International adoptions have decreased dramatically in the last decade, despite robust evidence of the tremendous benefits that early placement in adoptive families can confer upon children who are not able to remain with birth families. This book integrates evidence from a range of disciplines in the social and biological sciences- including psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, sociology, anthropology, and social work - to provide a ringing endorsement of international adoption as a viable child welfare option. The author interweaves narrative accounts of her own adoption journey, which involved visiting a Kazakhstani orphanage daily for nearly a year, to illustrate the complexities and implications of the research evidence.
Topics include the effects of institutionalization on children's developing brains, cognitive abilities, and socio-emotional functioning; the challenges of navigating issues of identity when adopting across national, cultural, and racial lines; how strong emotional bonds form even without genetic relatedness; and how adoptive families can address the special needs of children who experienced early neglect and deprivation, providing a supportive environment in which those children can flourish. Striving to attain a balanced, evidence-based perspective on controversial issues, the book argues that international adoption must be maintained and supported as a vital means of promoting international child welfare.