Found Image: Removing 'obstacles' to economic development 1960s-1970s

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November 24, 2018

Critical Commentary

Substantive Caption: Although dominant adoption rhetoric has often framed the practice of adoption as charitable, I am interested in examining the way that international adoption operates within the global flow of capital. In the case of this graph, it is clear to see that international adoption brought in much needed foreign capital at a time when the country was undergoing rapid economic development. Not only did international adoption become a profitable industry within the country, it also spared the South Korean government from needing to create a social welfare structure to support vulnerable children and families. In other words, the “siphoning overseas of ‘surplus’ and ‘unwanted’ children allowed South Korea to direct most of its resources to national security and economic development” (Oh 2015, 195). To date, the South Korean government continues to have one of the lowest levels of social welfare spending of any OECD country. 

Design Statement: Although dominant adoption rhetoric has often framed the practice of adoption as charitable, I am interested in examining the way that international adoption operates within the global flow of capital. In the case of this graph, it is clear to see that international adoption brought in much needed foreign capital at a time when the country was undergoing rapid economic development. Not only did international adoption become a profitable industry within the country, it also spared the South Korean government from needing to create a social welfare structure to support vulnerable children and families. In other words, the “siphoning overseas of ‘surplus’ and ‘unwanted’ children allowed South Korea to direct most of its resources to national security and economic development” (Oh 2015, 195). To date, the South Korean government continues to have one of the lowest levels of social welfare spending of any OECD country. 


Source: Oh, Arissa H. 2015. To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption. Stanford University Press.