Commodification and Adoption
Routledge Commodification Handbook (Vida Panitch & Elodie Bertrand eds., forthcoming 2022)
17 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2022
Date Written: September 28, 2022
This chapter discusses the well-known dangers of commodification in adoption as well as the positive role of payments in adoption for legal, medical, and social work professionals, to birth parents for expenses such as psychotherapy, maternity clothes and living expenses, and state subsidies that enable people to adopt children out of foster care. The chapter also explores non-monetary but immensely valuable exchanges such as birth parents shopping catalogs of adoptive parents and securing adoptive parents’ agreements regarding child-raising. More long term adoption contracts known as post-adoption-contact-agreements (PACAs) structure open adoption, providing for continuing contact between birth families and the children through, for example, email, letters, pictures, and even in-person visitation. The chapter suggests that a metaphor of “Mosaic” best captures the fact that adoption contracts can be either exploitative or welfare-enhancing. That view echoes commodification literature that debunks the two-dimensional “Hostile Worlds” and “Nothing But” views of contested commodities by replacing the extreme options of market-inalienability and complete commodification with a more nuanced focus on who controls and benefits from contracts in adoption. A “Mosaic” theory of commodification in adoption would support bans on outright baby-selling and also allow courts to enforce PACAs and other welfare-enhancing adoption contracts.
Keywords: baby-selling, commodification, adoption, PACA, mosaic theory, hostile worlds, markets, caregiving, parental rights, economics of adoption
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