What personal truths reside in biological ties that are absent in adoptive ties? And why do we think adoptive and biological ties are essentially different when it comes to understanding who we are? At a time when interest in DNA and ancestry is exploding, Frances Latchford questions the idea that knowing one's bio-genealogy is integral to personal identity or a sense of family and belonging. Upending our established values and beliefs about what makes a family, Steeped in Blood examines the social and political devaluation of adoptive ties. It takes readers on an intellectual journey through accepted wisdom about adoption, twins, kinship, and incest, and challenges our naturalistic and individualistic assumptions about identity and the biological ties that bind us, sometimes violently, to our families. Latchford exposes how our desire for bio-genealogical knowledge, understood as it is by family and adoption experts, pathologizes adoptees by posing the biological tie as a necessary condition for normal identity formation. Rejecting the idea that a love of the self-same is fundamental to family bonds, her book is a reaction to the wounds families suffer whenever they dare to revel in their difference. A rejoinder to rhetoric that defines adoptees, adoptive kin, and their family intimacies as inferior and inauthentic, Steeped in Blood's view through the lens of critical adoption studies decentres our cultural obsession with the biological family imaginary and makes real the possibility of being family in the absence of blood.
About the author
Frances J. Latchford is associate professor of philosophy in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at York University.
"Latchford's book is an excellent resource for academics, activists, and others who oppose the cultural forces that devalue adoptive ties and pathologize adoptees. For those who want to understand these social biases and how steeped we are in them, her book is essential reading. My hope is that many people will draw on Latchford's work to promote change, particularly in the institution of adoption and in other family-making institutions." Adoption & Culture
"Latchford's astute analysis offers helpful insights for better understanding adoptive pitfalls and should be valuable for scholars in this field." Choice
"This provocative, compelling book challenges stubborn assumptions that the accident of biology is the best, most natural basis for family ties. A well-written argument in support of adoptive families and all familial relationships rooted in caring, Steeped in Blood insists that the pleasures and pains of kinship are forged through the intimacy of social relations, not blood." Herizons