International Adoption from an Anthropological Demography Perspective: Growing Families or Adding Migrants?

Jessaca Leinaweaver, Brown University

Migration is the dominant frame that demographers use to understand international adoption. More recently an alternative interpretation has been suggested: that international adoption needs to be understood through a fertility framework. Qualitative data collected through ethnographic fieldwork sheds further light on this debate. I draw on data from my ethnographic fieldwork with Spanish families who have adopted Peruvian children, in order to suggest that international adoption is actually both. International adoption is indeed closely related to fertility concerns, as it adds people to families and populations. But it is also a unique form of immigration in that it produces a minority category within a majority population. I illustrate how an anthropological demography of adoption can be useful food for thought for demographers working on a wide range of issues, particularly migration, a theoretical concept which adoption demonstrates to be surprisingly complex.

  See paper

Presented in Session 4: Children in Diverse Living Arrangements