Since 1953 and the end of the Korean War, an estimated half a million predominantly non-white children from the non-Western world have been transferred for international adoption to the custody of white adoptive parents in North America, Northern and Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. This gigantic child migration, which today involves close to 30,000 children annually, is generally treated as a family planning method or as a child welfare practice in the supplying countries, and as a way of showing solidarity or curing infertility in the receiving countries. Furthermore academically, studies of international adoption are usually limited to the fields of medicine and psychiatry, or to social work and psychology. Instead of following in the footsteps of this dominant way of looking at international adoption and merely reproducing mainstream adoption research, I will here look at international adoption from a different perspective, conceptualized as a trade and trafficking in children taking place between the twin projects of coloniality and modernity, and using Korea as the principal case study. International adoption will be put in relation to a particular Western method of adopting children, and compared to other previous child and forced migrations of non-white populations in the history of European colonial empires and various child rescue operations within the context of the emergence of the American Empire after World War II. Further, international adoption from Korea will also be linked to a long Korean tradition of giving away human beings as tributes to dominant powers and set in comparison with the comfort women issue. Finally, international adoption will also be connected to Korea’s brutal modernization process, and seen as a disciplining method of social control and biological purification, to control women’s bodies and reproduction. At the end, I am arguing that it is necessary to study international adoption from many different angles and perspectives to be able to fully understand its origins, history, current status and future.
2005. 38-55 p.