Making transnational families through “quiet migration:” NRIs adopting children from India

Nancy E. Riley, Bowdoin College
Nilanjana Chatterjee, Independent Consultant

This paper examines the “quiet migration” of transnational adoptions by NRIs (Indians residing in the United States) from India. These adoptions highlight and problematize taken-for-granted assumptions about race, family, kin, and transnational communities. We examine the players and processes in these adoptions and the potential future outcomes of these processes. We will draw on a variety of sources, including existing statistics from the United States and India, preliminary interviews with adoption agencies and adoptive parents in the United States, as well as analysis of web- based communities of adopting parents. We argue though adoption is stigmatized in India, their transnational mobility makes it possible for NRIs to construct unconventional families through adoption. The Indian state welcomes the strengthened ties between diaspora and homeland these adoptions produce; in addition, NRIs are seen as preferable parents over other potential adopting parents, particularly white westerners.

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Presented in Session 152: International migration and transnational families and households