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The issue of identifying one's origins has appeared or resurfaced in social and political debates for several decades, as ways of procreating and living in families have diversified. The concept of origins appears to be subject to multiple interpretations, narratives and practices. For those abandoned or adopted, as for those conceived through the involvement of third parties, whether via egg or sperm donation or surrogacy, the search for "personal origins" sometimes leads to lengthy identity quests. One's origins can also remain secret, be denied or be considered unimportant. In the end, they are embodied in different narratives intended for the children of adoptive families, or for those who owe their existence to egg or sperm donation or surrogacy.

Whatever its uses, the notion of origins runs through personal and family histories, providing a new perspective on our concepts of kinship and identity, and a notably heuristic starting point for analyzing current family configurations. The connection with origins is at the heart of recent developments and new practices in adoption at home or internationally. In families with members conceived with the help of a third party, it raises questions about the role of those who donated their eggs or sperm or of the woman who carried a child for another person. It also has an impact on the composition of the parental couple and the family network of children adopted or born from assisted reproduction.

In adoptive families and families created through egg/sperm donation or surrogacy, these configurations increase the number of persons involved in the conception or education of a child, thus ushering in a novel plurality of relations ( Fine, 2001; Martial, 2019 ). Fathers and mothers (biological, adoptive, intentional), "birth" parents, genitor, donor, and surrogate are thus distinguished, contrasted or confused, in common language as well as among specialists, in an attempt to describe increasingly complex family links ( Brunet et al., 2013 ). The notion of "multi-parenting" thus makes it possible to explore the many dimensions of relationships among people: biogenetics, voluntary and elective acts, and the affective, nourishing and "practical" experience of kinship, as well as its symbolic and legal aspects (Martial, 2003; Weber, 2013).

Relationships associated with origins then appear to be ties that are quite unique. Since they originate in a procreative event, they are based on "nature," considered the most powerful metaphor for kinship in our societies (Schneider, 1968). However, they are not generally rooted in any emotional or daily experience of kinship and, if identified, are not legally recognized in terms of filiation or rights to personal relationships. They are also virtual, potentially but not necessarily usable to define identity, since the quest for origins is only undertaken or claimed by some of the people concerned. Moreover, the origin stories told to children conceived by donor/sperm donation or by surrogacy take very diverse forms.

Along with filiation, a legal bond that includes the child in a kinship group, and parenthood as a way of acting and taking care of the child, the notion of origin invites us to question the existence of relationships that may be added to a child's parentage by one or more persons other than their father(s) and mother(s) taking part in their procreation (Martial, 2019). How do institutions deal with these relationships? How are they treated in social and medical practices? How are they perceived by people who were adopted or born of donation or surrogacy, and to what discourses, narratives and practices do they give rise in the families concerned?

To answer these questions, articles from various disciplines have been aggregated in this issue, including anthropology, sociology, social work, psychology and law. A number of methodological approaches are presented: an analysis of legal systems; a study of institutional practices –­ administrative, social and medical –­ and of the elements (administrative files, interactions on socio-digital networks, genetic tests) which support the determination of parentage; and the exploration, in families, of the representations, significance and lived experience of the concept of origins. The comparison focuses on Quebec and France, two countries where this issue is particularly topical due to recent or ongoing legislative changes, but a study of other cultural, legal or national contexts would allow for a broader comparative approach.

Toward increasing access to discovering one's origins: from the easing of institutional secrecy to digital quest

In the last decades of the 20th century, access to information about personal origins, an issue raised by various activist movements, entered the social and political debates of many European and North American countries. This occurred in two areas: first, in adoption, and then twenty years later, in assisted reproduction with third-party donors. Since the early 2000s, several developments have led to an appreciation and growing recognition that persons who were either adopted or born through donation have access to information about their personal origins.

The regulation of the relationship to origins in adoptive situations

From an anthropological perspective, adoption brings to light the exclusivity principle of filiation in contemporary Western societies ( Fine, 1998; Ouellette, 2000; Fonseca, 2011 ). The full adoption model first established in North America and then in Europe during the 20th century effectively replaced the child's links to their origins with those connecting them to their adoptive parents. Adoption records were kept confidential and the identity of "birth parents" was secret (Modell, 1994; Fine, 2000). However, by the 21st century, this was no longer standard practice in Europ e. Germany and Switzerland considered access to information about one's origins to be guaranteed by the constitution. In 1975, Great Britain allowed adoptees who had reached their age of majority to obtain a copy of their birth certificate containing the names of their birth parents. In Belgium, the original birth certificate is simply amended by a note in the margins that refers to the adoption, and since 2003, the law stipulates that the appropriate authorities must maintain and ensure the child’s access to information about their origins. Since 1999, Spain has considered article 47 of the Civil Status Law, which allowed anonymous childbirth, unconstitutional. On the other hand, anonymous childbirth still exists in Italy, Luxembourg, as well as in France (Mignot, 2015a), where the existence of "birth under X" gave rise to heated debates in the 1990s.

By the end of the 20th century, this legislation was challenged on several fronts: as demands presented by abandoned or adopted persons, as well as by birth parents hoping to make their identity known; [1] the public's growing awareness of psychological and psychoanalytical studies emphasizing the importance of origins in the creation of one’s identity and the psychological well-being of an individual; the recognition, in supranational conventions, of the individual's right to access this knowledge. [2] Concerning the " births under X, " intense discussions in France pit the right of children to know their personal origins against the right of women to make their own decisions about their maternity. This debate ultimately led to the creation of the National Council for Access to Personal Origins ( Conseil national pour l’accès aux origines personnelles, CNAOP ). It is a compromise between accommodating women who gave birth secretly and allowing the child to eventually seek information, as well as following up on requests for access to personal origins, which remain subject to the consent of the "birth mothers." In their article, lawyers Laurence Brunet and Michelle Giroux explain in detail the terms and conditions and how they work (see, for example, Ensellem, 2004; Lefaucheur, 2001 et 2006; Le Boursicot, 2008), while comparing these provisions to those in Quebec. Although anonymous childbirth does not exist in the Quebec system, a balance is sought between the rights of adoptees and of birth parents, in a context where the confidentiality of adoption records was only removed in 2017 by Bill 113, which permits access to the birth parents' personal data, provided that they give their consent.

In France, as in Quebec, research in the social sciences has not yet shed much light on the impact of these legal changes on institutional practices or on the personal experience of connecting with one’s origins. Sébastien Roux studies the rhetoric of adoption professionals regarding "birth mothers" (2015) and how children's parentage is racially categorized (2017a). Basing her study on the records of abandoned children in the care of child welfare ( Aide sociale à l'enfance ), Agnès Martial (2020) describes unprecedented institutional practices of conservation, fabrication and promulgation of the vestiges of a pre-adoptive history, reflecting both the value attributed to the child's origins and the associated discontinuities in the narratives and relationships they can create.

The surge in international adoption since the 1980s has also redefined the scope and contours of the concept of origins for adoptees. Formulated according to Euro-American legal conventions, international adoption establishes a genealogical link between the child and their adoptive parents following a complete severance of the birth relationships (Howell, 2006). However, the right to know one's origins was affirmed by The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. [3] A child's right to information about their identity is fundamental to their well-being and inseparable from access to information about their birth parents, as well as about their cultural, religious, ethnic, and national origins (Yngvesson, 2010). At the same time, maintaining connections with one's origins has become a constitutive dimension of "good" adoptive parenting, where parents collect and preserve information for the child, familiarize the child with their "culture" of origin and organize return trips to their country of birth (Howell, 2006).

What makes the issue of origins in international adoption unique is the role played by states in a geopolitical context where the movement of children is subject to the uncertainties of internal crises and armed conflict, as well as diplomatic balance (Marre et Briggs, 2009; Denéchère, 2011). This stability has been affected by the decline in the number of international adoptions linked to various "structural, demographic and economic" developments in the donor countries (Mignot, 2015b : 3), as well as to the principle of preferential retention of the child in their country of birth instituted by The Hague Convention. [4] In this new situation, countries of origin are making increasing demands on the profiles of international adoption candidates and persist in maintaining various forms of contact with the children they put up for adoption, either through regular reports to ensure access to future adoptions, or by the child’s access to citizenship of their country of birth (Ouellette et Saint Pierre, 2011). Some countries, South Korea being the most emblematic example, have developed a policy of welcoming and symbolically reintegrating their adoptees, who are considered representatives of their nation of origin in a global context (Prébin, 2006). Because adoption transcends the "blood" borders of both parentage and nation, transnational adoption results in diverse forms of belonging. This in turn gives rise to various types of movement ­– of information, people, goods and services –­ to and from the countries of origin, and of acceptance in a globalized context (Kim, 2007).

The article by Simonella Tanguy sheds light on Benin's inclusion in the current list of "countries of origin" and its recent ratification of The Hague Convention. Adoption, which became legal in Benin in 2004, is associated in different ways with local practices involving the movement of children within the family. Binationals residing outside of Benin can adopt the child of a spouse, nephew or niece, in a spirit of community solidarity that does not break the child's bonds with their birth parents. However, the ratification of The Hague Convention introduced a new definition of an adoptable child, one "abandoned or orphaned." This is not in line with Beninese concepts, which are rooted in traditional fostering practices in which the child never really leaves their family of origin. This adoption model also raises the question of state collection and retention of information regarding the conditions of children's births (Roux, 2017b). Ultimately, the article questions the status of "country of origin," in a context where the international movement of children often links donor countries to former colonial powers. Adoption is sometimes denounced as representing a new imperialism, especially when there is concern that children will grow up in same-sex families. The rejection of these potential adoptive families, judged not to conform with Beninese social norms and cultural values, reinforces the idea that children belong to their country of birth.

Assisted reproduction: the evolution of laws concerning personal origins

A similar evolution is taking place with assisted reproduction: the egg/sperm donor anonymity principle is gradually being replaced by systems that allow groups of donor-conceived individuals to find out in adulthood the identity of the people who contributed to their conception or birth. This evolution is due to the demands of donor-conceived [5] individuals, the emergence of a new ethical imperative of "transparency" in relation to genetic data on children's history (Nordvisqt, 2014), and to a gradual rejection of the " Neither Seen Nor Known " model that associates anonymity with family secrecy about using donors (Théry, 2010). This model is also inappropriate for same-sex families, where donation is a given and thus inevitably the subject of different narratives (Côté et Lavoie, 2020).

A number of countries have amended their laws to end or limit anonymity. These include Sweden (1984), Switzerland (1998), Austria (1992), Iceland (in two stages since 1996), the State of Victoria in Australia (1995), Norway (2003), the Netherlands (in two stages in 2002, then abolishing anonymity in 2004), New Zealand (2004), the United Kingdom (2005), Finland (in two stages, then abolishing anonymity in 2006), and Belgium (in two stages since 2007) (Théry et Leroyer, 2014). Spain and Italy currently maintain donor anonymity, while in France, the Bioethics Bill adopted on July 31, 2020, by the National Assembly aims to extend access to medically assisted reproduction (MAR) to female couples and single women and to abolish egg/sperm donor anonymity. The ongoing legislative process should allow donor-conceived people to have access to non-identifying data or to the donor’s identity when they reach the age of majority and if they so desire. At this point in time, all new donors are required to consent to the disclosure of this data prior to the donation. Persons born before the passage of the bill will also be able to apply: based on an adoption model similar to that of France’s National Council for Access to Personal Origins (CNAOP), the contacted donor will be free to disclose or retain non-identifying data or to reveal their identity.

In Canada, there are several options for couples or single individuals who wish to use egg/sperm donors to realize their plan for parenthood. It is possible to use an anonymous or open-identity donor, i.e. a person who accepts that their identifying information may be disclosed. It is also possible to obtain assistance from a donor from the social circle of the couple or of the recipient. Although these various arrangements coexist in the Canada-wide context, they are not subject to national regulation. A challenge to the 2004 federal law made provinces responsible for legislating the issue, something none of them has done to date (Gruben et Cameron, 2017; Kelly, 2017). The available options are therefore left at the discretion of those who use egg/sperm donors for their parental plan (Czarnowski, 2020; Gruben et Cameron, 2017). In Quebec, the Advisory Committee on Family Law (2015) nevertheless recommended abolishing the anonymity of egg/sperm donors, considering the right to know one's origins to be in the best interests of the child.

Several laws around the world have addressed the issue of regulating gestational surrogacy by formulating responses that range from formal prohibition to regulatory oversight, through the recognition of a contractual agreement, or even being laissez-faire (Pennings et al., 2016). Different forms of regulation can coexist in the same country. Some countries such as France, Germany and Spain prohibit all types of gestational surrogacy (Brunet et al., 2013). Yet, as the anthropologist Jérôme Courduriès (2018) illustrates in the case of France, prohibiting surrogacy is not without consequences for parents and their children, since filiation with the non-biological parent cannot be established when issuing international birth certificates.

In Canada, surrogacy is at the crossroads of federal and provincial jurisdictions, resulting in a "kaleidoscope of legal phenomena" (Saris, 2016) . As in France, a woman who gives birth in Quebec is recognized as the mother of the child. The birth certificate is thus combined with the declaration of birth, which must be sent to the Registrar of Civil Status no later than 30 days after the birth of the child in order to enter it into the register. This registration is necessary to establish the child's identity and filiation. Although gestational surrogacy is considered an assisted reproduction practice, it is nevertheless the rules of filiation “by blood” that apply to the birth (and not those provided for by the system of filiation by assisted reproduction), regardless of whether or not the woman who gives birth to the child is the genitor ( Malacket, 2015 ).

In practice, when a child is born from gestational surrogacy in Quebec, the child's initial parents are the surrogate woman and the man who conceived the child. Unlike the current state of family law in Ontario and British Columbia, [6] the members of the couple by intention cannot both be recognized as the legal parents at birth. Moreover, they will have no legal recourse if the surrogate changes her mind and decides to keep her maternal filiation. Similarly, the surrogate will not be able to force a non-genetically related intended parent to adopt and care for the child if the agreement is dissolved during the pregnancy or when the baby is born. To regularize the situation, i.e. to establish the filiation of the child with the other parent by intention (mother or father), the recourse is adoption by special consent. [7] The woman who gave birth must first relinquish her parental rights and responsibilities as a legal mother and consent to the adoption of the child. She has 30 days to withdraw her consent. An application for a placement order can then be filed, allowing the non-statutory parent to take an adoption leave. When the conditions are met and no request for the return of the child has been made, the court issues a placement order valid until the end of the adoption process, which can last from three to six months. This order grants the father's spouse parental authority over the child. After this period, an adoption judgment can be rendered. The court must then make a decision on the basis of the existing laws on filiation and the jurisprudence on the matter.

Digital technologies and the search for origins

Thanks to the increasing use of digital social networks, the search for origins now extends well beyond institutional mechanisms that authorize or deny access to information. Social networks build relationships and create groups that share a common origin, and they encourage the emergence of a common experience of adoption or donor conception . In France, as elsewhere, an examination of such forums and of the webpages of people " born under X, " adopted, [8] or donor-conceived reveals the importance of these digital exchanges (Black et al., 2016). While they allow people to share their experiences and feelings by identifying with a group to which they belong, they are also considered a useful alternative to institutional research mechanisms, which are often found to be ineffective by people seeking information about the terms of their conception or birth.

In her article, Johanne Thompson Sweeny deals specifically with how social networks are changing the methods of research in international adoption. The use of information and communication technologies facilitates and accelerates such searches, by making public information that is sometimes considered confidential by institutions and by authorizing virtual relationships despite geographical distance. On the other hand, it short-circuits the possibility of the protagonists ' consent and tends to make it impossible to control rapid, multiple and sometimes invasive interactions. In addition to these exchanges of information and virtual contacts, the development of a globalized industry of genetic and genealogical services now offers Internet access to so-called direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA tests and to genealogy sites. These often become a key tool in the search for origins, whether it is an attempt to identify birth parents in the region of the world where the adoptees were born or, in the case of assisted reproduction, to find an egg/sperm donor and people conceived from the same donor (Abel et Pálsson, 2020 ; Martin, ce numéro).

Relationships rooted in nature?

The focus on origins in the study of contemporary family arrangements makes it possible to analyze what reproduction means today, when people may contribute to the conception of a child without becoming its parents in the legal sense, thus remaining in the margins of kinship. Do relationships associated with origins stemming from a procreative event or act reflect a naturalized perception of kinship and identities?

In view of the continuous advances in knowledge and reproductive technology, access to information about origins can be interpreted as a quest for "truth" that seems to ascribe to the flesh an unprecedented power in defining the questions (Memmi, 2014). Although biogenetic knowledge is now considered by our societies to be "constitutive" of identity and kinship (Strathern, 1999), in Western societies blood and flesh are actually very old metaphors for kinship ( Martial et Fine 2010; Courduriès et Gourarier, 2020 ), whose representations have gradually shifted "from consubstantiality to genes" (Delaisi de Parseval et Collard, 2007 : 41). In this dynamic and changing relationship with the facts of reproduction, the terms evoking nature, blood ties, genes and their distribution have become one of the "contemporary ways of expressing kinship, connecting or conversely separating certain categories of parents" (Edwards, 2009 : 322).

The body is highlighted in discussions concerning resemblances, a topic analysed in several articles in this issue. As Johanne Sweeny reminds us in her paper, physical resemblances are at the root of many questions about origins in adoptive situations . The genetic resemblances resulting from the donor were also mentioned by the mothers in lesbian families that Alice Sophie Sarcinelli and Charlotte Simon met, as well as by women who received an egg donation in the study by Raphaële Noël, Marie-Alexia Allard and Gabrielle Pelletier. Anaïs Martin shows the importance and meaning of resemblance in the way donor-conceived people talk about their donor (2019). She also reminds us that the links between people from the same donor, highlighted by genetic connections, "appear at first sight in their physical dimension." However, as we shall see, this dimension is not enough to account for the meanings ascribed to these connections, because relationships associated with the "truth" of conception are the subject of a variety of interpretations, negotiations and elective strategies (Abel et Pálsson, 2020).

The concept of origins also raises questions about gender asymmetries in the reproductive process . The search for a father or genitor, attempts to establish connections with "birth parents" and the desire to know the identity of a donor are directed at both women and men. The concept of "origin" therefore covers a variety of interpretations, referring to genetics on the one hand, and to pregnancy and birth, on the other, through the notion of "birth mother" in adoption, or the variations created by surrogacy . These methods of conception are evoked and interpreted variously.

In France, the few studies dealing with birth parents are primarily quantitative and focus on women who have given birth secretively (Lefaucheur, 2001; Villeneuve-Gokalp, 2011). Sweeny's article points out, following other studies (Carsten, 2007), the centrality of the character of the "birth mother," who arouses ambivalent feelings, while the figure of the genitor, generally not found in the records of children "born of X" (Martial, 2020), sometimes appears in legal documents. Lawyers Brunet and Giroux emphasize in their article the way in which French law sets up an opposition between the rights of the biological mother and father. The latter, informed of the pregnancy and the birth, may become interested in the child and request that the child be entrusted to him, thus thwarting the right of the birth mother to have her baby in secret. However, they specify that "the regulations in force, their implementation by the CNAOP and their interpretation by the courts converge toward a restrictive application of the birth father's rights to obtain custody of the child" before it has been put up for adoption.

The complex facets of assisted reproduction are likely to lead to multiple connections between the child and the men and women who took part in the conception (Courduriès, 2016). We know that donating an egg or sperm is a medical process that is not equally difficult, and can be part of different steps, linked to different conceptions of male and female roles in reproduction (Almeling, 2011; Molas et Bestard, 2017). However, we do not know the effects of this on the concept of parentage, especially since most of the work in MAR currently focuses primarily on sperm donations.

In surrogacy and egg donation, the child’s origins are redefined and pluralized during pregnancy and birth: Are they located in the genes of the donor (or the intended mother), or in the womb of the woman who carried it? "While it has become commonplace for several people to come together to make a child," write Geneviève Delaisi de Parseval and Chantal Collard (2007, p. 30), the fact remains that little is known about the particular numbers of Euro-American surrogacy; these are still being developed and "tinkered with." Belgian psychologist Françoise Cailleau (2013, p. 28) believes that assisted reproduction practices invite us to "rethink parenthood in its various dimensions, as well as the matter of the multiplicities of the feminine and the maternal." As the process of surrogacy or egg donation unfolds, the contacts maintained among the persons concerned quietly build a singular relational framework that, at the outset, binds the adults together by integrating the symbolic presence of the child to come. This linking of trajectories, while unique to each group of individuals, occurs nonetheless through social mores that shape the narrative of the genesis of the family.

To talk or not to talk about one's origins: the stakes of the narrative

In various adoption studies, the narrative is at the heart of personal origins as it can place the people, acts and relationships connected with the birth within a coherent and continuous temporality, otherwise marked by silence, secrets or separations. As Jane Carsten (2000: 692) suggests, the search by adoptees reveals and counters "the very considerable dislocations of ' kinship time. ' " In fact, the origins narrative appears constitutive of personal identity for adults in search of the conditions of their birth (Théry, 2010; Martial, 2020), while contemporary educational norms urge adoptive or intended parents to tell their children the story of their coming into the world. Such adoption narratives have become a common family practice, especially in an international context.

Sociologist Petra Nordqvist (2021) writes that the insistence on "transparency" that now characterizes assisted reproduction practices creates challenges for parents and presents them with contradictory moral standards – How and when to tell the child and the extended family? Who owns the "truth" about the child's history and identity? ­­– since donor conception must take into account the extremely relational nature of family life. Telling or concealing the circumstances of their birth from the child also depends on familial arrangements and engenders a wide variety of practices. Heterosexual families, for example, are more likely to maintain secrecy or delay telling the child than lesbian families (Readings et al., 2011 ) . This observation reveals different relational issues for these two types of families: for heterosexual couples, concretizing the desire for a child through sperm donation is the result a painful journey through infertility, while for female couples it represents the preferred way to start a family (Hayman et Wilkes, 2017 ) . Although disclosure is a matter of course for lesbian couples, mothers still need to think about where they want to place the donor in the family’s imagination (Côté, 2014; Goldberg et Allen, 2013).

Using a survey of three generations of lesbian parent families in Italy and Belgium, Alice Sophie Sarcinelli and Charlotte Simon examine different forms of parentage narratives in a variety of media (books, cartoons, etc.). The status of the donor ranges from simply being a provider of reproductive material to a person located in the child's relational environment. These narratives are often inspired by the community in which the parents evolve and tend to build "a common narrative, even a shared cultural method of talking about origins within the lesbian community." A trip with the child to the country where the MAR took place also echoes the "return trips" organized by adoptive families, with genetic origins becoming a national heritage. Sarcinelli and Simon ' s investigation also reveals the hesitations, silences and ambiguities of parental discussions on origins, whether or not the donor is known. Indeed, while anonymity transfers a "non-person" status on the donor and establishes an incomplete relationship (Thompson, 2005; Nordqvist, 2017; Konrad, 2005), knowledge about sperm and egg donation creates connections between the child, the donor and their respective relatives that go beyond ordinary definitions of what constitutes a family. A donor may thus be defined as being one of the "relatives" (Côté et Lavoie, 2016), while sexual or matrimonial prohibitions in degrees may be spontaneously associated with the relationships created by the donation (Martin, 2017).

Limiting access to donor information is thus a means of protecting against "excessive kinship" (Konrad, 2005). Sarcinelli and Simon note a common tendency in lesbian families to minimize the role of the donor in order to protect that of the mother of intention within the parental couple. This is consistent with the principle of exclusive filiation, which Côté (2014) and Gross (2014) also demonstrate in other national contexts. In their analysis of the discussions and genograms generated by directed egg donation, Raphaële Noël, Marie-Alexia Allard and Gabrielle Pelletier highlight the importance of the "donor’s narrative," recognizing the psychological work carried out by the female donor to give meaning to her gesture and to create a connection with the child. With this narrative, the donors also contribute to crafting the recipient couple’s narrative, which includes the donor, while co-constructing the intended motherhood.

Kévin Lavoie (2019) also documents the origins narrative in his study of assisted reproduction by egg donation or surrogacy , which reflects the sequence of childbirth in which each protagonist finds their role in crafting the genesis of the family . This narrative construct is based on three forms of assisted motherhood: exclusive , sequential , or honorary . These representations influence the way in which the child is informed about the circumstances of their conception, as well as the kinds of ties established among all of the people involved, including life partners, children and grandparents: patent kinship ties, friendly relations between the two families, or ties that have been broken or that never existed. The nature of these ties varies according to the initial motivations and the outcome of negotiating the assisted reproduction agreement. Above all, it depends upon the affinities among the persons concerned and the relational closeness maintained or lost during the pregnancy.

Putting practices to the test: from narratives to relationships

What happens when the connection with the origins, known since the child's birth or discovered later, results in relationships?

Going home, "reunions" and multi-parenting in adoptive situations

The adoption terminology associated with origins reveals the power of conventional reproductive norms in determining relationship links. When adoptees are successful in their quests, they meet a "mother," "father," "brothers and sisters" or a "birth family," but these commonly used and accepted terms cover a wide range of situations. Janet Carsten (2007) describes the feeling of arbitrariness that characterizes stories of family meetings with very uncertain, and in some cases disturbing, outcomes. Anything can emerge from these encounters: new relationships, a disappointing confrontation, the simple identification of an unknown origin, or even grief following the discovery of the death of a parent they never met (Sagnes, 2000; Carsten, 2007). Internationally, parents sometimes meet with the child’s biological mother or birth family during the adoption process, but relations rarely continue beyond this point (Ouellette et Mossière, 2004). In research on adult adoptees, studies agree on the diversity of reunion scenarios, which often do not go beyond a single meeting or trip. International adoptees do, however, sometimes establish long-lasting and stable relationships with their birth families, during which bonds of affection and solidarity are forged (Ouellette, 2008; Yngvesson, 2010). While the law focuses on identifying ascendants, siblings by birth are very much invested in the search for origins. However, the bonds most often continue between only one or two members of a group of siblings, reflecting the highly selective nature of these relationships (Carsten, 2000; Sagnes, 2000). Connecting with origins ultimately leads to constructing relationships that are completely independent of a kinship linked to birth. For example, Eleana Kim (2007) describes the case of South Korean adoptees who return to their country of birth and find it impossible to identify their birth parents. They then create new relationships based on a shared experience of displacement and on complex negotiations between the feelings of being both "foreign" and "familiar" in Korea.

Although the proliferation of "relatives" around adoptees can evoke certain fears and tensions, when the search for origins results in long-standing relationships, it does not seem to threaten the position and status of the adoptive family, who may themselves be involved in the search and reunion processes in different ways (Prébin, 2006; Carsten, 2007; Ouellette, 2008; Ouellette et Saint-Pierre, 2008; 2011; Yngvesson, 2010). However, these searches occur only once the adoptees have reached adulthood, with the adoptive family having previously been the only space for education and bonding. Other experiences show more complex forms of coexistence among different relatives during childhood. For example, open adoption, studied in the United States in the late 1990s organizes ongoing post-adoption contacts between the child, the adoptive family and the birth parent(s) (Hollinger, 2000).

The article by Doris Châteauneuf, Geneviève Pagé and Béatrice Decaluwe explains the issues and challenges facing the "Mixed - Bank" system in Quebec today. This "concurrent planning" program, for which there are equivalents in Great Britain and the United States, places very young children at high risk of neglect into adoptive foster families. The authors show how such arrangements can lead to competing concepts of parenthood, in a context where it is always experienced as incomplete: the "parenting without rights" of foster parents mirrors the "parenting without children" of birth parents. The role played by those involved in following up on the child’s origins – discussing the birth parents, encouraging or limiting contact, etc. – can have a significant impact on relations between families. Some foster parents come to terms with multi-parenting by choosing to secure their situation (via the child ' s placement at the age of majority or the transfer of parental attributes) over their initial adoption goal, and by giving a positive value to the presence of birth parents in the child’s life to define their identity. Laurence Brunet and Michelle Giroux, in response to Françoise Romaine Ouellette and Carmen Lavallée (2020), express regret that, in situations in Quebec where children in care are adopted late, Quebec's adoption reform did not recognize a form of additive adoption that could be an alternative to full adoption, following the model of simple adoption in France.

Relationships created by origin in family configurations resulting from assisted reproduction

Situations where the recourse is to a known sperm donor and the terminology used by the families reveals the variability of the man’s status, yet over time he eventually becomes an actor in the course of the child’s history (Côté, et al, 2015; Côté, et al., 2019). Sarcinelli and Simon show that in the case of donation through a known donor, negotiations leading up to the donation often remain incomplete. The terms of the relationship created by the donation then need to be re-defined over time, as the relationship repertoire of the kinship is constructed.

In their contribution, psychologists Noël, Allard and Pelletier analyze the narratives that describe the development of an affective and relational history between egg donors and recipient couples, stories that result in efforts to define and name relationships. The donation transforms or recreates these connections, either by strengthening an existing genetic relationship or by deepening an already established friendship, which becomes the "donation branch" in the genograms made by the recipient couples. The authors observe in this a co-construction of maternal identity that involves both spouses and donors, and that specifically includes recognition of the donation.

When a third-party donor is identified at a later date, the social behaviour associated with parentage may take on forms that are quite different from ordinary kinship relationships. Research in assisted reproduction has revealed the importance of groups of people born from the same donation (Hertz et Nelson, 2019; Nordqvist et Smart, 2014), and in this issue Anaïs Martin offers an analysis based on a survey conducted in the United Kingdom. To better understand how these relationships are defined, she describes how individuals from the same donation distinguish their relationships from those with their siblings (raised with them by the same parents) or with the donor's children (with whom they share a genetic link). The unique experience of assisted reproduction leads much more to the creation of relationships than do genetic connections. The order in which people join these numerous and extendable groups, subject to the timing of the assisted reproduction as well as to that of the search processes, replaces the criterion of birth order. In addition to virtual exchanges (messaging or social networks) and group meetings, interpersonal links based on affinity emerge, which can, however, be interrupted at any time.

Conclusion. Origins, kinship and multi-parenting: shifting boundaries

"Each society and each period establishes the combinations that frame the representations of who is a parent, determining the foundation around which the community, supported or not by the law, defines the rights and duties of the authors of the childbirth, then of the partners responsible for the daily life and growth of the new generations," concludes Dominique Mehl (2008, p. 295) in her book Enfants du don . Far from reducing kinship and identities to merely evidence of a biogenetic fact, the connection to origins, constructed through polyphonic narratives, produces an unprecedented diversity of relational experiences in contemporary family configurations. At the edges of kinship, the notion of relatedness proposed by Carsten (2000) seems particularly adapted to an analysis of these procedural, unpredictable relationships, which are subject to the effects of time and experience.

Echoing Carsten, Allebrandt (2013) speaks of a "fluid kinship" consisting of both connections and relationships that go beyond the genealogical model, permitting discussion of the links created by adoption and surrogacy . While connections are composed of aspects or characteristics that may demonstrate similarity (such as physical resemblance or shared genetic links), relationships illustrate the processes and interactions linking two elements or two people together. For the anthropologist, the "quest for origins underlines the importance of taming different forms of connection and opens a breach to transform these connections into relationships" (Allebrandt, 2013, p. 245). These relationships, and the resulting multi-parent arrangements, also reveal the shifting nature of the boundaries that distinguish different categories of "parents" around the child adopted or conceived through donation (Freeman et al., 2014). The articles that make up this issue, each in its own way and citing different contexts, invite us to pursue these reflections on the frontiers of multi-parenting situations created by connecting to origins.