Disownment occurs when a parent renounces or no longer accepts a child as a family member. It differs from giving a child up for adoption. It is a social and interpersonal act and usually takes place later in the child's life. Among other things, it implies no responsibility for future care, making it similar to divorce or repudiation (of a spouse). Disownment may entail disinheritance, familial exile, or shunning, and often all three.
The antonym, wherein the child disassociates from their parents is called defooing, also spelled deFOOing. 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".
- AMERY, Rt Hon. Leopold Stennett[permanent dead link] at Who Was Who 1997-2006 online (accessed 11 January 2008)
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