This article takes a political economy approach to intercountry adoption (ICA) as a global system to consider how children’s well-being is often at the center of essential development questions in sometimes contradictory ways that are masked by the depoliticizing sentimentality applied to children. A reconsideration of ICA as social reproduction rather than child rescue also decenters development studies’ tendency to reduce development to problems in the global South. Instead, I highlight how ICA as an ostensibly humanitarian intervention also has much to do with crises of social reproduction in the global North. It is therefore important for development studies to critically question underlying assumptions and practices in discourses about ‘giving children a better life’.

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Keywords social development, human development, children’s well-being, commodification, humanitarianism, intercountry adoption, political economy of childhood, social reproduction, development
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1057/ejdr.2013.64, hdl.handle.net/1765/77731
Journal The European Journal of Development Research
Cheney, K.E. (2014). Giving children a ‘better life’? Reconsidering social reproduction and humanitarianism in intercountry adoption. The European Journal of Development Research, 26, 247–263. doi:10.1057/ejdr.2013.64