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Names and naming in adoption: Birth heritage and family-making

Pilcher, Jane, Hooley, Zara and Coffey, Amanda ORCID: 2020. Names and naming in adoption: Birth heritage and family-making. Child and Family Social Work 25 (3) , pp. 568-575. 10.1111/cfs.12728

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In this article, we consider the significance and practices of names and naming in adoption to develop understanding of the issue amongst scholars, policymakers, adoption practitioners, and adoption communities. Research on the topic of names and adoption is scarce and focused mostly on international and domestic adoptions in the United States. We draw on the research literature to critically explore names and naming in adoption through two recurrent and related themes. The first is “birth heritage,” where names, forenames especially, are shown to be important in the approach taken by adopters to their child's birth family and cultural identity. The second theme is “family‐making,” where namesaking and homogeneity of surname emerge, amongst others, as strategies to create, sustain, and display “family.” In gathering together for the first time an otherwise scattered, disparate body of research, our article showcases names and naming as illuminating distillations of key contemporary challenges experienced by families formed through adoption. We conclude our article by considering emergent gaps in existing knowledge and understanding about names, naming, and adoption that might usefully be addressed, to inform professional advice and familial decisions about names, and enhance outcomes for adoptees and their families.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1356-7500
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 January 2020
Date of Acceptance: 14 December 2019
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 18:45

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