Understanding Adoption as a Reproductive Justice Issue

Jade H. Wexler, Jieyi Cai, Kimberly D. McKee, Amelia Blankenau, Heewon Lee, Oh Myo Kim, Adam Y. Kim, Richard M. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Adoption is frequently invoked as a universal social good—an uncomplicated win for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents alike—that obviates the need for abortion. As antiabortionists weaponize adoption to attack reproductive rights, psychologists must recognize adoption as a key reproductive justice issue with significant, lifelong physical and psychological impacts, especially on adopted people and birth parents. Recognizing critical adoption studies as an application of a reproductive justice framework, we argue that psychologists must understand how adoption is both sustained by and reinforces structural inequality and global reproductive injustice. In a post-Roe reality, clinicians and researchers must critically examine adoption histories and myths in order to address the needs of the adoption triad. As an interdisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians in psychology; medicine; genetic counseling; and women's, gender, sexuality, and Asian American studies, we examine adoption's ties to settler colonialism, racism, classism, and imperialism and interrogate harmful dominant narratives about adoption. We then summarize clinical considerations for working with members of the adoption triad, future directions for research on adoption, and recommendations for both clinicians and researchers to advance adoption competence in the face of current attacks on reproductive rights in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-527
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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  • adoptee
  • birth parent
  • critical adoption studies
  • foster care
  • reproductive justice


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