Honors 300H – “Orphans!: Adoption and Foster Care in History, Literature, Law and Public Policy.”
4 semester hours
Prerequisites: Permission of the Honors Program
Secrecy and privacy, shame and joy. Adoption and foster care are institutions grounded in complex emotions and complex realities—in both loss and love. As institutions, they purport to be “in the best interest of the child,” but of course that means that they always address adult needs and desires as well. Especially when large sums of money are involved, e.g., as adoptive parents pay for adoption services, some would in fact say that the whole enterprise inevitably serves adoptive parents’ needs first, as the paying consumers. That, these critics say, gravely risks turning children into commodities—and potential victims of kidnapping and human trafficking. In this course, we will focus on the stories Americans of a variety of ethnicities have told about abandoned, orphaned, displaced, indentured, adopted and/or abducted children throughout U.S. history, and the way such stories have helped shape, and have themselves been influenced by laws, and public policies. This course is deliberately designed as a service-learning course, and will require all students to directly engage with child-services in Clark County that are particularly concerned with adoption, foster care, or otherwise supporting children at risk of displacement from their families (15 hours over the course of the semester, in lieu of one paper). We will ultimately attend to current controversies in adoption and foster care, particularly as related to international and transracial adoption, open adoption, abortion and assisted reproduction technologies, and adoption and fostering by gay and lesbian couples. Writing Intensive. Cross-listed with Women’s Studies. CLAC opportunities available.