In Their Best Interests

Diplomacy, Ethics, and Competition in the French World of Adoption

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Sébastien Roux CNRS, France

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The international circulation of children requires a multiplicity of interventions. 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 following 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. Based on a multi-site field study, 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 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.

Contributor Notes

Sébastien Roux est sociologue au CNRS. Ses premiers travaux portaient sur le tourisme sexuel et la circulation internationale des personnes et des causes; il a notamment publié No Money, No Honey: Économies intimes du tourisme sexuel en Thaïlande (La Découverte, 2011). Il a ensuite enquêté sur le traitement judiciaire des mineur·e·s en France, et coécrit Juger, réprimer, accompagner: Essai sur la morale de l'État (Seuil, 2013). Il termine actuellement une recherche de plusieurs années sur l'adoption internationale, et a récemment dirigé avec Anne Sophie Vozari Familles: nouvelle génération (PUF, 2020).

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