First World War hecatomb effects on adoptive practices in France

First World War hecatomb effects on adoptive practices in France

Author:  Catherine Dol, EHESS, Paris, France

Panel: Reinventing Family Continuity after a War Hecatomb

Key words: Adoption, Civil Code, Practice, Family strategy, Childlessness


Adoption in France was rarely used before the First World War. During the war and the post war years, adoptive practices changed. Which has been the part of the war in this trend?
I/ The number of adoptions had increased after the First World War.
The Civil Code of 1804 had strictly limited adoption in France, allowing only the adoption of adult persons. The number of adoptions which was more or less one hundred every year during the XIXth century, reached three hundred immediately after the war. In some cases, adoption had been used as a strategy to replace missing sons who had died during the conflict, searching a family continuity. However, such situations remained exceptional. The major changes concerning adoption are part of new practices regarding children, which could be observed before the war and reflected evolutions on the long term.
II/ A national adoption had been implemented to support the war effort.
III/ After the war, the law regarding adoption changed.
IV/ The war had accelerated the evolution of adoption.
The war in connection with the national values and a global movement regarding children had highlighted a positive approach of adoption.