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Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Anthropology

Supervisor

Ellen Badone

Language

English

Committee Member

Karen Balcom, Wayne Warry

Abstract

The adoption of children across international borders has emerged as an important cultural phenomenon. It shapes the way North Americans understand families, and forms relationships between sending and receiving countries. This dissertation explores the transnational adoption of children between Canada and China with a focus on the subjective experiences of Canadian women who have adopted children from China, their dreams, motivations and lived experiences of becoming an adoptive mother. Highlighting these narratives, this dissertation serves to balance critique with advocacy, and complicates the binary opposition in both scholarly and popular culture presentations of transnational adoption as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The dissertation also explores the social pressures that Canadian women endure and how gender expectations and cultural ideas of femininity depend on a woman experiencing motherhood. Through the window of transnational adoption this dissertation examines discourses about infertility, philanthropy, kinship, gender and the construction of transnational adoption as kidnap or rescue.

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