From Orphan, to Citizen, to Transnational Adoptee: The Origins of the U.S.-Colombian Adoption Industry and the Emergence of Adoptee Counternarratives
Haverford College. Department of History
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
Roughly 1.2 million residents of the United States trace their ancestry to Colombia. They constitute one of the largest communities of South Americans in metropolitan areas like New York City and Miami. Accounts of this diasporic group often exclude a relatively small but significant minority: those who came to the U.S through transnational adoption. Likewise in Colombia, children who were adopted abroad and the families who lost them are mostly absent from the national imaginary. No single monograph has covered the history of the adoption of Colombian children by U.S. citizens. This thesis is a project of transnational history that demonstrates how crises of social reproduction in both countries converged to create an adoption industry that continues to send hundreds of Colombian children to the U.S. annually. I contextualize the origins of U.S-Colombian adoptions with the emergence of the National Front regime in Colombia, discourses of population control from the 1960s, and conflict between the state and the Catholic Church over control of the family. I argue that these processes are essential to understanding how like-minded Americans and Colombians created a transnational adoption industry that made Colombian children "adoptable" for tens of thousands of U.S. adoptive parents over the last 50 years.