Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Utah Law Review

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

Every year, almost one million baby girls are “missing” in China. These are the babies predicted to be girls who never appear in national registries. In 2000, more than 5000 baby girls born in China were adopted by U.S. parents and emigrated to the United States. This Article examines the forces that drive adoptions of children from the world's most populous country to its richest from the perspectives of the participants. It analyzes the Chinese, United States, and international laws -- and the violation of these laws -- that make this migration possible.

The story is told from three perspectives: the birth mother's, the adoptive parents', and the adoptee's. The tale is thrice-told for several reasons. First, these stories are separated by space and time, and told not only in different voices, but in different languages. Separate tellings highlight the very different contexts that shape these stories and give them meaning. Second, it is thrice-told to show why any single telling is necessarily partial, incomplete, from a legal standpoint. Multiple laws apply here in a wide range of complicated contexts, often with unanticipated consequences. Multiple tellings destabilize and problematize our understanding of the law. Third, and finally, multiple tellings show how each story is deliberately constructed by state and non-state actors to serve multiple, often conflicting, personal and political purposes. Multiple tellings also expose the ways in which legal rhetoric shapes stories and the shape-shifting qualities of the rhetoric itself. This includes the ways in which the needs of the present shape our understanding of the past.

Share

COinS