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21-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2020

Mapping French People’s Positions Regarding the Children’s Right to Know their Biological Parents’ Identity

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2020
Mathilde Nacher, Maria Teresa Muñoz Sastre, Lonzozou Kpanake, Etienne Mullet
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The study aimed at mapping in a detailed way French lay people’s positions on the disclosure of information that makes possible the tracing of their biological origins for adoptees and for donor conceived persons.


A convenience sample of 151 adults was presented with a set of 20 vignettes that depicted the situation of teenagers (1) who recently learned that one or both of their parents were not their biological parents, (2) who wished to have information about biological parents, and (3) who were denied access to information because of legal dispositions in the country. Participants were asked to judge the extent to which the denial of access to information was defensible. The factors introduced in the vignettes were the teenagers’ age and motives (e.g., an 18-year old boy who was suffering from a genetic illness), and the filiation link (e.g., conceived through sperm donation).


Through cluster analysis, four qualitatively different positions were found: Never Defensible (16% of participants), Not Very Defensible (42%), Depends on Circumstances (13%), and Almost Always Defensible (29%).


The difference in importance that participants in this study attributed to blood filiation – whether it was essential to know about it or not – is reminiscent of the more general opposition between two legal principles regarding the way nationality is conferred: jus sanguinis (right of blood, which applies in England or Germany) versus jus soli (right of soil, which applies in France).

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