Redefining family relationships following adoption: adoptive parents' perspectives on the changing nature of kinship between adoptees and birth relatives

Christine Jones, Simon Hackett

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    Contemporary child adoption in the UK and USA has been conceptualised as an extended kinship network of adopted children, birth relatives and adopters (Reitz and Watson, 1992; Grotevant and McRoy, 1998). This contrasts sharply with the traditional model of adoption as a form of family substitution. Yet, such a reconceptualisation raises many questions about the meaning of kinship for those involved. This paper draws on data from a series of biographical interviews with twenty-two parents who adopted children within the UK over a twenty-four-year period in order to explore post adoption 'family relationships' from the perspective of adoptive parents. It develops an analysis of definitions of 'kinship' created by adoptive parents in order to shape family relationships following adoption, particularly the processes through which birth relatives are rendered marginal or integral to adoptive family life. The relevance of current adoption policy and professional practices to these processes are explored.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-299
    Number of pages17
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Issue number2
    Early online date10 May 2011
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


    • adoption
    • family relationships
    • kinship
    • child adoption

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