Friday, February 27, 2009

Hammurabi’s Law Code and Adoption (Part 2)

Several things should be noted about the laws quoted in the previous blog entry:

1) All of these laws refer to a male child being adopted. We know from adoption contracts (more about this later) that girls were also adopted, but the Hammurabi’s Law Code only discusses male adoptees.
2) Law #186 shows that there was a period of time after an adoption during which the biological parents could reclaim the adopted child, but law #185 shows that that period of time was limited.
3) Palace officials (eunichs?) and priestesses could not have a child that they had adopted be reclaimed by the biological parents. Perhaps this was designed to protect palace officials who could not have children by allowing them to adopt children who would care for them in their old age.
4) If a craftsman taught an adoptee his trade, he could not have his adopted son be reclaimed. This would allow a craftsman to be certain that the time and effort he put into teaching the child a trade, would be rewarded by his (the craftsman) having a son who could take over the family business. The craftsman could, however, have the adopted son be reclaimed if he did not teach the child a trade. This is perhaps a protection for the child, to help ensure that the adoptive father would properly raise him.

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