Monday, September 13, 2010

Beyond the Global Cabbage Patch

From the History News Network, an interesting piece from Karen Dubinsky, author of Babies Without Borders: Adoption & Migration Across the Americas.  She notes the dichotomy of America's anti-immigrant attitudes and America's number-one ranking in adopting foreign-born children:
The U.S. is currently experiencing paroxysms of immigration anxieties, at the same time as remaining the country with the highest international adoption rate in the world. How do we understand this enthusiastic embrace of the “needy Third World child” with cold shoulder—even cocked rifle—turned towards adults from the same place?


One-dimensional notions of adoption as rescue have combined with very specific modern North American definitions of childhood innocence. This creates a certain wishful “racelessness” when it comes to babies.


Despite the pictures we see on the news or in adoption agency advertising, the world is not a cabbage patch. Babies do not sit alone, removed from parents, neighbours, and communities, waiting for Westerners to rescue them.


It’s easy to be blinded by the dazzling pleasures of child rescue not just because of our investment in sentimental notions of children, but also because we think of children as politically neutral. The separation of children from political citizenship is one of the mainstays of our world. We guard our children’s political innocence the way earlier generations “protected” women from the sordid messiness of voting and such. But a long history of child adoption and migration conflicts show us how inseparably children are attached to adult political worlds.
Dubinsky weaves examples from Cold War era Cuba, modern-day Guatemala, and post-earthquake Haiti to show how adult political ideas are "fought through and for children." Well worth a read.


Von said...

What an excellent post!

윤선 said...

Sorry, I didn't read your whole post 'cause the picture just caught my eye: I used to have that record and OMG!!! HOW TOTALLY NOSTALGIC!!! I listened to it over and over and over again when I was a child!

OK... sorry. Just had to say that and get all excited... =P