Author's notes: Support for this research provided through a University of North Texas (UNT) Research Enabling Grant (REG) is gratefully acknowledged.
Samaritans, Family Builders, and the Politics of Intercountry Adoption†
Article first published online: 22 JUN 2013
© 2013 International Studies Association
International Studies Perspectives
Special Issue: Feminism in International Relations
Volume 14, Issue 4, pages 417–435, November 2013
How to Cite
2013) Samaritans, Family Builders, and the Politics of Intercountry Adoption. International Studies Perspectives, doi: 10.1111/insp.12016 © 2013 International Studies Association. (
- Issue published online: 18 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 22 JUN 2013
- University of North Texas (UNT) Research Enabling Grant (REG)
- intercountry adoption;
Critics of intercountry adoption define it as a demand-driven market for babies, from which parents in rich countries benefit at the expense of those in poor countries. Advocates hold that it often provides the best chance for orphaned children to grow up in a family. This paper investigates these opposing claims. It develops a theory that outlines the circumstances under which intercountry adoption is likely to result in a “baby trade,” and evaluates expectations derived from that theory on the basis of data on adoptions to the United States. The findings suggest that sending countries with large and fast-growing adoption programs may be particularly vulnerable to the temptation to supply a demand-driven market. However, sending countries do not simply respond to international incentives. Instead, the variation in participation in intercountry adoption between sending countries is partially driven by domestic incentives. The paper ends with suggestions for future research and policy.