The New Abolition: Ending Adoption in Our Time

The discussion of adoption is stuck in morass of dueling narratives vying for importance. Purposefully overlooked are the historical, economic, and political underpinnings of adoption, and how adoption narratives and the way they are mediated are manifestations of these.


And so adoption’s historical shift and elevation to a method of family creation is thus inherently premised wholly upon the rise of the United States as an imperial power in the years following World War II. In terms of empire, it replaced an exhausted Britain, and surpassed the now defeated Europe and Japan, with the children of these places seen as additional spoils of war, and setting the standard of such child-mining for the coming wars in Korea, Viet Nam, South America, etc. What transpired on the macro level of politics and diplomacy resonates psychologically speaking in our own treatment as adoptees.

The act of adoption is thus a crucible of the culture’s view of humanity, namely, an infinite population of “wretched refuse” awaiting salvation from an exceptionalist nation. That adoption so clearly fits into this imperial mythology is witnessed by its exaltation within every part of the empire’s power structure. The legal, governmental, social, cultural, medical, religious, and mediated realms all assume adoption as the status quo, and all adapt themselves to facilitate and justify its predominant use at the expense of all other prevailing notions of rights and ethics.

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About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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3 Responses to The New Abolition: Ending Adoption in Our Time

  1. heatherrainbow says:

    Hi Daniel,

    My friend Joan tells me about how incredibly awesome you are. Right now, I’m in the process of writing a book. I let her read the introduction, and she said it reminded her of things that you say. The premise of my book is that the social and political reasons for adoption are hidden, since adoption records are sealed. Most people assume that adoption happens outside of the context of political and social movements. It is my premise that adoption happens as a result. Living in a fascist government, for example, easily equates to all things being commodities, including children. Another premise I have, is that “explorers” who “discovered” North America (Turtle Island), were soldiers ie slaves who had left their masters to become masters, continuing the cycle of all forms of abuse. I’m currently using the following books as timeline entries:
    Georgia Tann, the woman who corrupted adoption by Barbara Bisantz Raymond
    The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
    Babies Without Borders: Rescue, Kidnap, and the Symbolic Child by Karen Dubinsky.
    If you have other books for recommendation, feel free to let me know.


  2. Hi Heather—thanks for the nice words. Because of the monolithic nature of the adoption industry, and the de facto acceptance of adoption as the status quo and starting point for these discussions, it is really hard to find books that really get at the base economic and political causes of adoption. One need not necessarily live in a fascist environment for children to become commodities, for example. I argue that globalizing capitalism and imperialism are more than enough to get this ball rolling….

    Many of the academic treatises on the subject are written in a pointless and toothless post-modern voice that removes all agency from those discussed in the so-called “triad”, and they leave out entirely those they consider invalid in terms of humanity: Source families and communities. This is why I’ve turned back to reference material that speaks obliquely about adoption: anti-colonialism, liberation theologies, material on racism and classism, which brings these voices to the fore.

    The book International Adoption: Global Inequalities and the Circulation of Children is a good reference that will give you plenty of other research possibilities. Winona LaDuke’s Recovering the Sacred might give you the tangential material to make a comparison with in terms of indigenous peoples of the Americas. Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine and Samir Amin’s The Liberal Virus make similar cases concerning globalizing economic and political processes that are quite easy to then shift to the trafficking of children.

    Good luck with your book—keep us posted as to its progress!

  3. heatherrainbow says:

    I’ll definitely check out those books. Thanks~

    And keep writing! :)

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