Adam Pertmanwrites on family and children's issues for the Boston Globe. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his reports on adoption and has been awarded the Century Foundation's Leonard Silk Journalism Fellowship, the Year 2000 Media Award for exceptional dedication and commitment to children, and was honored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption for Adoption Nation. He and his wife live with their two adopted children in Newton, Massachusetts.
Based on a series of articles that he wrote for the Boston Globe, Pertman combines journalistic research and personal anecdotes in this stimulating overview of the trends and cultural ramifications of adoption. His views come through loud and clear: families should be "out" about their adoptive status, children should be told that they were adopted as early as possible and all members of the adoption "triad" (birth mother, child and parents) should try to stay in close communication. Suggesting that adoptive families have benefited enormously from the country's increasing acceptance of racial diversity, Pertman argues that the controversial 1994 Multiethnic Placement Act (which stipulates that transracial adoptions can not be legally prohibited) is a strong step forward in placing the interests of the individual child over those of an abstract, race-based notion of family. He also suggests that adoption itself has helped to instigate social change: in its role as an "institutionalized means of forming non-traditional families," adoption may help gay, multiracial and single-parent families gain greater social acceptance. Even so, Pertman contends, adoptive families are still subject to many hurtful stereotypes (e.g., the irresponsible birth mother; the selfish adoptive parents). Perhaps most harrowing is his discussion of the effect of "laissez faire" capitalist thinking on adoption policy and the largely unregulated nature of the "industry" that has sprung up around it (e.g., one woman tried to sell her baby on eBay; the highest bid was $109,100). This disturbing and hopeful book will primarily attract adoptive families and policy makers, who will find that it has much to say about our changing definitions of family, race and community. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.