First Advisor

Kimberley Brown

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Applied Linguistics and University Honors


Applied Linguistics


Intercountry adoption -- United States, Intercountry adoption -- Corrupt practices, Interracial adoption -- United States, Adoption -- Social aspects, Child trafficking




In the United States there exists as part of the institution of international adoption a hegemony of “saving” orphans from developing or economically devastated nations. This hegemony is a factor contributing to an adoption “market” in orphans, leading to incidences of the trafficking of children as part of the intercountry adoption system. This study's purposes are thus twofold. First it is a preliminary attempt within the academic realm to determine the emergence of this hegemony by delineating the US history of intercountry adoption from its origins in the mid-1940s as a response to humanitarian crises, to its current status as a market commodifying children from developing and economically devastated countries. Secondly it is to assess the institution of international adoption as it relates to the concept of structural violence via case studies of child trafficking. The conclusion of this study suggests that until intercountry adoption is recognized as a form of structural violence against children and families in developing nations to serve the current hegemony in the United States of adoptive saviordom, instances of intercountry child trafficking will continue to persist.


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An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in University Honors and Applied Linguistics, Arts & Letters, and Liberal Studies.

© 2014 Vanessa Virgiel

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