I received an invitation to review Adam Pertman’s updated Adoption Nation last month. They wanted a transracial adoptive single mother’s point of view added to the mix. In exchange for my promise to participate in the blog tour of the book (a new concept for me-where have I been?) on a given date (today) I received my own copy, and two to give away.
The amount of work that went into this book, is rather mind blowing to me. I am sure you can scour the net for countless reviews lauding it’s comprehensive scope and broad historical focus. I felt a rather ominous pressure while reading the book as “reviewer” and not just as consumer. (My previous reviews here of books have always been after the fact of books I read and was charmed by. Now I realize that is just a sales pitch, not a review!) I wanted to make sure that I was reading the book through the lens that my audience have come to expect of me (even if I am not sure what exactly that means). I wrote down moments in the book that caused me pause for one reason or another, and asked Mr. Pertman to address them directly.
Interview with Adam Pertman
Mama C: As I worked my way through this incredibly rich resource on adoption I did find myself, by way of reviewer asking myself this question; ultimately who is your intended audience here? If you could have this book in the hand of every _______________________ what group would that be?
Adma Pertman: Interestingly, I very deliberately wrote this book for a general audience – i.e., people who do NOT think they’re part of the adoption world – rather than for any segment within it. My strong feeling is that we simply cannot level the playing field for those of us touched immediately by adoption unless everyone understands they are critical players in the game, too.
Mama C: I was rather awestruck by the amount of historical information you presented in this book, and the amount of historical knowledge I lacked. In my case a historical perspective on adoption from the Orphan trains of the 1850’s to all the variations on birth father registries today was completely absent in my “adoptive parent training”. If you could narrow it down to one or two or the most important historical components of adoption for potential adoptive parents to understand (as it influences the way they will take part in adoption into the future) what would that be? In other words what is the biggest historical take away you’d like your reader to gain from the book.
Adam Pertman: I’ll suggest two, though I agree there are many: the movement away from stigma and shame – with all the commensurate changes in understanding/treatment of adopted people, adoptive parents and birth parents; and the related shift from near-complete secrecy to greater and greater openness, again with commensurate changes in a lot of relationships, including the development of what I call “the extended family of adoption” that includes relatives by birth and adoption.
Mama C: On page 146 you said that; “The birth parents want to be invited to the party, not to crash it.” This points to what I found to be a consistently articulated message in your book that our biases regarding birth parents (mothers and fathers) needs to be addressed and examined with urgency if the dramatic shift in adoption that you speak of is going to continue in the right direction. If you could imagine one radical, or not so radical step we could all take in chipping away at this party crashing notion, (besides reading your book) what would that be?
Adam Pertman: This is tough, because it entails people dealing with insecurities as well as lack of knowledge. So, whether it’s through my book or any other resources, what I’d like to see is the lifting of the shame, stigmas and unnerving (and inaccurate) negative stereotypes relating to birth mothers – and fathers – so that real people can decide to form real relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. I know how sappy that sounds, by the way, but you asked. Actually, a second thing: giving all adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates would send a powerful message – and would do millions of people a lot of good.
Mama C: “Today [2007 according to the footnote] 29 percent of adopted children live with single parents as compared to 21 parent of all children….The vast number of those parents are white females who adopted children of color.” (228) A trend you go on to say is “contributing mightily to the national explosion in both single parent house holds and interracial families.” What would you go on to imagine will be one impact this group is going to have on the “revolution” we are part of? How are we helping to further the breaking down of stereotypes? Of replacing the old with the new?
Adam Pertman: I think it’s part and parcel to the impact of all sorts of adoption: they are helping to alter our view of what families look like, how they are formed and, in real ways, our very understanding of the word “family.”
Thank you for your responses Mr. Pertman, and the opportunity to be involved in this blog tour. I hope that your own words here will help readers decide if this is an ongoing conversation they would like to invite into their lives via your book.
If you’d like to receive your own free copy of Adoption Nation leave an answer to this question in the comments below; One topic I would love a book on adoption to address (differently/still) is: ________________ in the comments below.
Sam and I will do an old fashioned random pick of all the names, and contact you directly asking for your mailing address.