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Gjest Richard Hellesen

[#8561] 'Pleiedatter'

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Gjest Richard Hellesen

Good day....I understand the word 'pleiedatter' (or son) in a census listing to refer to an adopted child of the family. But I have found at least one individual from my own family who was living in such a situation with another family, at the same time that her own family was resident in the same city. What were some of the possible circumstances under which a person could become the foster child of another set of parents? Was this a legal adoption, or merely an informal personal agreement? (In the case I mention, my own family had fallen on hard times--but other children in the family continued living with the widowed mother.) Thanks very much for any insight! --- R. Hellesen

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Gjest Inger Tysland

'Pleiebarn' is not adopted. She (or he) is a fosterchild raised of another family besauce of illness or poor people in her/his own family

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Gjest Aase R Sæther

In fact, the family did not have to be very poor. The 'adoption' often solved another problem: A marriaged couple who did not have children of their own for some reason or other, would ask close or more distant relatives to take over a child (most often a girl) from related families with 'too many' children. My grandmother came from a family with 13 children in a small house, and two of her younger sisters were sent to relatives with no children (two different couples, not in the same village); I think they were about 5-7 years old.

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Gjest Christopher John Harris

Fosterchildren, especially in the cities, could be as Aase says children who stayed with relatives who were better off than the parents or parent of the child. But they could also be children who were 'taken' from their parent(s) for a number of others reasons. The most common reasons were because they played truant and didn't attend school, or because they had become 'acquainted' with the law. So called 'difficult' children could be placed with forster-parents either in the cities or in the country, away from their homes. They could remain here until they were confirmed. As well as being taken away from their proper parents by official bodies ( Poor Law socoieties etc.), there were a number of private societies who worked alongside the authorities in Norwegian cities - especially between the 1840-1930's. There is some literature in Norwegian about these fosterchildren, especially from around Bergen, should you be interested.

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Gjest Richard Hellesen

Thank you all for your responses--they're very helpful. In the case of my family, it was undoubtedly poverty; my g-g-grandfather had died, leaving five children--four seem to have found some kind of work (this was in Trondheim), but one became the fosterdaughter of another family, until she emigrated. I must say that I'm still a bit curious about the legal arrangements--would it have been something that the parents in each family would have contracted between themselves? (i.e., was the Poor Law necessarily involved?) And I'm certainly intrigued as to why a prosperous family (especially an unrelated one, as this apparently was) would take on the burden of yet another child, except out of great altruism. An interesting subject; thank you all for your insights. --R.H.

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