Between Ethics and Desire: The ‘Torment’ of Becoming Parent in the Everyday Life of Intercountry Adoptive Families in Italy

Rossana DiSilvio


The domestic domain is considered to be, because of its own nature, the favoured realm of the ethics expression in everyday relationships. This rooted vision seems to concern the relations between parents and children in particular. But what happens when the parenting relation is lived an practiced with strangers? As many social studies highlighted, during the last three decades a wide diffusion of intercountry adoptions occurred in Western countries, where the adoptive family is established by law as being on the same level as the biological family. Italy is considered one of the Western countries with the highest number of arrivals of adopted children, in a social scenario marked by a deep transformation of the domestic domain. Based on a two years’ ethnographic research on Italian adoptive families, my paper aims at highlighting a particular ethical side of the process of adoptive kinning, which is often not investigated in detail. In fact, on the one hand infertile couples seem to be particularly sensitive towards the rhetoric of international discourses as well as of the media iconography, which solicit that ethical personal responsibility necessary to take care of a child considered to be unlucky because 'orphan', ill and born in the so-called Third or Second World. On the other hand, the concrete action of 'taking the child, bringing him/her away' and removing all his/her previous ties (as established by international adoptive devices), seems to urge new parents 'to perceive themselves as thieves', as someone stealing the child from his/her family and country of origin. The effects of this double-sided ethics act deeply in the everyday life of adoptive families, particularly in the process of internal legitimation, whose outcome is crucial for the success of a “good” adoptive parenting.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n8p280

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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