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Hānai

 

Hānai is a term used in the Hawaiian culture that refers to the informal adoption of one person by another.[1] It can be used as an adjective, such as "hānai child", or as a verb "to hānai" someone into the family.

In the Hawaiian culture, hānai has historically been a practice of one family hānai-ing their child into another family. It has made tracing genealogical roots somewhat more complicated.[2]

When Winona Beamer spoke about the issue of hānai and its relevance to admission at Kamehameha Schools, she had first-hand knowledge of the practice in her immediate family. Kaliko Beamer-Trapp was born in England, but emigrated to the United States with his biological mother. When Beamer decided to hānai Kaliko into her family, it was with a special hānai ceremony. Other Polynesian cultures, such as the Tahitians and the Māori, have similar practices of adoptions.