Daniel A. Foss (U28550@UICVM.BITNET)
Tue, 12 Jul 1994 11:29:10 CDT

I was impressed with Andrew Canessa's thoughtful post on interethnic adoption.
I would add one thing for consideration--an ethnographic problem. To what
extent is adoption and/or fosterage practiced in the community from which the
child comes? If you're out there doing a household census, then it should be
a matter of course to find out how many children in a household (or compound
of households) were born in that household vs. how many were there from other
households or compounds. From these data arise a set of questions about why
children born to parents not in the household are there. Answering these
questions gives one a set of principles that shape the flow of children
among households and families. Pacific researchers have found that Micronesian
and Polynesian adoption rates vary from 25% to 92% of all children in given
communities. People adopt children, even when they have their own, for all
kinds of reasons. People let their children be adopted by others, including
people from other communities, for all kinds of reasons. In the community I
worked with, several children have been adopted by Americans (as well as by
Pohnpeians, Nukuoro, and people from Sapwafihk). Each case depends upon the
relationship between the adopters and the natural parents--but this is also
the case with intracommunity adoptions. One incentive for people to let their
children be adopted by Americans is not only that the kid will have career
advantages, but that the kid's relationship with the adoptees and the
natural parents gives a continuing link with those Americans that may afford
other family members an opportunity in the U. S.. Taking the kid out of the
culture is not a consideration for anyone in the community I worked with.
So I think that the issue of taking the kid out of the culture may or may not
be a critical one depending on the community and its expectations of who has
what rights over children.
Mike Lieber