Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Why adoption is not an option in India: the visibility of infertility, the secrecy of donor insemination, and other cultural complexities


Author Info

  • Bharadwaj, Aditya
Registered author(s):


    Child adoption in the face of reproduction gone awry continues to remain an under researched aspect of contemporary Indian reality. This paper seeks to unpack some of the critical cultural issues underscoring the deep-seated reluctance towards adoption. Drawing on a larger multi-sited research project examining the experience of infertility and assisted conception in India, the paper sheds light on the state of current adoption practices in India. Thus, when faced with infertility, couples in this research emerged as favouring secret gamete donation as a means of bypassing infertility rather than the option of adoption. Invoking the concept of systematic misrecognition, the paper situates the modalities of salvaging infertility, either through medically assisted conception or adoption, as structuring infertile people's quest for children. The paper relates the perceived stigma associated with infertility treatment and adoption with the inclusion of a "third party" that fractures the culturally conceptualized boundaries of family as inextricably tied to the conjugal bond. It is therefore argued that secrecy is born out of a need to obfuscate a "public and visible" violation of a culturally priced ideal that views an intimate connection between the "married body" and the progeny. Adoption continues to remain an undesirable option because the links between an adopted child and the social parent become a public, vocal, and visible admission of infertility that cannot be subsumed, like donated gamete conception, under a conspiracy of silence.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 56 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 9 (May)
    Pages: 1867-1880

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:9:p:1867-1880

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Order Information:

    Related research

    Keywords: Infertility Donor insemination Adoption Son preference Culture India;


    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Hampshire, Katherine R. & Blell, Mwenza T. & Simpson, Bob, 2012. "‘Everybody is moving on’: Infertility, relationality and the aesthetics of family among British-Pakistani Muslims," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1045-1052.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:9:p:1867-1880. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.