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Remaking «Family» Communicatively


Edited By Leslie A. Baxter

Demographers have repeatedly confirmed that the nuclear family is on the decline. Yet when Americans are asked about their ideal family, the nuclear family emerges as the most valued kind of family. Members of families that do not match this cultural ideal face a discursive burden to legitimate their identity as a «family.»
This volume gathers together communication scholars who are working on the many kinds of alternative family forms, from, among others, grandfamilies, diasporic immigrant families, and military families to in (voluntarily) childless families and stepfamilies.
The organizing question for the volume focuses on resistance, reconstruction, and resilience: how is it that alternatives to the traditional family are constructed and sustained through communicative practices? Several chapters adopt a global perspective, thereby framing the issue of legitimation of «family» in a broader cultural context.
None of the family forms described in this volume meets the ideological «gold standard” of the nuclear family, and in this sense they all represent a remaking of the family in profound ways.
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Chapter Nine: The Adopted Family


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The Adopted Family


Almost half of American lives have been personally touched by adoption. A recent survey found that 47% of Americans were adopted as a child, have adopted a child, or have an adopted family member or close friend (Dave Thomas Foundation, 2007). According to the most recent U.S. Census data, adopted sons and daughters comprise 2.1 million children or 2% of all U.S. children (Lofquist, Lugaila, O’Connell, & Feliz, 2012). Two types of adoption exist in the United States—domestic and international adoption. Domestic adoption refers to the adoption of U.S. born children and includes both foster-care adoption and private adoptions. Foster-care adoption involves adopting children out of public state care, while private adoptions are arranged via privately funded, licensed adoption agencies. International adoption, on the other hand, refers to the adoption of children born outside the U.S. Many international adoptions are not only transnational, but also transracial, meaning the child and adoptive parent are of different races.

Galvin’s (2003) research agenda ignited communication research on adoptive families. Then, in 2006, Galvin articulated a typology of discourse-dependent families’ internal and external boundary management practices. The aim of the current chapter is two-fold. First, this chapter aims to synthesize extant literature and stimulate future research. Second, this chapter proposes a revision to Galvin’s (2006) initial typology. In addition to Galvin’s two previously identified categories of internal and external boundary management processes,...

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