Texas Wesleyan Law Review


Susan Ayres

Document Type



Children's books are "a source of law" for children because "[children] are constantly trying to make sense of what is going on around them, and although literature itself is only a constituent of life experience, as a constituent it is potentially of the greatest importance. As adults and lawyers, we can also read children's books as a source of law because they reflect patriarchal ideologies about the family and stigma surrounding adoption. Like other myths, children's books tell stories about origins and constitute not only subjects but are also the foundation of law by reflecting legal norms and projecting legal changes. Children's stories dramatize the evolution of family and adoption through four narratives: the kinship narrative, the as-if narrative, the failure narrative, and the bad mother narrative. The kinship narrative, discussed in Part II, defines family to include those bound by kinship or blood. The kinship narrative labels adoption as second best and views adoption through three narratives discussed in Part III: the as-if narrative, which sees adoption as trying to replicate kinship; the failure narrative, which views adoption as the result of a failure to have birth children; and the bad mother narrative, which labels the mother who gives up her child for adoption as a bad mother.



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