Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Adoption Contract Penalty Clauses

Adoption contracts frequently, but not always, have a penalty clause in them. Penalties may be set for breaking the terms of the contract by either the adopter(s) or the adoptee(s).

The penalties range from being sold into slavery to losing one’s inheritance. Sometimes a payment of some sort would need to be made for violating the terms of the contract. For instance, an adoption contract from Nippur concerns the adoption of three males (Ilum-gamil, Mar-ersetim and Ilsu-bani) by a man named Damiq-ilisu. If any of the three adoptees say “you are not our father” they will be shaved, marked as a slave and sold (see Stone and Owen, “Adoption in Old Babylonian Nippur in the Archive of Mannum-mesu-lissur”, p. 45).

Another contract from the same source (translated again by Stone and Owen, p.46) provides once again for the adoptees to be sold into slavery for repudiating their adopted parents. The parents will forfeit their house and field and pay an additional one mina of silver for violating the terms of the contract.

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