Addicted to Orphans: How the Global Orphan Industrial Complex Jeopardizes Local Child Protection Systems

Kristen E. Cheney, Karen Smith Rotabi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


While many scholars and activists from multiple disciplines have reported on various aspects of orphan policy and the international adoption industry, there has been little synthesis of this information and its implications for global child protection. This chapter therefore puts the pieces together to argue that the misidentification of “orphans” as a category for development and humanitarian intervention has subsequently been misappropriated by many Western individuals and charitable organizations. Promoting a discourse of orphan rescue, they foster the growth of an “orphan industrial complex.” In developing countries like Guatemala and Uganda whose children are targeted for “rescue,” the discourse and practice of “orphan rescue” is subsequently jeopardizing child protection and even driving the “production” of orphans as objects for particular kinds of intervention-counter to established international standards of child protection.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationConflict, Violence and Peace
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • International adoption
  • Child protection
  • Orphans
  • Humanitarian intervention
  • Orphan rescue
  • Orphan industrial complex
  • Guatemala
  • Uganda


  • Psychology
  • Psychiatry

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