EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


Exploring change and continuity: readjustment, identity and child mobility in an interconnected world

Location M-133
Date and Start Time 03 August, 2014 at 09:00


Jorge Grau Rebollo (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) email
Julia Vich-Bertran (Maastricht University) email
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Short Abstract

This panel aims to analyze old and new forms of child mobility (International adoption, informal circulation...) in today's interconnected world. We will discuss case studies that pose intellectual and political challenges concerning readjustment and the re-shaping of identities at different levels.

Long Abstract

Within the last decades, International Adoption has become a major issue in academic and political agendas. Not only due to the increasingly numbers of formalized adoption transfers between different countries, but also because of related geopolitical, intellectual and ethical implications. Thus, Transnational Adoptive Programs (TAPs) should not be analyzed just as linear chains that transfer children from a sending country to a receiving one, while transferring ideas/economic resources in the other direction as Howell (2006) proposes. Rather, specific sets of meanings, material and affective resources, and social practices circulate in both directions between sending and receiving countries, generating social and cultural change. This ongoing process of mutual readjustment does not just impact on particular individuals, but has much wider social and cultural repercussions such as the unique net of socio-cultural constructions that shape, consolidate, promote and transform a concrete TAP, or the impact that all those images have on the identity formation of young adoptees (Vich-Bertran, 2010).

This panel wishes to debate such connections, challenges and innovative ways by addressing questions as the role of representation and new digital media in conforming extended communities, Internet-based dual / group communication facilitating contacts over the distance, or the centrality of child mobility as a part of transnational relationships between countries and individuals.

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Care-giving systems and parental roles in the transnational adoptive context: a study on personal and community networks for rearing adopted children in Spain

Authors: Julia Vich-Bertran (Maastricht University)  email
Jorge Grau Rebollo (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email

Short Abstract

Focusing on Spain, the second world's adoptive country between 2000-2009, our research draws on qualitative methodology as well as systematic network approach in order to describe the structure and function of transnational adoptive parents' care-giving support networks.

Long Abstract

The study on how personal and community networks shape child-rearing practices and vice-versa demands further academic attention in the adoption literature. Spain became the second world's adoptive country (first one in relative numbers) between 2000-2009 (Selman, 2012) and this phenomenon has stimulated a considerable amount of research delving into nearly every aspect of the adoptees' and their adoptive families experiences. These studies have been broadly dominated by disciplines such as developmental psychology that inquire into the adaptation, acculturation, racial/ethnic/cultural identity formation and mental health of adoptees post-adoption. Thus, while there has been much research on the social contextual variables that influence the child's adaptation and development once s/he becomes part of his/her adoptive family, little attention has been paid on the ways that care-giving networks are associated with child rearing and parenting in the context of adoption. In order to bridge this gap and focusing on the Spanish case, our research draws on qualitative methodology as well as systematic personal network approach in order to describe the structure and function of transnational adoptive parents' care-giving support networks. In this presentation we want to unveil the preliminary results obtained in our research with Spanish transnational adoptive families in order to answer this question: how do adoptive families organize and find the information, resources and support needed within their set of personal and social connections to provide a nurturing relationship and an optimal environment that will encourage their adopted children's healthy growth and development?

Connections, reconnections and travels of the imagination in a context of international adoption

Author: Giovanna Bacchiddu (Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Chile)  email

Short Abstract

This paper deals with a case of international adoption and it specifically investigates the re-connections established between children adopted in Italy and their Chilean biological families decades after the adoption, and the emotional and practical implications such encounters have for both sides.

Long Abstract

A substantial group of Chilean children, adopted in Sardinia three to four decades ago, face the pressing necessity to interact with their natural mothers, asking questions and looking for their motivations behind their abandonment. Decades after their adoption, several individuals managed to locate and contact some members of their biological family in Chile. Whether by email, social networks, Skype or telephone, the contacts grew into a relation, including more individuals and establishing networks of affection. Gifts are sent back and forth via travellers to Chile and Italy, and belongings change owner, embodying and materialising love, and reaffirming ties between family members separated shortly after birth. Distance, and the history of separation, encourage and nourish fantasies and expectations about distant but closely related individuals on both sides.

When some of them manage to return to Chile for a visit, and to meet their biological mothers and families, imagination meets reality and both adoptees and biological families find themselves reworking their emotional world to accommodate unexpected and unimagined discoveries.

This paper explores the dynamics of reconnections and the subsequent emotional and practical readjustments amongst those cases of international adoptions that have been successful in reuniting separated family members (mothers, children, siblings, other relatives).

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