This paper is an initial exploration of an under researched area in the field of contemporary adoption—the impact of class on adoptive family life. The first part of the paper argues that whilst class is structurally present in adoption work, the effects of class difference have been a neglected dimension of practice. This neglect of class in adoption reflects its elision in the wider social field. It isn’t that class stratification has materially or economically disappeared but that the inequalities it installs are concealed through a new privileging of individualism. This individualizing of social problems places new regimes of responsibility upon both individuals and parents. This section concludes with an exploration of the intensive field of contemporary parenting, where social background is considered unimportant. It is argued that attachment theory has become a dominant paradigm for parenting in both adoption and the wider social field because its classed notions of parenting are concealed. The second part of the paper draws upon a small scale qualitative study with one local authority adoption team where adoptive parents and birth parents were interviewed about class and parenting. Working classness assumed a structuring importance in terms of the interview material, as most participants were from this class background. Two areas are particularly foregrounded: the degree to which adopted children’s class differences are interpreted as attachment difficulties and the degree to which middle-classness operates as a silent measure for successful parenting in substitute care.
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