Journal Article

CULTURAL DETERMINANTS OF ADOPTION POLICY: A COLOMBIAN CASE STUDY

SUZANNE HOELGAARD

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 12, issue 2, pages 202-241
Published in print August 1998 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online August 1998 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/12.2.202
CULTURAL DETERMINANTS OF ADOPTION POLICY: A COLOMBIAN CASE STUDY

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This case study focuses on adoption provisions from a developing country perspective. Based on ethnographic fieldwork,1 the study examines Colombian practice from within its legal-administrative context and in relation to the wider socio-cultural system and ethos. The Colombian case serves to illuminate some critical issues surrounding adoption policy today. Modern adoption, which is a fairly recent innovation in Colombia, has been promoted as a preferred method of care for large numbers of children and is marked by its absolute, irrevocable effects and a strong predominance of foreign over local placements. This ‘closed’ model of adoption originating in the West2 has spread to Third World countries generally, but Colombia has imported an extreme version without attuning it to local conditions and adapting to refinements and reforms of modern practice. Colombia, moreover, is a major supplier of children for intercountry adoption, a controversial practice associated with corruption and export of Third World children to the industrialized West. Whilst much attention has focused on regulating illegal practices, little is known about the operation of legitimate services, local provisions and management of children in ‘sending’ countries. My aim here is to provide an empirical account of these provisions and their implications for children and offer a basis for reflection about international adoption beyond the often emotive, ideological, and decontextualized argumentation surrounding this issue.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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