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International Adoption Cause for Celebration or Cause for Concern? . ‘We’ve got people flying all over the world to adopt babies, while the care system at home agonises about placing black children with white families’ David Cameron, Conservative Party Conference 2011. Themes and context.

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International Adoption Cause for Celebration or Cause for Concern?

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International adoption cause for celebration or cause for concern

International Adoption

Cause for Celebration or

Cause for Concern?


International adoption cause for celebration or cause for concern

  • ‘We’ve got people flying all over the world to adopt babies, while the care system at home agonises about placing black children with white families’

  • David Cameron, Conservative Party Conference 2011


Themes and context

Themes and context

  • relatively small-scale but symbolically powerful

  • identity

  • nature of family – ‘real parents’

  • biological or psychological

  • nature/nurture

  • approved parenting

  • ....race/ethnicity

  • nationhood


Historical background

Historical background

  • from ancient times

  • mass child migrations

  • war orphans and refugees from fascism

  • 20th century formalisation

  • Zelizer - sacralization of childhood – from economic asset to ‘priceless child’


Modern international adoption

Modern international adoption

  • ‘transnational adoption has been shaped by the forces of colonialism, the Cold War and globalization’ (Briggs & Marre)

  • post WW2 adoptions from Europe and Far East

  • Korean war and mixed race children

  • Cold War in Latin America

  • Vietnam and operation Babylift

  • US & western europe (esp Scandinavia)


History of modern ia cont d

History of Modern IA (cont’d)

  • the decline of domestic adoption in West

  • rise of transracial adoption

  • from humanitarianism to infertility

  • decline in late 1980s – awareness of abuses; challenges of assimilation; beyond sunshine stories,

  • end of Cold War – Romania and Eastern European adoptions

  • China and one child policy

  • growth in 1990s – N America, Spain, Italy, and Ireland


Renewal of celebrity adoption

Renewal of celebrity adoption


Historical trends in receiving countries from selman 2009a

Historical trends in receiving countries - from Selman (2009a)


Major sending countries from selman 2009a

Major ‘sending’ countries - from Selman (2009a)


Standardised rates in receiving countries 2004 from selman 2009b

Standardised rates in ‘receiving’ countries 2004 - from Selman (2009b)


Standardised rates in sending countries 2004 from selman 2009b

Standardised rates in ‘sending’ countries 2004 - from Selman (2009b)


Adoption narratives

Adoption narratives

  • love conquers all(?) – triumphs and doubts

  • campaigners for justice

  • birth parents in IA ‘permanently invisible and silent’ (Wiley and Baden)


Perspectives on international adoption

Perspectives on international adoption

  • Masson – promoters, abolitionists and pragmatists

  • child rescue v child trafficking

  • judging ‘success’ – adjustment and identity

  • majority ‘success’ and the troubled/troublesome minority - Hjern & Lindblad; Verhulst and Versluis-den Bieman; Hoksbergen

  • ‘they have undertaken a long journey to a new culture and class, and they have no return ticket’ (Dalen)


Identity and culture wars

Identity and culture wars

  • the politics of transracial adoption – overcoming barriers or cultural imperialism?

  • feelings of belonging

  • ‘psychic homelessness’ (Hoksbergen)

  • what is ‘culture’ and does it matter?

  • ‘culture and family background and country and decorations and songs, all that is fine; but the mother, no’ Stjerna


Globalisation and its effects

Globalisation and its effects

  • international adoption and the internet

  • naming rights?

  • diaspora communities

  • searching, genealogy and beyond

  • international adoption communities & self-help

  • intersection of IA and domestic adoption

  • why adopt abroad?

  • does IA stifle adoption in ‘sending countries’


International adoption and abuses

International adoption and abuses

  • adoption, kidnap and disappearance

  • exploiting disasters and conflicts

  • buying children

  • deception of birth parents - cultural misunderstandings?

  • kafalah in Islam http://www.crin.org/bcn/details.asp?id=15852&themeID=1002&topicID=1014

  • social orphans

  • is global inequality ‘abusive’?– patterns of social reproduction and the ‘best interests’ of children


Pragmatism and regulation

Pragmatism and regulation

  • ‘Recognize that inter-country adoption may be considered as an alternative means of child's care, if the child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child's country of origin’ (UNCRC Article 21b)

  • Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption 1993


Pragmatism cont d

Pragmatism ..... (cont’d)

  • central authority/ies & accredited bodies

  • division of labour between sending and receiving countries

  • partial ratification

  • framework limited by resources and local practices

  • EurAdopt ethical rules http://portal.euradopt.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=15&lang=en


References and bibliography

References and bibliography

  • Bowie F (2004) Cross-cultural approaches to adoption (chs12-17), London: Routledge

  • Dalen M (2005) International adoptions in scandinavia: research focus and main results, inBrodzinsky D and Palacios J (eds) Psychological Issues in Adoption: Research and Practice, Wesport, CT:Praeger

  • Dorow S (2007) Transnational Adoption: a cultural economy of race, gender, and kinship, New York: New York University Press

  • Hoksbergen R (1997) Child Adoption: a Guidebook for Adoptive Parents and their Advisers, London: Jessica Kingsley

  • Howell S (2006) The Kinning of Foreigners: Transnational Adoption in a Global Perspective, New York: Bergahn Books

  • Juffer, F. and M.H. van IJzendoorn (2009) ‘International adoption comes of age:development of international adoptees from a longitudinal and meta-analytical perspective’, in G. Wrobel and E. Neil (eds) International Advances in Adoption Research, Chichester: John Wiley

  • Lindblad F et al (2003) Intercountry adopted children as young adults: a Swedish cohort study, American Journal of Othopsychiatry 73,2

  • Marre D and Briggs L (eds) (2009) International Adoption: global inequalities and the circulation of children, New York: New York University Press

  • McGinnis H (2005) Intercountry Adoption In Emergencies: The tsunami orphans New York: Evan B Donaldson

  • Masson J (2001) Intercountry adoption: a global problem or a global solution, Journal of International Affairs 55,1


References cont d

References (cont’d)

  • Roby J and Matsamura S (2002). If I give you my child, aren’t we family: A study of birthmothers participating in Marshall Islands-U.S. adoptions, Adoption Quarterly, 5,4

  • Rutter M (2005) Adverse preadoption experiences and Psychological Outcomes,inBrodzinsky D and Palacios J (eds) Psychological Issues in Adoption: Research and Practice, Wesport, CT:Praeger

  • Selman P (ed) (2000) IntercountryAdoption:developments, trends and perspectives, London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering

  • Selman P (2009a) Intercountry adoption: research, policy and practice, in Simmonds J and Schofield G (eds) The Child Placement Handbook, London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering

  • Selman P (2009b) From Bucharest to Beijing: changes in countries sending children for international adoption 1990 to 2006, in Wrobel G and Neil E (eds) International Advances in Adoption Research for Practice, Chichester: Wiley

  • Selman P (2009c) The rise and fall of intercountry adoption in the 21st century, International Social Work, 52,5

  • Triseliotis J (2000) Intercountry adoption: global trade or global gift?, Adoption and Fostering 24,2

  • UNICEF Social Monitor (2003) chapter 4 on Intercountry Adoption

  • http://www.unicef-icdc.org/publications/pdf/monitor03/monitor2003.pdf

  • Volkman T (2005) Cultures of Transnational Adoption, Durham, NC: Duke University Press

  • Yngvesson B (2010) Belonging in an Adopted World: Race, Identity, and Transnational Adoption, Chicago: University of Chicago Press


Smolin the two faces of international adoption

Smolin - The Two Faces of International Adoption

  • adoption scandals, like those in Andhra Pradesh, illustrate the necessity of building such systems of accountability into the global adoption system. Without such systems of accountability, one can virtually never know, when holding an adopted child, whether the child was an orphan needing a home, or a beloved daughter or son illicitly taken from a home. Without accountability, the pretty face of adoption as a loving act that fills a real need in a child’s life will, all too often, turn out to be no more than a mask covering over ugly realities of trafficking, profiteering, and needless tragedy.


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