Global Families, Inequality and Transnational Adoption

The De-Kinning of First Mothers

  • Riitta Högbacka

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Riitta Högbacka
    Pages 1-31
  3. Riitta Högbacka
    Pages 119-153
  4. Riitta Högbacka
    Pages 181-213
  5. Riitta Högbacka
    Pages 215-230
  6. Riitta Högbacka
    Pages 231-244
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 245-282

About this book


This book looks at the simultaneous processes of making and un-making of families that are part of the adoption practice. Whereas most studies on transnational adoption concentrate on the adoptive family, the author identifies not only the happy occasion when a family gains a child, but also the sorrow and loss of the child to its family of origin. Situating transnational adoption in the context of the Global North-South divide, Högbacka investigates the devastating effects of unequal life chances and asymmetrical power relations on the adoption process and on the mothers whose children are adopted.

Based on unique primary material gathered in in-depth interviews with South African families of origin and Finnish adoptive families, the book investigates the decision-making processes of both sets of parents and the encounters between them. The first mothers’ narratives are juxtaposed with those of the adopters and of the adoption social workers who act on the principles of the wider adoption system. Concluding with a critique of the Global Northism that exemplifies current practices, Högbacka sketches the contours of a more just approach to transnational adoption that would shatter rather than perpetuate inequality. The book can also be read as an exposé of the consequences of current inequalities for poor families.

Global Families, Inequality and Transnational Adoption will be of interest to students and scholars of adoption studies, family and kinship, sociology, anthropology, social work and development.



childhood children birthmothers adoptive parents Finland South Africa inequality globalisation Global South Global north Europe adoption family social science sociology

Authors and affiliations

  • Riitta Högbacka
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HelsinkiFinland

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-1-137-52474-4
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-52476-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site