Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Industry of Asian Babies

Carol Lloyd over at Broadsheet has an excellent post about the dark side of international adoption. The conventional wisdom is that white middle- and upper-class parents having their own babies is a bit selfish in the age of inner-city and internationally disadvantaged kids, while selfless parents who bring these children into their homes are brightening futures that might otherwise be bleak. However, the thing that no potential parent likes to think about is that adoption has become an industry.

Especially in the age of globalization, adopting a baby from China is much like buying any consumer product made there: You often have no idea of what happed before it (or in this case, little he or she) got to you. What's more, getting babies from cut-rate places in Asia doesn't exactly encourage people in the country to take care them. It may actually be viewed as exporting a problem or a profitable industry. Profitable industries do better when they cut costs. Cutting costs can even include encouraging births to single mothers to create more babies to export.

Okay, this may be (a bit of) an exaggeration, but the point is that rather than encouraging human rights in countries, we are actually sort of encouraging the opposite. The struggle for universal human rights is a long one, but this is a good counter-intuitive way of thinking about your typical do-gooder attitude: I will do good, therefore, the people who are in charge of making sure that everyone is doing okay doesn't have to take care of the problem.

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