Adopted children in Cameroon compensate for male power

May 23, 2002

One in three children in East Cameroon do not live with their own mothers but with an adoptive aunt. As a result of this the adoptive aunt acquires a stronger position with respect to her husband and his family. This is the finding of Dr Catrien Notermans from the University of Nijmegen.

In the age group 10 to 14 years, at least 1 in 3 children in Eastern Cameroon do not live with their own mother at home. A child mostly goes to live with an uncle and aunt. That could be next door but equally on the other side of the country.

To find out why so many children went to live with other members of the family, the anthropologist studied various families in the village of Batouri. The adoptive family was shown to benefit the most. A woman who adopts the child of her brother brings her own blood into the family. By bringing the child into her home, the woman gains a better negotiating position with respect to her husband and his family.

Women generally have little difficulty in forming a bond with their brothers' children. Unlike their own biological children, the adoptive children cannot be lost in a divorce, whereas the biological children automatically go to the family of the father. Her brother's children who live with her remain with the woman. In Cameroon weddings have a temporary nature. On average a women has 2 to 3 marriages during the course of her life.

It is also quite common for a man to adopt the children of his sister. This is particularly the case if the sister is not married at that period in her life. In such a situation the biological father cannot then lay a claim to the children. Later, if she is married, the women can in turn request to adopt her brother's children.

Catrien Notermans also spoke with the adopted children. They often feel the victim of interfamily rivalry. A child only serves the interests of one half of the family. Children related to an adoptive uncle, occupy a far from pleasant position if an adoptive aunt opposes them, because after all she is in charge of the home. Children related to an adoptive aunt often feel disadvantaged. Furthermore, the adoptive uncle often spends more money on his own children. However, the adopted child always has the possibility of returning to its parents if it really wants to.
-end-
For further information please contact Dr Catrien Notermans (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nijmegen), tel. +31 (0)24 3616255 (work) or +31 (0)24 3555707 (home), e-mail c.notermans@maw.kun.nl. Catrien Notermans is currently working on a number of publications.

The research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related Children Articles from Brightsurf:

Black and Hispanic children in the US have more severe eczema than white children
A presentation at this year's virtual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting reveals the disparities that exist for Black and Hispanic children when it comes to Atopic Dermatitis (AD), commonly known as eczema.

Black children with cancer three times less likely to receive proton radiotherapy than White children
A retrospective analysis led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital has found racial disparities in the use of the therapy for patients enrolled in trials.

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: First Europe-wide study of children confirms COVID-19 predominately causes mild disease in children and fatalities are very rare
Children with COVID-19 generally experience a mild disease and fatalities are very rare, according to a study of 582 patients from across Europe published today in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

Children not immune to coronavirus; new study from pandemic epicenter describes severe COVID-19 response in children
- While most children infected with the novel coronavirus have mild symptoms, a subset requires hospitalization and a small number require intensive care.

How many children is enough?
Most Russians would like to have two children: a boy and a girl.

Preterm children have similar temperament to children who were institutionally deprived
A child's temperament is affected by the early stages of their life.

Only-children more likely to be obese than children with siblings
Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child.

Children living in countryside outperform children living in metropolitan area in motor skills
Residential density is related to children's motor skills, engagement in outdoor play and organised sports. that Finnish children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age peers in the metropolitan area.

Hispanic and black children more likely to miss school due to eczema than white children
In a study that highlights racial disparities in the everyday impact of eczema, new research shows Hispanic and black children are more likely than white children to miss school due to the chronic skin disease.

Children, their parents, and health professionals often underestimate children's higher weight status
More than half of parents underestimated their children's classification as overweight or obese -- children themselves and health professionals also share this misperception, according to new research being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (April 28-May 1).

Read More: Children News and Children Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.