Let's teach out-of-family-care children what a family is


«A family-type environment» in welfare policy of Latvia has been a guiding principle of organizing care for out-of-family-care children. Within the framework of deinstitutionalization commenced in 2015, it is also the main target for reforms in the alternative care system. Previously, the same principle resulted in a rather unusual policy, seldom found elsewhere: a legal category of host family was introduced, complementing that of foster family. According to the amendment to the Children’s Rights Protection Law passed in 2008, an individual or a couple approved by a custody court could host an out-of-family-care child for three months or more. By 2017, however, it became clear that very few local families wished to host a child from a long-term residential institution or a negligent family. Instead, hosting agencies from Western countries had often utilised this legal opportunity, more often than not as an initiation for an intercountry adoption procedure. In the perspective of anthropology of kinship, the attempts to introduce children to patterns of familial relationships through state regulations appear paradoxical: for a long period, the role of kin ties was assumed to be diminishing in modern nation-states (McKinnon & Cannell 2013; Yanagisako 2015). On the other hand, the bonds of relatedness created through intercountry child hosting programmes can be viewed as an expression of a political belonging (cf. Thelen & Coe 2017). I will demonstrate that discussing meanings of family, care and belonging generated by a Latvian schoolgirl’s experience of being for three summers hosted in France.

Aug 27, 2019
Poznaņa (Polija)
Agita Lūse

Anthropologist, researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology