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In Their Best Interests. Diplomacy, Ethics, and Competition in The French World of Adoption

Abstract : The international circulation of children today requires a multiplicity of interventions, made all the more complex as adoptive flows must respect the ethical standards defined by the Hague Convention (1993), and be realized in the context of a drastic contraction of the migration of children for adoptive purposes. For a dozen years, the French government has been trying to follow a partially contradictory double imperative: the moral respect of universal principles enacted by international treaties, and the political maintenance of France among the adoptive “great nations” that are able to favor its nationals. To meet this challenge, several institutions have been created: a service of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs; a plenipotentiary Ambassador for International Adoption; a network of international volunteers posted abroad; and a dedicated French Adoption Agency (AFA), which is supposed to guarantee “public access” to international adoption services for putative French parents. Based on a multi-site field study conducted since 2013, this contribution aims to shed light on the architecture, discourse, and actions of these “adoptive public agents.” Drawing on interviews and observations conducted in France and abroad, this article describes how these bureaucrats act in practice to create French adoptive families, at the blurred and troubled intersection between the promotion of universal children’s rights and the favoring of French national interests.
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Contributor : Sébastien Roux <>
Submitted on : Monday, September 14, 2020 - 11:32:37 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 11:02:50 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 3:42:57 AM


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Sébastien Roux. In Their Best Interests. Diplomacy, Ethics, and Competition in The French World of Adoption. French Politics, Culture & Society, Berghahn, 2020, 38 (3), pp.64-85. ⟨halshs-02516855⟩



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