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Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families -- and America (Non) Paperback – March 17, 2011
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Pertman advocates for transparency in adoption, open adoption records, and all-around-acceptance and understanding of a part of life that touches everyone in America. Throughout the book, he weaves his personal testimony on adoption with testimonies of others to bring to life many complicated perspectives on adoption.
I especially liked the history that Pertman provides in each chapter. He traces adoption in America back to the 1700s, through the early laws of the 1800s, the orphan train movement of the early 1900s, the growth and decline of international adoptions since the 60s, controversies over transracial families, laws enacted and repealed, and the continued need of children in foster care today. Pertman describes how adoption as an institution has changed over time with society and must continue to change to ensure those directly involved are guaranteed the best possible outcome.
I appreciated this quote from page 23, which captures what Pertman explains throughout Adoption Nation: “Adoption’s glory is that it has fulfilled the dreams of millions over the years; but it has always been an emotionally wrenching and legally complicated process, because, by its nature, it must balance the rights and needs of vulnerable people.”
I recommend this book to anyone looking to be well informed on all aspects of adoption in the US, and especially to prospective adoptive parents looking to clearly understand the many facets of adoption.
Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman is the definitive book on adoption as far as I'm concerned. It is well written, meticulously researched, and tells balanced stories about all of the potential blessings and heartache that come with adoption for the major parties involved: adopted child, adoptive parents, and birth parents. If you were ever considering adoption in any form, this would be the first book to read.
I do have a pretty serious critique of Adoption Nation that comes from my own myopic view of adoption. This books does not devote any time whatsoever to the effects adoption have on the minor parties involved; namely the biological children of adoptive parents.
My parents bonded with my sister and knew 100% she was their daughter before they even met her. I however, looked at my newborn sister for the first time with the nine-year-old equivalent of "What the f---?" In retrospect, I could probably have benefited from counseling! Thankfully my sister and I are very close now. It turns out that my Mom was right and I did end up being thankful to have a sister.
Most children have nine months to watch their mom's bellies grow; all the while learning that the baby that comes out will be their flesh-and-blood sibling. Biological children of adoptive parents do not have this same preparation. Suddenly they just have a sibling.
I think that in adoptive parents' eagerness to protect the feelings of the adoptive child, there can be unintended consequences to the biological children. The adopted child might unintentionally be portrayed as "special", while the biological child feels just "ordinary". Of course, if you asked my sister about this she would probably say the exact opposite!
Adoption marks everyone who is involved. In my case it was for the better, but it would be nice to have seen a little bit of my own experience in Pertman's book.