Adoption of children born by others is practiced in some form or another in all known societies. Although ethnographic monographs from all over the world have made numerous brief references to local adoption and/or fostering practices, very little sustained interpretative interest has, until recently, been directed at this social phenomenon. With the sudden and rapid increase in transnational adoption—people in Western Europe and North America adopt children from countries in the south and the former Soviet empire—a new-found anthropological interest in adoption has been observed. This review places adoption firmly within the tradition of theoretical kinship and explores the values attached to a perceived relationship between biological and social relatedness in a number of different social settings in which adoption is being practiced.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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