“God issues children to those He sees fit, either through their bodies or through those of others. God makes no difference between children of different issue and therefore nor do we have the right to make such difference.” (From The Epistle of St. Justina to the Church in Oak Grove, ch. 2 l. 7-10)
“For the purposes of inheritance disputes, unless otherwise specified by the parents before their deaths, privilege shall go to the oldest child, measured by date of birth or adoption.” (From The Legal Code of Dolovai, Code on Family Law, by order of Queen Gabrielle ven Sancte XI, DN 1725)
“Adoption of children must be registered through the church nearest the adoptive parents. If the former parents of the adopted child still live, they must attest that they are surrendering their child into another’s care of their own volition and not under duress.” (From The Kyainese Crown’s Laws, Section Four: On the Treatment of Children, Part 2 ratified by King Franco DiGorre IV, SC 3710)
“A child without a free adult guardian has no right to freedom. After the death of their adult guardian, they have sixty-two days to be adopted by a new guardian before their right to freedom is revoked. The nearest city authorities are then granted the right to sell them into slavery and maintain the profit of sale for themselves…Enslaved children may not be freed unless a free adult is available to adopt them.” (From The Imperial Code of Rectitude, Chapter Four: On Slave Law)
Not everyone who wants a child can make their own. For these people, adoption is the most obvious option to become parents. The legal codes of all the world’s nations contain clauses recognizing adopted children as part of the families into which they’ve been adopted without restriction, with Yavhorel law being the only exception in that most Yavhorel nations’ laws contain a clause stating that any child adopted over the age of ten is legally still the child of their biological parents, even after adoption, unless the child attests otherwise. Thought not without its critics, this law exists for inheritance purposes, as children retain the legal right to inheritance from their original parents in addition to their adoptive parents.
The line in the Legal Code of Dolovai indicating that primogeniture is decided by “date of birth or adoption” has analogues in most adoption law across the world. The day on which a child is adopted is considered their “birthday” not for the purpose of deciding age, but for indicating how long they have been a member of the family. Therefore, a parent or parents who already have children choosing to adopt a child who is older than their existing children is not throwing inheritance into chaos, as their newly adopted child is legally considered “younger” than the others. If multiple children are adopted, the age at which they were adopted does not matter for inheritance reasons, as the child adopted first is legally the heir unless otherwise stated. These types of provisions tend to be of more concern to wealthy people, though of course common people will also have possessions and perhaps a small amount of land to pass onto their children as well. Most children are adopted in infancy or early childhood, but adoption is possible at any age in many places—Enjoni and Bevian law both state that children who have reached the age of adulthood cannot be legally adopted, but most other legal systems allow for even adults to be adopted, which in many cases is less hassle as it does not require the consent of their birth parents.
In the majority of cases, there are no birth parents to provide consent in any case. Most orphans are those whose parents have died, often due to issues pertaining to poverty such as disease, starvation, drug use, crime and so on. Of course, parental death is not the only thing that creates orphans. Children are also born to people who are very young, or who had one-night-stands with strangers, or who are experimenting sexually and for those or many other reasons may not desire to raise a child, but also have chosen not to avail themselves of the variety of abortion options available to them, and therefore will surrender the baby to an orphanage, or to another couple in want of a baby. This is generally done with a church official presiding to ensure the legality of the adoption, during which all parties are expected to attest that the adoption is occurring of everyone’s free will. In cases where there are no birth parents, the adoptive parents are still expected to attest this. It is estimated, however, that upwards of two thirds of adoptions do not go through all the correct channels, and that a new parent or parents will simply take on a child as their own without signing the necessary paperwork. This almost never matters, except in rare cases where the birth parents of a child decide they want the child back and accuse the adoptive parents of kidnapping, cases which are, in almost all cases, a magistrate rules in favour of the adoptive parents anyway.
Generally speaking, across the world, adoption is accessible to anyone who needs it and is done without much hassle for the adoptive parents. It results in lots of orphans finding parents, lots of parents finding children, and very rarely does it contain significant complications. All in all, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to do things any differently.
Excerpts from “The Social Institutions of Our Time, Modern Edition,” by Moira Marksadder, published at the Academy for Magecraft in Three Hills, DN 1954.