Narratives of contradiction - an analysis of adoption policy and practice in India

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Narratives take shape in a dialogical relation to culturally mediated narrative models of sense-making, which are inextricably entangled in power relations (Meretoja, 2020). It is reflected in the policy statements, which we don’t usually view as literature. But most definitions of policy problems have a narrative structure that tells something about dominant discourses within a society, often repeated by powerful actors. It is evident that the power of narratives is influential in shaping beliefs, public opinions, and ultimately governmental actions. This paper presents the finding of empirical research on adoption policy and practice in the context of India. The findings illuminate how the revised policy narrative is an attempt to impose rigid procedural changes to promote adoption as a statutory program to get more children adopted in India by Indian parents while avoiding the attention to the structural problems that pushed children to institutional care. With the narratives of transparency and accountability, the policy has created a mechanical process that has little space for the professional discretion of social workers. Additionally, it has created a distance between adoptive parents and practitioners, rather than space for meaningful engagement.

With the sharp increase in prospective parents, declining rates of adoption, and rising adoption disruption, the reformation of the policy with a ‘happy family’ narrative is questionable. The research suggests that the policy narrative has a strategic function that directs who can author the adoptive family lives prescribed, and whose narratives should dominate in adoptive family formation in the changing social, political and cultural times. In the Indian context of competing and contrasting narratives, adopted people, parents and practitioners are conditioned to ‘doing’ the adoptive family in a way they are being told to, and not in ways of their own choosing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventNarrative Matters 2023 - Tampere, Finland
Duration: 15 Jun 202317 Jun 2023


ConferenceNarrative Matters 2023
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