harder when it’s international adoption because the child will struggle to explain them selves why they have been adopted and accept it. good article overall but needs some work on dark side of adoption.

  34. Brianna Larkin says:

    I liked the way this essay approached the reasoning for adoption. One more way that adoption could fit into the functionalist theory is that it gives a home for children that were from parents that didn’t plan of being pregnant, such as teens, or adults that aren’t quite ready to be parents yet. Going more into detail with the teens, when young teens get pregnant their brains aren’t fully developed or not developed enough to the extent where you and I are, therefore the teens not being cable of thinking of another human, let alone to take care of another human being. That way instead of keeping the baby it can go to a more reliable adult(s) and get the nurture that it needs.

  35. Matt Kiriazis says:

    Adoption is a very interesting topic and I’m glad you chose to write about it. Functionalist theory is a great place to look for anthropological perspective on adoption in American society. In regards to how it suggests the fulfillment of biological needs of a child through a parent, I wonder how well it could tie into or juxtapose practice theory. I think that, in practice, society would operate intending to take care of it’s children whether or not biological ties exist between parent and child, but as your essay points out, there seems to be some sort of idealized depiction of a “proper” family being specially drawn in the terms you’ve put it (biological and marital bonds) as well as being bonded in racial homogeneity.

  36. wesley gordon says:

    you did a great job using adoption and this essay really made people think about their own family structure and how it relates to adoption. I believe that adoption can be a great opportunity for kids to grow up and have a better life. the analysis through the culture-personality theory was fantastic because it examines one of the main reasons people choose to adopt and how it still creates a family.

  37. Drake Williams says:

    I never really thought of adoption as an attempt to fit the norm, but you have made quite the convincing argument. I do believe however, that adoption in fact prevents a family from fitting into what is considered normal. A family that has chosen to adopt has made the conscious decision to take a child, who might otherwise have lived without knowing what a family was, and allow them to experience the love that two (or one) parents can give. There is also the issue that some parents choose to tell their adopted children how they joined the family until later in life, so does this change their status in the norm? Adoption is beneficial to all parties involved, but people’s reasons for adoptions vary so drastically that I think there is a different interpretation for each and every adoptive/adopting family.

  38. A family can adopt for many reasons, however I am not sure that it allows a family to fit into society or not fit into a society. People who have adopted are usually looked at as charitable; making them a valued member of a society. I do not think that any society would look down upon or ostracize a family for making the decision of adoption. I believe that it is practical for a family to adopt; our world is heavily over populated with plenty of children looking for a home.

  39. Alana Spielman says:

    I really enjoyed this essay and the theories you connected it to. I have adopted friends who grew up with a completely normal life and with out being told, you would have no idea. I liked how you discussed culture and personality theory in correlation to adoption. In a world like today when people are expected to grow up and create families of their own, it make sense that choosing not to can be seen as a social taboo. However, now it is more common for women to go to school and attain a stable job before considering the idea of having a family and settling down.

  40. Brianna Dascher says:

    I think your dissection from the culture and personality perspective was so interesting. It does seem as though those uninterested in having children are at minimum looked at as unusual, and at worst, as you said, outcast. In practice, having children is an indicator of stability and maturity, and yet many are completely ill equipped to take care of kids. In reality, those that are adopting have to put in a lot more effort and research to have children – so are far more prepared and and disposed to be parents in a lot of cases.

  41. Stephanie Sanchez says:

    I found this article to be interesting because as a culture to tend to view the family as one set bet yet there can be multiple additions added and made complete. I really liked the way the functionalist perspective was used. The two sides of the argument make it clear and reasonable. It would be interesting to see where a family cannot have a baby and so they decide to adopt and then shortly thereafter they are pregnant with their own biological child. Obviously this is still a family but are there different interpretations? As a question you pose earlier in the essay how would the adopted child fit into this type of family.

  42. Jorge Gomez Herrera says:

    We live in our society where you have meet the expectations, if you don’t meet these expectations you are either consider weird or failure. If you don’t attend college you are automatically considered a failure, people will look at you as, or if you are unable to have kids than that means you are a failure as well. In the other hand you are considered weird if you not to have kids, “everyone’s dream is to have a family.”

    • Teresa says:

      It’s interesting that you brought up societal norms/values as a contributor to the rise of adoption. I wish there were included statistics on who is predominately putting their children up for adoption as well as the main groups doing the adopting. I’m willing to bet older, college aged couples are most likely to adopt while lower income single women are the ones putting their kids up for adoption and I’d like to claim that’s because of those societal norms.
      American culture encourages people to become well-established before starting a family. That’s how you do things “correctly.” Establishment takes time, and during those years of reputation building and title making nature isn’t pausing. So when a couple decides to have a child for the first time possibly well into their thirties it’s harder to conceive. This common predicament may explain the boom of adoption.
      Poststructuralism would be interesting take on the phenomenon by examining all of the omniprescent power plays at work in this scenario.

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