Photo of Coming Home Barbie, Screenshot from website

The Dark Side of International Adoption and Barbie’s Past Involvement

In About The Book, Adoption, Asia, Commentary, Excerpts, The Americas, Uncategorized by Adoptionland News

Barbieland’s Controversial Partnership with International Adoption

In a bid to expand its global reach, toy manufacturing giant Mattel (HK) joined forces with the Chinese-owned White Swan Hotel back in the day when international adoption was at its height. The hotel was also known as the “White Stork Inn” or the “Baby Selling Hotel.” This partnership was aimed at welcoming adoptive parents and their newly adopted Chinese babies. However, this seemingly innocent collaboration took a distasteful turn when Mattel introduced a Barbie doll holding a Chinese adopted baby as an offensive souvenir. This move sparked a debate about the commodification of children, perpetuating stereotypes, and promoting the white savior complex. Moreover, Mattel’s attempt to monetize off of the coattails of the international adoption industry through creative marketing campaigns raised serious ethical concerns, leading some to question whether international adoption is really a child trafficking scheme that was being masked as humanitarian efforts.

The Commodification of Children and Stereotypes

The use of Barbie dolls holding Chinese adopted babies as souvenirs highlights a troubling issue – the commodification of children. This practice reduces the significance of adoption to a mere transaction, undermining the emotional and ethical complexities involved for the one being adopted. By promoting this type of marketing, Mattel inadvertently perpetuates the stereotype of Chinese children being seen as objects, little Asian dolls to show off, or commodities rather than as individual human beings.

The White Savior Complex and Its Implications

The introduction of Barbie as a white adoptive mother of a Chinese baby adds fuel to the fire of the white savior complex, a problematic and harmful belief system. The white savior complex portrays white individuals as benevolent rescuers of disadvantaged non-white communities. This concept not only diminishes the agency and capabilities of individuals from these communities but also contributes to a sense of superiority among adoptive parents, perpetuating colonial attitudes.

Mattel’s decision to portray Barbie as the white savior figure inadvertently reinforces this damaging narrative, further blurring the lines between adoption as a humanitarian act and adoption as a means of fulfilling a savior fantasy. This portrayal is not only insensitive but also fails to acknowledge the agency and resilience of adoptees and their birth communities.

Whitewashing and Disguised Child Trafficking Schemes

The collaboration between Mattel and the White Swan Hotel raises concerns about whitewashing, a practice in which the cultural or ethnic identity of a product or service is altered to appeal to a broader, usually Western, audience. By promoting the adoption of Chinese children through the Barbie doll souvenir, Mattel inadvertently contributes to whitewashing international adoption, distorting the reality of the adoption industry and its implications.

Moreover, the questionable practices surrounding international adoption raise suspicions of disguised child trafficking schemes. There have been thousands of documented cases of child trafficking under the guise of humanitarian efforts. By associating their brand with the adoption industry, Mattel may inadvertently be supporting an industry that, in some cases, profits off vulnerable Chinese children.

The Ethical Dilemma: Profiting from Vulnerable Children

Mattel’s apparent interest in monetizing the international adoption industry through its Barbie marketing campaign raises ethical concerns. International adoption should not be treated as a commercial enterprise. By attempting to tap into the adoption industry to gain loyal customers, Mattel risks exploiting vulnerable children for profit, which goes against the principles of ethical business practices.

Adoption: What You Should Know

Adoption What You Should Know, by Janine Myung JaNow on Audio

Adoption What You Should Know, by Janine Myung Ja

Mattel’s partnership with the White Swan Hotel and its Barbie marketing campaign raises serious ethical questions about the commodification of children, perpetuating stereotypes, and promoting the white savior complex. While not all international adoptions are unethical, it is crucial to be aware of the potential for disguised child trafficking schemes under the guise of humanitarian efforts.

As consumers, it is essential to remain vigilant and informed about the impact of the products we support. The book “Adoption: What You Should Know” is recommended as a resource to gain insight into the hidden aspects of adoption that are often concealed from potential adoptive parents.

By critically examining these issues, we can protect local and global families from adoption trafficking and practices that prioritize the well-being and human rights of children and their birth communities rather than being driven by profit motives and harmful stereotypes.