Adoption Fic

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms:
Related: kidfic, crossover, AU, Real Parent
See Also:
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Adoption Fics are most common in Harry Potter fanfic and crossovers, but sometimes seen in other fandoms with canon orphans (or characters who can easily be made to be orphans). The idea is simple; someone else brings up the child so that he or she has different skills and possibly a different personality. This is especially easy to justify in the case of Harry Potter, since he was (a) orphaned, (b) left on a doorstep, and (c) had abusive adopted parents. Many stories have him found and rescued immediately after he was orphaned, left on the Dursley's doorstep but removed and saved, abandoned by the Dursleys at some point after they find him, taken from the Dursleys because they are caught abusing him, or otherwise removed from their "care". This can be done entirely within the original fandom, e.g. in stories in which Harry is adopted by Severus Snape, the Weasleys, Gilderoy Lockhart, etc., or as a crossover with another fandom.

A variant on this theme has the child apparently killed but in fact rescued (or abducted) and bought up by different parents. This version crops up repeatedly in NCIS crossovers due to the canon deaths of Kelly Gibbs and her mother.

A related trope is the Real Parent story, in which the character is not adopted, but the character's father or (less often) mother is someone unexpected. In that case the identity of the real parent and any benefits or problems that result (superpowers, immense wealth, hunted by alien assassins, etc.) are generally the main focus of the story.

A reversal of this trope is the fairy-story idea of Changelings, fake children left behind when the real child is abducted by fairies or other supernatural creatures. Such stories usually revolve around the recovery of the real child, who may or may not be grateful for the "rescue," though there are other possibilities:

"Fiona was used to being called a changeling in the course of any and every scolding, though in fact the local goblins were notoriously choosy. Several times, and with good reason, the peasantry had abandoned their ill-favoured son Dribble.. ..outside known goblin caves, and each time he had been politely returned." - David Langford: The Distressing Damsel

Canon Orphans and Adoption

  • The Baudelaire children in A Series of Unfortunate Events are orphaned and adopted by the evil Count Olaf.
  • Claire Bennet in Heroes is adopted, the identity of her true parents turns out to be a major plot point.
  • Modesty Blaise and her sidekick Willie Garvin are both orphans who were never adopted.
  • Temperence Brennan and her brother (Bones) are mysteriously abandoned by their parents and bought up in a succession of foster homes.[1]
  • Captain Carrot (Discworld novels) is a human adopted and raised by dwarves, and thinks of himself as a dwarf, at least in cultural terms.
  • Cassandra, an alien, is adopted by Janet Frasier in Stargate SG-1
  • Gru (Despicable Me) adopts three sisters - Margo, Edith, and Agnes - from an orphanage. Their origin is never explained.
  • Clark Kent (Superman) is the adopted son of Jonathan and Martha Kent.
    • DC Elseworlds comics include several Superman AUs in which baby Kal-El's capsule is found by different foster parents, such as Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha.
    • The last episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman ends with an unknown child mysteriously appearing in the Kent home.
    • Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) is adopted by human foster-parents in most versions of her unusually confusing canon.
  • Leela (Futurama) was left outside an orphanage.
  • Loki (Thor) was adopted by Odin; he is actually a Frost Giant, not an Asgardian.
  • Connor MacLeod and all other Highlander immortals; it's canon for the series that immortals cannot have children, they are all foundlings, and nobody knows where they come from. In canon their parents usually hate them after their first death.
  • Mowgli (The Jungle Book) is a human child bought up by wolves.
  • Dexter Morgan is the child of a murder victim, adopted by foster parents. So is his brother.
  • Harry Potter. See above.
    • Thomas Riddle (Lord Voldemort) is also an orphan.
    • Although not actually orphaned, Neville Longbottom is bought up by his grandmother since his parents were driven insane by Voldemort's Death Eaters.
  • Natasha Romanoff (Romanova) is an orphan bought up in the Red Room, a specialised orphanage for training assassins, in most versions of her canon.
  • Bam-Bam Rubble (The Flintstones) was left on the Rubble doorstep.
  • Abbey Sciutio (NCIS) is adopted but didn't know it until she discovered a previously unknown brother, also adopted but by different parents, when she offered to donate a kidney. Their real parents are currently unknown.
  • Skye (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), AKA Daisy Johnson, Mary Sue Poots, is an orphan who was not adopted.
  • Luke Smith and Sky Smith are both adopted children of Sarah Jane Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • Several canon Star Trek characters are adopted, most notably:
    • Charlie X (in the ST:TOS episode that bears his name) is a human bought up by aliens.
    • Amanda Rogers (in the ST:TNG episode True Q) is a member of the Q species brought up as a human. Neither she nor her foster parents are initially aware of her true nature.
    • Worf is a Klingon adopted by humans.
  • Tarzan is a human child bought up by apes.
  • Thanos (Marvel) killed his own family to impress Death in comics canon, but has two adopted daughters, Gamora and Nebula, in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Sarah Williams (Labyrinth) accidentally wishes that her brother is abducted by goblins, and has to recover him from the Goblin King.
  • Adam Young (Good Omens) is one of three children swapped at birth:
There's a trick they do with one pea and three cups which is very hard to follow, and something like it, for greater stakes than a handful of loose change, is about to take place.
The text will be slowed down to allow the sleight of hand to be followed.
Mrs. Deirdre Young is giving birth in Delivery Room Three. She is having a golden‑haired male baby we will call Baby A.
The wife of the American Cultural Attaché, Mrs. Harriet Bowling, is giving birth in Delivery Room Four. She is having a golden‑haired male baby we will call Baby B.
Sister Mary Loquacious has been a devout Satanist since birth. She went to Sabbat School as a child and won black stars for handwriting and liver. When she was told to join the Chattering Order she went obediently, having a natural talent in that direction and, in any case, knowing that she would be among friends. She would be quite bright, if she was ever put in a position to find out, but long ago found that being a scatterbrain, as she'd put it, gave you an easier journey through life. Currently she is being handed a golden‑haired male baby we will call the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness.
Watch carefully. Round and round they go . . . .[2]

Fan Works

Note: Examples below do not include stories where the adoption or loss of a child has been invented without reference to canon, e.g. stories in which Willow Rosenberg is a long-lost member of the Weasley family, since there is no canon for a lost Weasley child or for Willow being adopted.

Examples in Harry Potter Fanfic

Examples in Other Fandoms

Links

  1. Canon for the TV series only, not the Temperence Brennan novels
  2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, 1990, Gollancz first printing, page 11