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Adoption - Legal Consequences And Availability

family parent biological adoptive adoptee

Two standard models of adoption exist. In one model, found in Anglo-American jurisprudence and other legal systems, the effect of adoption is that the biological parent's rights and duties end with respect to the adoptee (Cretney and Masson 1997). These rights and duties are acquired by the adoptive parents (Hampton 2000). Thus, the biological parents cease to owe the adoptee a duty of support, and this duty is imposed on the adoptive parents. Similarly, normally the adoptee loses the right to inherit from a biological parent who dies leaving no will, but acquires such a right to inherit from the adoptive parent. In the second model, a complete severance of the legal relationship between the adoptee and his or her biological parent does not occur. Instead, as in Turkey (Örücü 1999), the adoptee acquires some rights and duties with respect to the adoptive parent, but retains others with respect to a biological parent.

In some countries, both models may co-exist. This occurs notably in Europe, as in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bubic 1998) and Portugal (De Oliveira and Cid 1998), and in those countries whose legal traditions flow from Europe, as in Argentina (Grosman 1998), Colombia, and other countries in Central and South America (Monroy 1998). The model used in any given adoption may depend on the purpose behind the adoption or the circumstances of the adoptive and biological parents and the adoptee. For example, in Scotland (Sutherland 1997), when a biological parent remarries and the adoption is by the stepparent, the legal relationship with the other biological parent may not terminate completely even though a legal relationship with the adoptive parent is established. This approach is often followed in the United States (Hampton 2000). Thus, the adoptee may be entitled to support from both the biological parents and the adoptive parent. Similarly, the adoptee may be entitled to inherit from both the adoptive parent and perhaps his or her relatives, as well as from the biological parents and their relatives.

Islamic jurisprudence generally does not permit formal adoption. However, some Islamic countries such as Somalia and Tunisia permit adoption. Adoption is also possible in some circumstances among Muslims in South Asia (Pearl and Menski 1998).

In some countries, the applicable family law rules may be determined by factors such as the individual's citizenship, clan membership, or religion. Accordingly, in a given country, adoption rules may vary with the individuals involved, and indeed, may not be available to some individuals at all. Thus, in India, the availability of adoption is controlled by an individual's religion. Statute permits adoption among a broadly defined group of Hindus. The law, however, does not apply to those who are Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew by religion (Pant 1994). Ordinarily, these individuals cannot formally adopt a child, although some of the objectives of adoption can be achieved using the laws of guardianship or the rules regulating the distribution of property by will (Manooja 1993).


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