Adoption, Foster Care, Socialization: Work in Progress??

Fri, 28 Jan 1994 08:57:10 CST

My wife and I are beginning to form some ideas for a long term research
program addressing the concerns of socialization and enculturation in the
children who have been long term participants in the foster care programs
of several states. The principal observation we are beginning with is that
by the nature of the legal processes surrounding separation of a child from
the child's natal family, there is seldom an adult figure to impart
significant social and cultural information to a child between the
ages of 3 and 10. We suspect that this makes the importance of 'child
culture' much higher than the norm and are going to consider the possibility
that children who are survivors of the system have acquired a unique
set of attitudes, behaviors, and expectations (culture, if you will)
that consitutes a distinct subculture.

Furthermore, we want to consider the sociobiological principal guiding
social work that 'bonding' between mother and child is
strong enough that separation is a severe trauma requiring years of
counselling and therapy to overcome. For this, we would appreciate any
information any of you may have about the problems and solutions of
alloparental care in other societies, especially non-industrial societies.
The concern would be how children are assigned to alternative parents, the
approach the new parents take to dealing with the separation issues of the
child, and the success of the child in the culture as an adult.

I am writing this entirely too early in the morning, and so if you can
get the drift, and have any ideas, I would appreciate hearing them.

David T. Hughes
Wichita State Universtiy
Dept. of Anthropology
Wichita, Kansas 67260-00552