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

Listed author(s):
  • Bharadwaj, Aditya
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    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.

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

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

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:9:p:1867-1880
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