Adoption Nation.

Author:Gardner, Diane
Position:Book review

Adam Pertman (author); ADOPTION NATION; Harvard Common Press (Nonfiction: Family & Relationships) $16.95 ISBN: 9781558327160

Byline: Diane Gardner

Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, and Hugh Jackman all bravely bring something once hidden into the light: adoption. They aren't alone. Celebrities who proudly adopt mirror a transformation underway in our neighborhoods, schools, and families. Adoption, seemingly out of the blue, appears everywhere -- in the news, at the playground, in schools, at church, and in our own families. Something is changing. And according to author Adam Pertman and his book Adoption Nation, it's nothing short of a revolution.

Until very recently, adoption remained secretive. Birth mothers feared the stigma of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, adoptive parents wanted a "normal" family, and adopted children were thought to be better off not knowing. International adoption was nearly non-existent, as was adoption by single parents, same-sex partners, and disabled men and women. Today, all of that has been turned on its head. And the changes continue at a rapid-fire pace.

Adam Pertman -- a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and an adoptive father himself -- explores these changes. Divided into chapters discussing legal issues, various types of adoptions, and the perspective of each member of the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child), his book explores the hot-button issues and the day-to-day realities of adoption.

Pertman explores the legal and social history of adoption, including the reasons for secrecy and why that is changing. He also considers the personal and emotional issues adoption raises and social trends currently fueled by changes in adoption. The most significant: adoption is getting more and more open. This is true within individual families and in our nation as a whole.

In individual families, birth mothers now enjoy greater rights than ever with more involvement in their children's lives, and families with adopted children are discovering a new kind of "in-law." On a grander scale, our culture embraces different family structures like never before: interracial families, single-parent households, and same-sex parents. And adoption is helping fuel these changes in society at large.

Pertman considers these trends and what they mean for adoption today and in the future. He argues that while many, especially openness, are...

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