Here's an interesting academic paper on international adoption, A Critical and Theoretical Analysis of International Adoption of Vulnerable Children: The Commodification of Children? It was presented in 2009 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
This paragraph, at pp. 4-5, seems to encapsulate what the article is about:
This research seeks to conduct a theoretical analysis that tests two competing explanations of international adoption: a functionalist model, and a critical and conflict-oriented model. According to a functionalist model, international adoption practices may be explained as a response to need: need of children, need of families, and need of societies to provide structuresfor altruistic transfer of children for purposes of building families and providing care and opportunities to needy children. It is hypothesized that, although most research on internationaladoption practices is focused on individual outcomes and is atheoretical or theory-weak (Engel et al 2007), the functionalist model is the dominant implicit explanation of international adoptionpractices in lay consciousness, the views of experts of children’s rights, international policy, andacademic literatures. In contrast, according to a critical and conflict-oriented model, the roles ofpower, profit and poverty are fundamental in facilitating and reinforcing current institutionalized practices of inter-country adoption. These literatures are more peripheral (e.g. Fonseca, unpublished manuscript). From this perspective, ideology about adoption legitimates and reinforces the social systems of international adoption, discourages interrogation of structural features of the systems that benefit specific groups within and outside of the sending country, and inhibits consideration of the implications of global inequality for the welfare of poor children.