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Somebody's Children: The Politics of…
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Somebody's Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational…

by Laura Briggs

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This is a worthy addition to the growing field of literature that examines political, economic, social, and cultural shifts through the lens of adoption. Despite the fact that adopted people make up a small percentage of the U.S. population, ideas about adoption are nonetheless intricately intertwined with ideas about race, class, gender, and sexuality. Rather than focusing on the children themselves, Briggs instead explores the forces that converge to make non-white children vulnerable to removal and subsequent adoption. She locates these forces in the historical social relationships created by racial and economic institution of slavery, the political colonization of Indian families and their children, and the recent shift to neo-liberalism as a factor in the commodification of non-U.S. children. Finally, Briggs includes an analysis of cultural factors that determined which parents would be deemed acceptable as adoptive or foster parents through a chapter devoted to the idea of gay adoption and marriage.

This book is clearly argued and stays tightly focused on its subject matter and major arguments. The style is readable [and at times a little bit sarcastic] and the author makes no assumptions that readers are familiar with prior adoption literature or broader trends, making it very accessible to readers. Its a well researched work and incorporates a number of primary archival sources and scholarly monographs, as well as popular news sources. Its a welcome complement to the current body of adoption literature. ( )
  lisamunro | Oct 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0822351617, Paperback)

In Somebody's Children, Laura Briggs examines the social and cultural forces—poverty, racism, economic inequality, and political violence—that have shaped transracial and transnational adoption in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. Focusing particularly on the experiences of those who have lost their children to adoption, Briggs analyzes the circumstances under which African American and Native mothers in the United States and indigenous and poor women in Latin America have felt pressed to give up their children for adoption or have lost them involuntarily.

The dramatic expansion of transracial and transnational adoption since the 1950s, Briggs argues, was the result of specific and profound political and social changes, including the large-scale removal of Native children from their parents, the condemnation of single African American mothers in the context of the civil rights struggle, and the largely invented "crack babies" scare that inaugurated the dramatic withdrawal of benefits to poor mothers in the United States. In Guatemala, El Salvador, and Argentina, governments disappeared children during the Cold War and then imposed neoliberal economic regimes with U.S. support, making the circulation of children across national borders easy and often profitable. Concluding with an assessment of present-day controversies surrounding gay and lesbian adoptions and the struggles of immigrants fearful of losing their children to foster care, Briggs challenges celebratory or otherwise simplistic accounts of transracial and transnational adoption by revealing some of their unacknowledged causes and costs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:37 -0400)

Overview: In Somebody's Children, Laura Briggs examines the social and cultural forces-poverty, racism, economic inequality, and political violence-that have shaped transracial and transnational adoption in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. Focusing particularly on the experiences of those who have lost their children to adoption, Briggs analyzes the circumstances under which African American and Native mothers in the United States and indigenous and poor women in Latin America have felt pressed to give up their children for adoption or have lost them involuntarily. The dramatic expansion of transracial and transnational adoption since the 1950s, Briggs argues, was the result of specific and profound political and social changes, including the large-scale removal of Native children from their parents, the condemnation of single African American mothers in the context of the civil rights struggle, and the largely invented "crack babies" scare that inaugurated the dramatic withdrawal of benefits to poor mothers in the United States. In Guatemala, El Salvador, and Argentina, governments disappeared children during the Cold War and then imposed neoliberal economic regimes with U.S. support, making the circulation of children across national borders easy and often profitable. Concluding with an assessment of present-day controversies surrounding gay and lesbian adoptions and the struggles of immigrants fearful of losing their children to foster care, Briggs challenges celebratory or otherwise simplistic accounts of transracial and transnational adoption by revealing some of their unacknowledged causes and costs.… (more)

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