Disownment

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Disownment occurs when a parent renounces or no longer accepts a child as a family member, usually when the child does something that is perceived as unbecoming of himself or herself and those actions lead to serious emotional consequences. Different from giving a child up for adoption, it is a social and interpersonal act and usually takes place later in the child's life, which means that the disowned son or daughter would have to make his or her own arrangements for future care. Among other things, it implies no responsibility for future care, making it similar to divorce or repudiation (of a spouse), meaning that the disowned child would have to find another residence to call home and be cared for. Disownment may entail disinheritance, familial exile, or shunning, and often all three. A disowned child would no longer be welcome in his or her former family's home or be allowed to attend any major family events, such as birthday parties, graduations, or weddings either, or be allowed to know about any such events taking place on any social media platform.

Disownment is often taboo. In many countries, it is a form of child abandonment and is illegal when the child is a minor.

In rare cases, a society and its institutions will accept an act of disownment. For example, the British politician Leo Amery had two adult sons, both young adults at the time of World War II; one fought in the British forces, while the other, John Amery, cast his lot with Nazi Germany and beamed propaganda radio broadcasts to his homeland. After the end of the war in 1945, young Amery was tried and executed for treason, whereupon the bereaved father asked, and received, permission from the editors of Who's Who to change the terms of his authorized biography from two sons to "one son".[1]

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