In Tremontane, the magical lines of power that blanket the world link individuals together as families. These links are referred to as family bonds. A family bond is essential to a Tremontanan’s well-being, as well as being the instrument through which inheritance passes. Failing to provide a child with a family bond, as in cases of extramarital affairs, is a crime, as are falsely accusing someone of failing to provide a bond and knowingly claiming false parentage of a child for the purpose of receiving an entailed adoption (see below).
There are four types of adoption in Tremontane:
Direct adoption: The most common form. A person is bound to his or her partner’s family and is then considered a son or daughter of that line. The adoptee gives up his or her birth family name and all inheritance rights depending on that name, i.e. a woman of the Smith family who adopts into the Jones family would not be automatically entitled to a share in her parents’ fortune, but might have money settled on her in her new name. An adoptee may inherit anything but a title through his or her spouse; a man who marries a Countess is not a Count, but her consort. Men are equally likely to take their wife’s name as the other way around, and the decision as to who will adopt into whose family upon marrying is based on considerations such as whether one partner is an only child, or what kind of inheritances are involved. Children born to such a union inherit the family bond at birth.
Indirect adoption: two people marry, but retain their status in their birth family as well as their own family name. The marriage bond is the only one that joins them. This is usually done when both spouses are the sole inheritors of their birth families (meaning that one adopting into the other would be the end of a family line) and noble titles are involved. Their children inherit from both parents and take a doubled last name created from both their parents’ birth names, arranged in order of highest social standing.
EXAMPLE: Elizabeth, daughter of Amanda Smith and Christopher Jones who are joined by indirect adoption, would be Elizabeth Smith Jones. If she married, and her husband adopted into her family, his surname would become Smith Jones as well. With an indirect adoption that would result in a child having more than two last names, the lowest social status name is dropped.
Children born to this kind of union must undergo a ceremony joining them to one of their parents’ families to receive a family bond, usually that of the higher social status parent.
Combined adoption: two people marry and both add each other’s name to theirs, forming a new family bond unconnected to their birth families (i.e. Amanda Smith Jones and Christopher Smith Jones). They combine their personal property, but no longer inherit through their birth families. Children born to this union inherit the new family bond at birth. Very rare.
Entailed adoption: Used when two people who either cannot marry or have no intent to marry have a child. This allows the child to benefit from having a bond to both parents even when one of those parents is unsuitable or unwilling to raise a child. The child is legally bound to the family of one parent, but is entitled to support from the estate of the other parent. An entailed adoption requires a special ceremony to create the family bond, usually performed by the patriarch or matriarch of the family the child is adopting into. Due to Tremontanan celibacy customs and the availability of reliable contraception, this is also fairly rare.
A similar ceremony to that of the entailed adoption is performed when a couple wishes to adopt an unbonded orphan, or transfer a child’s family bond from one couple to another (for example, if a child’s parents are killed and his mother’s sister wants to raise him).