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The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption Hardcover – April 23, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


Erin Siegal, author of Finding Fernanda
The Child Catchers shatters conceptions about how and why Americans adopt, bringing us inside the often-misunderstood Christian adoption movement. Joyce's graceful prose deftly exposes the connections between adoption trade groups, the religious right, and U.S. policy makers, while delicately revealing a horrific series of ongoing crimes and misdeeds perpetrated against children. A timely, important book.”

Debbie Nathan, journalist,  co-author of Satan’s Silence; author of Women and Other Aliens, Pornography, and Sybil Exposed
“In this chilling expose that promises to become a muckraker classic, Kathryn Joyce rips the veil off a sacrosanct institution in America and other rich nations: international adoption.  She exposes not just black- and grey-market practices—though she finds plenty of both in evangelical-Christian institutions piously claiming to rescue orphans from poor countries.  More profoundly, though, Joyce reveals how secular, squeaky-clean adoption can also do harm, not just to individual birth mothers and adoptees, but to the progress of children’s and women’s rights globally. The Child Catchers is essential reading for adoptive parents, those thinking about adopting, and anyone concerned with democracy—nationally and throughout the world.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Joyce broadens the understanding of adoption's conundrums, not only within the United States, but also internationally, with deep investigations of children from Liberia, Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda, Haiti and China…Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting.”

Anthea Butler, University of Pennsylvania
“Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers is a compelling, meticulously researched, and insightful dissection of Conservative Christians and their participation in the international adoption complex. Joyce unmasks this new fertile ‘mission field’ of children, defined by a labyrinth of adoption agencies, organizations, and activists. By unmasking the truth behind many of these ‘adoptions’ of children with loving but impoverished families, Joyce gives voice to the children hurt by this neo-colonial Christian mission. The Child Catchers is an important must-read in order to understand the business of adoption, and the pain that can befall the child’s biological family, the child and, at times, the adoptive family.”

Jeff Sharlet, bestselling author of The Family and C Street
The Child Catchers takes us for a fast and frightening ride down a road to hell that’s paved with ‘good intentions,’ yes, but also with willful ignorance and worse, outright deception. Joyce’s story—that of a new, religiously driven ‘baby scoop’ that amounts to a massive redistribution of children from the poor to the affluent—requires no sensationalism. The facts, presented here with care and fair-mindedness, are terrifying enough. And Joyce’s analysis, calm and powerfully perceptive, is devastating. May this book stand as a landmark work of investigative journalism.”

Jessica Valenti, founder of and author of Purity Myth and Why Have Kids
“Kathryn Joyce’s investigation into the rise of the Christian adoption movement is both fascinating and disturbing. In chronicling this mission to ‘save’ children from their home countries and perceived hardships, Joyce moves beyond the feel-good headlines to reveal a truth that most American media seems to have missed. The Child Catchers fills an important gap in the national conversation not just about adoption—but about imperialism and feminism as well.”

“Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting”

Boston Globe

Library Journal
“This intricate investigation of adoption ethics and religion is an incisive, evenhanded corrective to the view of child adoption as benign and salvific….Grim but now downbeat, Joyce’s reporting also indicates signs of hope for reform….This exemplary study deserves a wide audience among all readers involved with adoption, from policymakers to prospective adoptive families.”

About the Author

Kathryn Joyce was chosen as Americans United 2014 "Person of the Year." Joyce is a journalist based in New York City whose work has appeared in the Nation, Mother Jones, Slate, the Atlantic, and other publications. A 2011 recipient of the Knight Luce Fellowship for Reporting on Global Religion, she has also been awarded residencies and fellowship support by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund, the MacDowell Colony, the Bellagio Center, and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. She is the author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement and as associate editor at Religion Dispatches.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586489429
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586489427
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Mom20 on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am one of those right-wing, Evangelical Christians that the author seems to not care this may be interesting! I am mom to biological sons and often thought about adopting a daughter from China. I started to research and found out a lot of information about children being kidnapped from their parents in China and was SO disturbed because I had NO idea that this was going on. I don't think most Americans understand that when you pay to adopt of a child in a 3rd world country that you are inadvertently, supporting child trafficking. Whenever a lot of money is involved and there is a demand, regardless of what the demand is for...corruption always comes....and the end does not justify the means. As a Compassion International sponsor to children in Ethiopia, I started to research adoption in Ethiopia, as well as, the orphan crisis and street children there. I went with Compassion Int to Ethiopia to meet my sponsor kids and also met boys at an orphanage. I became a mom to 4 boys at an orphanage. I have been back several times to visit them. I am their mother in every sense except that I am not physically with them all of the time. As I learned more about adoption and met more and more people that had adopted.........I was SHOCKED...the first adoptive parent sitting on my couch in my house said.........."when, I met her mother." When you met her mother?? She has a mother?? YES, but she is very poor and cannot take care of her. spent 30,000 to take her away from her mother instead of helping the mother keep her own child? I thought it was an isolated incident but I heard it OVER and OVER again! As a Christian, I cannot believe that my fellow Christians do not have a HUGE problem with this. If I were poor and someone from.....let's say Spain....Read more ›
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Anna Karenina on October 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an incredibly eye-opening book about all that's wrong with international adoption. The main argument of the book is that western demand for children, and/or for a heroic Christian adoption experience, has a distorting effect on the number of "orphans" available for adoption in developing countries. If you build it, they will come--that is, orphanages attract desperately poor parents to drop off their kids. Highly paid adoption workers get parents to relinquish kids, without their fully understanding that adoption is permanent. What is needed is often not adoption but assistance to whole families. In other places, the problem is not so much poverty but the stigma attached to single motherhood. That's it in a tiny nutshell--there is a massive amount of information in this book, and it's not easily summarized.

This is all extremely compelling. The book is very thoroughly researched and clearly written. The one thing I can't say for it is that it is balanced. We don't get stories of needed and successful adoption to balance the stories of unneeded and corrupt adoption. So basically the reader is forced to read another book. Perhaps that's OK, though. By writing a polemic, Joyce forces us to completely rethink the ethics of adoption, instead of reaching a bland "sometimes good, sometimes bad" conclusion.

As for all the negative reviews--Joyce steps on a lot of toes in this book. Read it for yourself and ignore the outrage. It will change your whole outlook on international adoption if you started out (like me) thinking it must be mostly humanitarian and necessary.
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97 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Janet on April 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found out about this book in a rather roundabout way. I followed a blog written by couple who had adopted several Chinese daughters. A few months after bringing their newest daughter to the US, the posts started mentioning that she wasn't fitting in and that the family was becoming convinced that they had not been chosen by God to make this girl a part of their family, but instead as a tool to bring her to the country so she could find her "real" home. It was in the comments to these posts that I first learned about adoption disruption. In researching it, I found out about this book and pre-ordered it.

The stories Joyce describes have really shown me a part of international and domestic adoption that I had not thought about before. I honestly believed the hype about hundreds of millions of orphans waiting desperately to find homes. I appreciate that the author interviewed people who adopted with this same understanding and were mortified when they learned that their new sons and daughters had had homes and family, and that the terms "orphan" and "adoption" can have much different meanings in different cultures. I think Joyce recognizes that so many of these people truly want to do the right thing, but are caught in a system that is exploiting the adoptive parents as much as the children.

Of particular interest was the profiling of groups that actively fight programs which would help families stay together, under the belief that children deserve not just a family but the right kind of American family.

There is so much information in this book, and so many issues that it has inspired me to look and think more deeply into. I highly recommend this book for anyone considering adoption or interested in child welfare.
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