Papering the Origins: Place-Making, Privacy, and Kinship in Spanish International Adoption

Jessaca Leinaweaver - Genealogy

Abstract: This article examines place and privacy as two key resources for producing kinship through an analysis of exceptional legal practices in Spain that overdetermine international adoptees’ Spanishness. Per Spanish law, minors internationally adopted by a Spanish parent are “Spanish by origin” (españoles de origen). Over and above this, however, Spain’s Civil Registry Law was modified in 2005 to allow internationally adoptive parents to officially change their child’s place of birth in the formal record. I draw on legal material about this change, as well as online posts by adoptive parents discussing it, to make two claims. First, I identify the significance of place as a key resource for the production of kinship—belonging to a Spanish family and nation. Second, I note the persistence of an ideology of secrecy or privacy surrounding the family that is linked to a history of illicit child circulations during the Franco era. I further show that documents are a key nexus mediating the place–kinship and privacy–kinship relations, requiring further attention to both legal documentation and the proliferation of public personal narratives, such as blog posts, as evidence of family dynamics.