CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

On January 12, 2010, a terrible earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince, affecting 3.5 million people. Following the event, French parents trying to adopt children born in Haiti were faced with a major crisis. After activism by parents’ collectives, the French government decided in late January to transfer children for whom adoption decisions had been made. The adoptive parents met their children for the first time at the Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports in Paris, before an audience of journalists and politicians. Six years later, we use a phenomenological qualitative approach to explore the representations that the adoptive parents constructed around their first meetings with their children, and we offer recommendations for future natural catastrophes. To our knowledge, no equivalent work on this topic exists. In line with international legislation, adoption cannot be an emergency response. It is crucial to prepare the child and the adoptive parent(s) if additional trauma is to be avoided. The adoptions carried out in the wake of the earthquake push us to think in a more nuanced way about the difficulties adoptive parents face, and therefore about questions of filiation as a whole.

  • international adoption
  • parental representations
  • earthquake
  • psychological trauma
  • psychoanalysis
  • narrativity
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