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Professor's research of intercountry adoption hits close to home

Marijke Breuning, professor of political science, is contributing writer for Faculty Perspectives, an online column for UNT faculty to share views related to their area of expertise. In her piece, Following an Unpaved Road to a New Research Agenda, Breuning writes about the politics of intercountry adoption. Breuning brings expertise in foreign policy decision making, with a specific interest in development cooperation and small states, as well as the politics of intercountry adoption.

Dr. Marijke Breuning stands with village children, Kumbursa, EthiopiaThe politics of orphans and intercountry adoption is an uncommon subject for a political scientist to study, especially for one specializing in international relations. The field has long been dominated by the study of conflict, international economic relations and, to a lesser extent, foreign policy decision making. As a result, the research road I began to travel in graduate school is some distance from the unpaved path along which my research has travelled in the last several years. What follows charts the story of how I came to study the politics of orphans and intercountry adoption. 

A number of years ago, I participated in a service trip to a village in Ethiopia with a non-governmental organization called Engage Now Africa. My decision to go on that first service trip was very personal: I wanted to give something back to the country that had given my spouse and myself two daughters. 

Today, Ethiopia is one of the top countries from which Americans adopt, but that has not always been the case. Our daughters joined our family very shortly after 9/11. Few Americans were interested in adopting from Ethiopia in those days before Angelina Jolie’s adoption of Zahara. That changed very rapidly after all the media attention surrounding Jolie’s adoption, as well as the media attention for the “orphan crisis” in Africa. 

Posted on: Mon 05 August 2013

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