Shortly after coming to power in Britain, the Conservative–Liberal Democratic alliance placed family life at the heart of their political agenda, and set out their plans to reform adoption. The paper draws upon debates about the reforms and considers them in articulation with concerns about health of the nation expressed in political pronouncements on ‘broken Britain’ and the failures of ‘state multiculturalism’. The paper considers the debates about domestic (transracial) and intercountry adoption, and uses feminist postcolonial perspectives to argue that we can only understand what are expressed as national issues within a transnational and postcolonial framework which illuminate the processes of state and institutional race-making. The paper analyses three key instances of biopower and governmentality in the adoption debates: the population, the normalizing family and the individual. The paper argues that we need to understand the reforms as part of a wider concern with the ‘problem’ of multicultural belonging, and that the interlocking discourses of nation, family and identities are crucial to the constitution and regulation of gendered, racialized subjects.