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date: 01 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

A significant body of literature has examined human families from an evolutionary perspective. Another significant body of literature has examined adoptive families. Unfortunately, these two bodies of literature have generally been kept separate from each other. To address this gap, I examine adoption from an evolutionary perspective. My goal is to both better understand adoption via evolutionary theory, as well as to better understand the evolution of families via adoption. I examine several forms and functions of adoption, including adoption as a substitute for biological children, adoption as a means of kin support, and adoption as a means of social exchange and manipulation. From an evolutionary perspective, what stands out about adoption is its ubiquity and its diversity, its emphasis on biological kinship, and its potential utility as a social tool. I recommend further studies on the ecology of adoption, as well as unifying adoption with other modern approaches to families, including cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

Keywords: Adoption, evolution, cross-cultural, facial cues

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