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A different perspective on international adoption
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Oriental Languages, Division of Korean Studies.
2005 (English)In: 7th Conference of the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network: Seoul Searching, The Life Of Adoption, 2005Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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 huge 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 countries of origin, 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 examine and analyze international adoption from a different perspective by historicizing and contextualizing the phenomenon within anthropology and migration history, American empire building and international relations, and Korean military authoritarianism and patriarchal modernity. I will make use of international adoption from Korea as the principal case study, as Korea has by far provided the most internationally adopted children and since the practice itself was initiated in connection with the Korean War. International adoption will be put in relation to a particular Western mode of adopting, and to other previous and contemporary child and forced migrations, and set within the context of the emergence of American world dominance after World War II. At the other end, international adoption will be connected to Korea’s modernization process, and seen as a disciplining method of regulating and controlling women’s bodies and reproduction in the name of developmentalist thinking and social engineering. 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.

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Keyword [en]
international adoption, Korea
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22092OAI: diva2:188619
Available from: 2006-04-09 Created: 2006-04-09Bibliographically approved

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