The quest for the a child of one's own: parents, markets and transnational adoption

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Transnational adoption is currently at its peak. The direction of these adoptions is from south to north and from east to west. Scrutiny of previous research shows that there is a discrepancy between the supply and demand of children for adoption. While there are millions of orphans and children in the world needing homes, Western adoptive parents queue for what are considered to be 'adoptable' children. Drawing on 15 thematic interviews with Finnish adoptive parents this article considers the reasons behind the recent trend to adopt from abroad, and how parental preferences are formed in individual families. It is shown that adopting is primarily connected to family formation, and is linked to a powerful desire to experience parenthood. Parental preferences are a function of the changing demands and expectations of parenting in general in the West. Adoption from abroad just provides a new way of fulfilling these expectations. The ideal child is a healthy female infant of European or Asian origin that allows the adoptive parents to fulfil and perform their ideal parental roles. On the global level parents' hopes and anxieties result in the stratification of children in transnational adoption by age, skin colour, health and gender, further escalating the discrepancy between demand and supply.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)311-330
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 514 Sociology
  • kansainvälinen adoptio
  • vanhemmat
  • vanhemmuus
  • lapset
  • ottolapset
  • perhe
  • perheet
  • tutkimus

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