Adoption Fic

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Tropes and genres
Related tropes/genreskidfic, crossover, AU, Real Parent
Related articles on Fanlore.

Adoption Fics are Alternate Universe or Canon Divergence fanfics in which characters are raised by someone else from childhood, so that the child has different skills, possibly a different personality, and events of canon are alter accordingly. This trope is particularly common in Harry Potter fanfic and crossovers, but is also often seen in other fandoms with canon orphans, or characters who can easily be made to be adopted.

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 brought 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.
  • Temperance Brennan and her brother (Bones) are mysteriously abandoned by their parents and brought 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; after Frasier's death she is cared for by Samantha Carter and others.
  • John Connor (the Terminator franchise) spends a prolonged period in foster care while his mother Sarah Connor is institutionalized.
    • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles he is stated to be blood group AB while his mother is group O+, which is only possible if both have extremely rare genetic abnormalities, or if she is not in fact his real mother. While this was probably a script error, it has been suggested as a springboard for an adoption or real parent plot.
  • Amy Dallon (AKA Panacea) in Worm is the adopted daughter of members of a superhero team. Her real father is also a parahuman.
  • 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 brought up by wolves.
  • Dexter Morgan is the child of a murder victim, adopted by foster parents. So is his brother.
  • Peter Parker is adopted by his aunt and uncle after the death of his parents. Later his uncle is also killed
  • Harry Potter. See above.
    • Thomas Riddle (Lord Voldemort) is also an orphan.
    • Although not actually orphaned, Neville Longbottom is brought up by his grandmother since his parents were driven insane by Voldemort's Death Eaters.
    • Similarly, Susan Bones is brought up by her aunt.
  • Natasha Romanoff (Romanova) is an orphan brought 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 brought 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 brought 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.
  • Bruce Wayne (Batman) is canonically an orphan, as are most Robins. His butler Alfred acts as surrogate parent for most of them.
  • Sarah Williams (Labyrinth) accidentally wishes that her brother is abducted by goblins, and has to recover him from the Goblin King. However, children who are wished away become goblins, rather than being adopted by the King as such.
  • Grace, the teenage caretaker of the cemetery in Pathologic, ends up adopted by Peter Stamatin and later (in one of the possible endings) by Saburovs. Saburovs also temporarily adopt Clara (Changeling) during the game, while Garuspix can adopt some of the children characters (Sticky and Murky).
  • 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]

Example Fanworks

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.

Harry Potter

  • Harry Potter and the Sun Source by Clell65619; "A very AU story that crosses the Harry Potter universe with that of Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir's Destroyer universe. In desperation Dumbledore hired the world's greatest Assassin to deal with Voldemort, only to have to cancel the contract when 15 month old Harry 'vanquished' Tom Riddle." (The Destroyer crossover, 2011-2012)
  • When in Doubt, Obliviate by Sarah1281; "When a chance meeting reveals Harry's planned fate to Lockhart, he knows what he has to do: rescue him and raise him as his own to properly manage his celebrity status. Harry gets a magical upbringing, Lockhart gets the Boy-Who-Lived...everybody wins!" (2011–12)
  • The Puir Laddie Who Lived by fojee; "The wee free men are good with doors. So what happens if they find a doorway that led them straight to Godric's Hollow that Halloween night ten years ago?" Discworld crossover (2009)
  • Prophecies? We Don't Need No Stinking Prophecies! by Greywizard; "How would things have changed if Harry Potter was raised by the Scooby Gang?" Buffy crossover, (2006-2014 WIP)
  • My Name Is Yasha Romanoff by ShunKickShunKers; "Sirius found baby Harry first and asked the Black Widow to keep an eye on him while he dealt with Peter. Unfortunately, he never came back and Harry Potter disappeared from the wizardly world. Ten years later, Yasha Romanov receives a letter from Howgarts..." Avengers crossover (2015- WIP, abandoned)
  • Harry's First Detention and Harry's New Home by kbinnz; "Take one mistreated boy, one misinformed man, mix well and watch what happens." Harry is adopted by Snape. (2008, 2008-9)
  • Untraveled Road Universe (series) by allietheepic7; Wade Wilson kidnaps and adopts Harry. (Deadpool crossover) (2015)
  • Amy Potter is Batgirl by Philosophize; "Amy "don't call me Amaryllis" Potter never went to Hogwarts, but the Goblet of Fire makes her a compelled competitor in the Triwizard Tournament. Will three years of tutelage by the Dynamic Duo see her through the treacherous tasks? Will being Batgirl help her beat the villainous Voldemort? And what's with that bewitching yet bothersome, bushy-haired bookworm? Tune in to find out!" Batman crossover (2016)
  • Harry Potter: Adoptive Kaiju by Gojirahkiin; "It seems like fanfics have had baby Harry raised by every character in fiction except for one: Godzilla, King of the Monsters!" Godzilla crossover (2017- WIP)
  • Stealing Harry by copperbadge. Canon Divergence AU in which Sirius never went to Azkaban. After witnessing how the Dursleys abuse Harry, Remus and Sirius adopt him. Remus/Sirius. (2004)
  • Benefits of Old Laws by ulktante; "Parts of souls do not go on alone. When Voldemort returns to a body he is much more sane than before and realizes that he cannot go on as he started. Finding some old laws he sets out to reach his goals in another way. Harry will find his world turned upside down once more and we will see how people react when the evil is not acting how they think it should." Voldemort adopts Harry, 2015-2019.
  • Double Back by Methos2523. "Thrown back in time from 2019 to 1991, a grown and disgruntled Harry Potter finally has the chance to change his life for the better, fixing things before everything went wrong and becoming the father figure for his younger self that he never had." Time-travelling Harry adopts himself. (2019- WIP)
  • The Daring Win by Lomonaaeren. A story about Dolores Umbridge raising Harry Potter, pre-Hogwarts. (2016)
  • Harry Potter was Raised by Others tag on AO3.
  • Soulless Marriage by jpena. Hermione Granger and Severus Snape time traveled to adopt Tom Riddle before he became Voldemort. (2020)

Other Fandoms

Links & Resources

  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