Friday, February 17, 2012

Adoption: It's nothing new......

Adoption. It's nothing new...

Recently my husband and I began the process of trying to adopt a child from Haiti. International adoption can be daunting as it means alot of paperwork and waiting. As I begin this wonderful journey towards added a child to our family I thought about the all times in history when a child or an adult was adopted from one culture into another. Cultures worldwide have instituted adoption in one form or another. It's nothing new at all.

Adoption has been around probably since the dawn of mankind. It is an ancient process that is spoken of in the bible. Ancient Greek, Ancient Rome, Mesopotamia and Egypt all had adoption procedures. The first written code for adoption had been during the riegn of King Hammurabi of Babylonia of 18th century BC. Paragaraphs 185 through 193 of the Code Law of Hammurabi clearly explicitly deal with adoption. Here is the law:

185. If a man adopt a child and to his name as son, and rear him, this grown son can not be demanded back again.
186. If a man adopt a son, and if after he has taken him he injure his foster father and mother, then this adopted son shall return to his father's house.
187. The son of a paramour in the palace service, or of a prostitute, can not be demanded back.
188. If an artizan has undertaken to rear a child and teaches him his craft, he can not be demanded back.
189. If he has not taught him his craft, this adopted son may return to his father's house.
190. If a man does not maintain a child that he has adopted as a son and reared with his other children, then his adopted son may return to his father's house.
191. If a man, who had adopted a son and reared him, founded a household, and had children, wish to put this adopted son out, then this son shall not simply go his way. His adoptive father shall give him of his wealth one-third of a child's portion, and then he may go. He shall not give him of the field, garden, and house.
192. If a son of a paramour or a prostitute say to his adoptive father or mother: "You are not my father, or my mother," his tongue shall be cut off.
193. If the son of a paramour or a prostitute desire his father's house, and desert his adoptive father and adoptive mother, and goes to his father's house, then shall his eye be put out.

According to Greek legend, Alexander the Great's father was Zeus. Zeus had impregnated Olympias before her marriage to King Philip II of Macedon. After Alexander's birth in 356 B.C., King Philip II claimed Alexander as his son. The 1st emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus, had been adopted by his great uncle via last will and testament in 44B.C. Augustus is better known by his birth name Octavius, the young man who went to war against Cleopatra and Mark Anthony before he became emperor. Later in his life, Augustus adopted four children. Unlike modern adoptions, the main reason to adopt a child was for the benefit of the person who was adopting and not the child. In ancient Rome, it was so vital for the upperclass to have a male heir that couples without sons would adopt boys or men. Adoption, although it happened, was rare in the ancient world. The majority of orphans and abandoned children became slaves. 

After the fall of Rome, the fate of orphans and abandoned children became more dismal. More concerned about bloodlines and legitimacy, the monarchs of medieval age Europe either outlawed adoption entirely or made the requirements so hard to fulfill it was hopeless. Despite the aversions, some adoptions did continue through personal contracts. These contracts, focused on the responsibilities the adopted child would have instead of the child's welfare. It was not uncommon for the contracts to state the child had to care for the parents in their old age. While some children found new homes under private adoptions, Europe still faced a problem with orphaned and abandoned children. The majority of these children often found themselves upon the doorstep of the Catholic Church. If a child was fortunate to have found themselves there, they would immediately be immediately adopted by the church. Under the church's guidance, the children were raised in a monastery. Within the confides of the monastary, the children were given an education and trained in a trade. As the population of abandoned and orphand grew, the church began to systematically devise an instuition to care for these children. Hospitals and orpanges were created by the church throughout Europe. It was the first time in history where abandoned children were without social, moral or physical disadvantage.

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