This thesis looks into several aspects of the adoption of the unrelated child in Delhi. The adoption practice that I here describe is the domestic practice within India, more specifically in Delhi. From September 2002 to March 2003 and again in February 2004 I conducted filedwork in an NGO that places abandoned, destitute or orphaned children in adoption.
I have divided this thesis into two parts. The first part discusses the prospective adoptive parents expectation regarding the child and the act of adoption, as well as the role of the social worker in the adoption process. In the process of unrelated adoption in Delhi, it is in my view fruitful to understand the social worker in relation to Foucault s concept of governmentality and Rose s psy expertise. The social worker attempts to place every child in the NGO s care according to the UN resolution on the Rights of the Child, hence
the best interest of the child is her ultimate aim.
However, the social worker must not only relate to international conventions and discourses when placing children in adoption, she must also take into account her own society s social and cultural norms and values. There are several stigmas attached to the practice of adopting an unrelated child, concerned with the child s background as well as the infertility or childlessness of the adoptive parents. Childless marriages are by many considered unfortunate and the wife is seen as inauspicious. It is furthermore understood
that her bad luck may be transmitted to others.
The second part looks into the incorporation of the child into the adoptive family. I describe this process in terms of Howell s concept of kinning. In order to describe the process of kinning I relate how the families avoid relating to the child s unknown background by seeing both the act of adoption and their own infertility as predetermined. In order to understand how the process of kinning commences when issues of background and persons nature are important, I utilise Marriott s concept of substance-code. I find
substance-code a good analytical tool in order to investigate kinning and how inter-personal relationships between the adoptive parents and adoptee may begin. Here I do not look into what happens to the individual person, but how the child becomes a part of the childless couple s family.