EDITORIAL Trading in Babies
By So Yung Kim
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2009 CONDUCIVE
I was raised to view everything in terms of how much money something costs. We never wasted food; we never even threw away a rubber band or a paper clip. We wore homemade clothes to make every dollar stretch. These were the values my adoptive family taught me.
A few things my mother always reminded me of: I was chosen, they paid a lot of money to the adoption agency to bring me here plus the price of my airplane ticket, and my life in Korea would have been one of poverty and deprivation.
A few things society always reminded me of: Adoption is a good outcome; severing all ties to birth parents is naturally good; poverty was the main “push” factor in my adoption; my white parents’ desire for children, and their ability to assert that desire in the form of dollars, was the main “pull” factor.
The secret, however, was that the push and pull came from the same side — the side of wealth and capitalism and ruling classes that save on social welfare spending by trading their social castaways on a vast and vibrant market.
Surrounding the adoption industry is a protective cocoon intricately spun by agency PR machines, humanitarian aid organizations, and governments that provide tax subsidies for families adopting children. For example, the United States offers adoption tax credits of up to $12,150 per domestic or internationally adopted child, and several individual states provide additional credits or deductions to offset adoption expenses. On the international market, adoption travel and tourism agencies promote a seamless shopping experience for wealthy Westerners seeking healthy foreign infants. They maximize profits by offering pre-adoption, adoption, and post-adoption homeland or heritage trips. One agency even claims to “specialize in international adoption, humanitarian, and missionary travel”.
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