Pain, Loss, and Harm in Transnational Adoption: Implications for Maternal Practice

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Loss is frequently addressed in the adoption literature and adoptee memoirs often relate stories full of pain. But there's little or no discussion of harm and no discussion of the relation among the three. In this paper I develop a philosophical account of the nature of the harms associated with transnational adoption, focusing on S. Korean adoption in particular. While some harms are intrinsic to transnational adoption and others are best addressed by changes in international and domestic laws, my aim is to identify and describe those harms that are at least in part the result of a failure of adoptive maternal practice. By developing this account of harm, my goal is to provide the normative basis for grounding an account of the goals of trans(national/racial) adoptive maternal practice.
In this paper I argue that often the needs of adoptees run counter to the interests/wishes/desires of adoptive parents. This mismatch surely is partially responsible for the harms that adoptees experience and complicates the process of motivating adoptive parents to develop more effective childrearing practices. Hopefully, developing a clearer account of the nature of these harms, coupled with a description of the goals of trans(national/racial) adoptive maternal practice, will help address this problem.


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