Switched at birth and kinship implications

Switched at Birth and Kinship Implications
The “ Switched at Birth” podcast episode, on the popular radio show “ This American Life”, provides insight into the intricate nature of kinship. Conventionally defined as, a culture-oriented concept about biological and adoptive associations among members of a family unit, kinship is a principle vital to social organization within diverse societies. Despite the prevalent notion that kin relations are primarily biological, it is imperative to note that social links are equally important in establishing familial structures (Stone, p. 23). This is clearly illustrated by the case in question, where two babies were given to non-biological mothers at birth. Mary and Norbert Miller were given the biological daughter of Sue and Kay McDonald, and vice versa. This paper explores kinship implications of the switch, on the daughters, Sue McDonald and Marti Miller, as well as, the rest of the family unit.
After learning about the exchange at the age of 43 years, Sue McDonald, the Millers’ biological daughter, and Marti Miller, the McDonalds’ biological daughter, got to speculate on their relations with both the adoptive and biological families. When Sue got to meet her biological parents, she noted that they were as eager as she was to know her and embrace her as part of the family. However, despite her admiration of the big family she always wanted to be a part of, she could not right away establish a relationship with them, although this has gradually happened over time. She remains close to her adoptive parents than her biological ones and although she is different from the adoptive family by being tall, skinny, and studious, Kay and Sue McDonald remain immensely close to her. However, Sue describes her relationship with her adoptive brother, Bob, as strained, since they did not have anything in common. The rift between them became even larger when Marti came into the picture, because they share a natural social ease, among other attributes (Chicago Public Media and Glass, n. pg).
Marti Miller’s case also takes a path almost similar to that of Sue McDonald. She grew up as the sixth born child, in a family of seven children, and stood out from the rest. While all the Miller kids were serious and bookish, she was the jovial one, who engaged in numerous social activities at school including cheerleading. As she speculates on her upbringing as a Miller, she indicates that she was not that close to her adoptive mother, but had a cordial relationship with the parents just like the other kids in the family. The relationship with her mother became even more strained after the switch came to light, and Marti felt like Mary Miller was trying to push her away toward her biological parents. Her biological parents, Kay and Sue, were also not ready to embrace her, since they seemed to guard their feelings and did not want to get estranged from their non-biological child, Sue. However, her biological brother Bob readily accepted her and they swiftly established a strong sibling relationship. She also became closer to her adoptive father, Norbert Miller and retained relations with the Miller siblings, although she cannot help but wonder how they relate to their biological sister (Chicago Public Media and Glass, n. pg).
After learning about the switch, both Sue and Marti have had to cope with complex family ties. This is because they now have two full families, comprising of two sets of guardians, siblings, cousins and other members of the extended family. For instance, although Sue and Marti are not directly related, they still have to relate since both of them are a part of the Millers’ and the McDonalds’ family. Marti must also relate to her biological brother Bob, while maintaining the relationship with her non-biological siblings, and Sue must also do the same. The family’s intricate web serves as clear proof that, social relations are as important as biological associations in social organization (Stone, p. 24).
Works Cited
Chicago Public Media and Glass, Ira. 360: Switched At Birth Transcript. 2008. Web. 1 February 2014.
Stone, Linda. New Directions in Anthropological Kinship. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2001. Print.