Adoption Dialogues

Last week I attended the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Annual Conference, Creating Change. It was a really interesting week, with tons of panels and workshops on a wide range of issues. I was a little bit disappointed to see the lack of workshops on the topic of family creation.I would think that for the LGBT community how we create our families (and what related rights we have) would be of the utmost importance. Part of this absence may have been a backlash to the many marriage-only conversations that occur in gay activism as well. But there are a wide range of topics that I think could be important to the LGBT community around family creation. For example, surrogacy, adoption, do-it-yourself inseminations and coparenting with non-romantic partners.

I did attend one workshop that focused on the issue of intercountry adoption, and I wanted to share some of the issues brought up in that workshop with all of you. Pauline Park facilitated the workshop, a woman who is herself a korean transnational adoptee.

The topic brought up some interesting discussion. I learned that the history of intercountry adoption began after the Korean War, when Christian missionaries set up shop in Korea and facilitated the adoption of Korean children by white Christian parents from the US. This process had its roots in the ideology of salvation, that these families were saving the Korean children (as well as showing them the way of Christ). Since those days the international adoption market (as some people would call it) has exploded, and children are adopted from a wide array of countries, including most popularly China, Guatemala and Russia.

Some questions posed by this issue:

–What kind of regulations should be put in place to regulate this market? Is it the responsibility of the adoptive parents country or the childrens?

–Is it okay for this to be (in some cases) a for-profit industry? If so, who should be making the money? The birth parents or the adoption agencies?

–What about the cultural competence of the parents? How can we ensure that the (mostly white) parents will be able to raise the child in a way that recognizes their background?

–What about race?

–What about the rights of the birth parents? Are the women giving up their children in these developing countries really given a choice? Or are the economic circumstances overly influencing that choice?

–What about abortion? For many anti-choice people, adoption is seen as the perfect alternative to abortion. Is it really?

–And finally, what about the desires of some people to become parents, in many cases without the “biological option”?

I unfortunately don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but here is a great piece by Elizabeth Larson in Mother Jones which grapples with some of these important issues from a personal perspective. It’s called Did I Steal My Daughter? The Tribulations of Global Adoption.


2 thoughts on “Adoption Dialogues

  1. imtina February 18, 2008 / 12:57 am

    These are great questions to be asking. They are insightful and thoughtful questions. That the gay and lesbian community ( a large group of potential prospective adoptive parents ) from what I’ve seen has overwhelmingly shown sensitivity to the larger issues involved in adoption and surrogacy. The more adoptive parent blogs I see, the more I see how much the typical, heterosexual, traditionally married (not to mention Christian) people could learn from this kind of openness that I read here in this post. Thank you for linking to Elizabeth Larson’s article which is a wonderful article for anyone to read about international adoption.


  2. femdujour April 12, 2008 / 5:21 pm

    i have a fabulous prof from my grad studies in hist at queen’s univeristy named karen dubinsky who is currently writing a book on transnational adoption. she is absolutely wonderful and this book will be a fascinating read. it should be published in the coming year, so keep an eye out for it!

    she and her partner had adopted a boy from guatemala, so this writing project grew out of contemplations of her own experience with transnational adoption — both into a same-sex-parented family and across racial/post-colonial boundaries.

    that name again is karen dubinsky. and she rocks my socks.

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