Babies without Borders: Adoption and Migration across the Americas

Babies without Borders: Adoption and Migration across the Americas

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by Karen Dubinsky

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2010
Canadian, European, and UK rights
204 Pages
ISBN 9781442610194
Published Mar 2010
Online discount: 25%
 $21.95    $16.46

International adoptions are both high-profile and controversial, with the celebrity adoptions and critically acclaimed movies such as Casa de los babys of recent years increasing media coverage and influencing public opinion. Neither celebrating nor condemning cross-cultural adoption, Karen Dubinsky considers the political symbolism of children in her examination of adoption and migration controversies in North America, Cuba, and Guatemala.

Babies Without Borders tells the interrelated stories of Cuban children caught in Operation Peter Pan, adopted Black and Native American children who became icons in the Sixties, and Guatemalan children whose 'disappearance' today in transnational adoption networks echoes their fate during the country's brutal civil war. Drawing from extensive research as well as from her critical observations as an adoptive parent, Karen Dubinsky aims to move adoption debates beyond the current dichotomy of 'imperialist kidnap' versus 'humanitarian rescue.' Integrating the personal with the scholarly, Babies Without Borders exposes what happens when children bear the weight of adult political conflicts.

Karen Dubinsky is a professor in the Department of Global Development Studies and the Department of History at Queen's University.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Children and the Stories We Tell About Them

Chapter 2: The National Baby: Creating Monumental Children
From Operation Peter Pan to Elian Gonzalez

Chapter 3: The Hybrid Baby: Domestic Interracial Adoption
Since the 1950s

Chapter 4: The Missing Baby: Transnational Adoption and
The Vanishing Children of Guatemala

Chapter 5: Conclusion: Setting the Agenda for a
Happy Childhood

Selected Bibliography

'By making children the subject of her research, Dubinsky has provided original insight into the moral premises by which power is exercised and experienced. To approach children as highly-prized objects within paradigms of transnational privilege-the continuation of politics by other means-is to expose in the most intimate of settings the ways that the powerful and the powerless are drawn together into an inexorable relationship with one another, with all too predictable outcomes. This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking work of exemplary scholarship.'

Louis A. Perez, Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

'Deeply researched, beautifully written, and brimming with insight, Babies Without Borders illustrates how profoundly narratives about rescuing and stealing children have distorted our understanding of international adoption throughout its history. From Cuba and Canada to Guatemala, babies caught up in the wars, refugee migrations, and other global calamities of the past half-century have paid a very high price for the privilege of serving as symbols of national pride, vulnerability, and destiny. Dubinsky refreshingly shifts our attention from Asia to Latin America, insists on telling stories from both sides of the border, and offers compelling evidence for the view that international power is inextricably linked to some of the most intimate experiences of family life—including her own.'

Ellen Herman, University of Oregon