Global families, global inequalities: The politics of relinquishment and reunion in transnational adoption. Perspectives of first families, adoption intermediaries and anti-adoption activists in Andean Bolivia

01 October 2017 → 31 January 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Area studies
    • Social and cultural anthropology
    • Radical and critical sociology, feminist studies
    • Social change
parenthood kinship Andes adoption English Spanish Field research 20th Century Contemporary child relinquishment Andean studies Critical adoption studies Family studies Feminist theory Indigenous studies Kinship studies Latin American studies Postcolonial studies Subaltern studies South America Gender Interculturalism Ethics and morality
Project description

The research aims to investigate the transnational adoption of children from the perspectives of actors in ‘sending’ countries. These perspectives have received insufficient attention in adoption research so far, leaving a major gap in our understanding of the complexities and social mechanisms that structure transnational adoption. Through an empirical study in the cities of La Paz and El Alto in Bolivia, this study seeks to investigate the social, economic and cultural contexts that shape practices of child relinquishment and reunion between children and their first families. Drawing on participant observation and interviews with first families, local adoption intermediaries and anti-adoption activists, the study aims to provide greater insight into the circumstances, ideologies, and power dynamics that shape decisions about child relinquishment and into the gendered, classed, and raced narratives of mothering, kinship, and families that are played out in transnational adoption policy and practice. A more profound understanding of how transnational adoption is enacted and understood in the local contexts of 'sending' countries, is particularly important in light of the growing global criticism that blames the transnational adoption system for prioritizing the interests of ‘receiving’ countries.