598.01 Family Creation: A Non-Judicial Perspective

This seminar will focus on the role of the legislative and administrative process in family creation. We will examine situations in which a child born in one family becomes part of another through mechanisms such as adoption, foster care, or surrogacy. Particular attention will be given to intercountry adoption and surrogacy, which raise complex issues of law and policy, including those relating to the definition of family, state sovereignty, immigration and citizenship, human rights, and ethics and transparency. Not all countries participating in intercountry adoption and surrogacy are subject to relevant international treaties, and even where treaties are in effect, implementation has been characterized by conflict and delay. At the local level, regulation through oversight of private agencies, adoptive families, and third party intermediaries has been uneven. Throughout our examination of these issues, we will focus attention on the ways in which race and class have shaped policy, often in ways that harm families and children.

This seminar aims to give students the opportunity to understand the policymaking process by closely examining what has transpired in the field of family creation in the last 15-20 years, and considering what the future may hold, both within the U.S. and abroad. Students will be expected to explore and understand the intersection between policy, treaty, and national law, as well as the interrelationship between the legislative and administrative processes. Because the seminar will examine not only the law within the U.S. but that in other countries, students will be able to explore the differences in culture and policy that exist nation to nation and consider how those differences affect these inherently international issues relating to family creation.

Readings will draw from the United States and international sources and will include existing and proposed legislation, existing and proposed administrative regulations, treaty provisions, court decisions interpreting these sources, academic and journalistic writings, and audiovisual materials.

Special Notes:


Spring 2021

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
In-class exercise
Class participation
Kathryn Webb Bradley, Diane Kunz
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.598.01.Sp21
Email list: LAW.598.01.Sp21@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Requirements - Public Interest
Course Areas of Practice