Addicted to Orphans: How the Global Orphan Industrial Complex Jeopardizes Local Child Protection Systems

  • Kristen E. CheneyEmail author
  • Karen Smith Rotabi
Living reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 11)


While many scholars and activists from multiple disciplines have reported on various aspects of orphan policy and the international adoption industry, there has been little synthesis of this information and its implications for global child protection. This chapter therefore puts the pieces together to argue that the misidentification of “orphans” as a category for development and humanitarian intervention has subsequently been misappropriated by many Western individuals and charitable organizations. Promoting a discourse of orphan rescue, they foster the growth of an “orphan industrial complex.” In developing countries like Guatemala and Uganda whose children are targeted for “rescue,” the discourse and practice of “orphan rescue” is subsequently jeopardizing child protection and even driving the “production” of orphans as objects for particular kinds of intervention-counter to established international standards of child protection.


International adoption Child protection Orphans Humanitarian intervention Orphan rescue Orphan industrial complex Guatemala Uganda 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute of Social StudiesErasmus University RotterdamThe HagueNetherlands
  2. 2.United Arab Emirates UniversityAl AinUnited Arab Emirates

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