It was almost ten years ago that Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming America was published. Adam Pertman, author and executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Adoption Institute, felt enough had changed in adoption to warrant a revised and updated edition.
I have the first edition of Adoption Nation. I found it informative, thoughtful and well-written. I was very curious as to what Pertman would include in this revision, especially since it so closely resembles the first, right down to the chapter titles. I was not disappointed.
Pertman has acquired ten additional years of expertise and, as importantly, the same in parenting—adoptive parenting. Wearing both “hats” serves the purpose of Adoption Nation well, providing a nice balance of professional tone and a capitvating voice. Pertman’s exposure to and knowledge of adoption—its history, current events and policy, and advocacy—are evident, as is his compassion for those who are part of adoption.
Pertman doesn’t shy away from admitting that his perspectives, like adoption, have evolved. Nor does he avoid expressing his opinions, albeit with noted references and engaging stories. Adoption Nation provides a wealth of information for those interested in the complexities of adoption. Pertman writes eloquently, without boring the reader. I recommend getting yourself a copy and reading it from cover to cover.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Pertman after reading Adoption Nation:
Q: What compelled you to revise and update Adoption Nation?
Adam Pertman: So much has changed in the adoption world over the past decade – from the dose-dive of international adoptions, to a soaring of adoption from foster care, to greater openness and honesty in most regards for all adoptions. Plus, I think more people now realize just how profound an impact adoption truly is having on all sorts of families. So it was time.
Q: Did the findings that you present in the second edition surprise you? In other words, did you suspect that when you researched and wrote the first edition of Adoption Nation in 2001 that you’d be updating it?
Adam Pertman: Honestly, I did expect (and hope) to update it. This is a revolution in progress, not one that we’re looking back at and assessing. So the stories needed updating – and many new ones had to be added – and the same is true for the research and the phenomenon of adoption itself. The impact on more and more people – certainly tens of millions – is more powerful than ever.
Q: Do you have plans to update it again, say in another ten years? What do you think we might see, based on the changes that have occurred/in process, i.e., open adoption, access to original birth records, The Hague Convention?
Adam Pertman: I may be too tired in 10 years – but I hope not. A decade from now, we’ll know whether the decline of international adoption was a blip or the beginning of the end; we’ll know the outcomes for millions of kids from foster care; and I believe we’ll see a wide-open process in adoption, search and reunion, largely because of the internet. There will be lots to update when the time comes, and I hope it will.
Q: Are there any assumptions you presented in the first edition that you had to correct or expand on?
Adam Pertman: One that comes immediately to mind: I had thought we would do a better job of making international adoption ethical and practical for the sake of all the children who need homes; that hasn’t happened, alas. Most of the rest is indeed occurring, good (more honesty and openness) and bad (the growing role of money).
Q: How has your additional decade of parenting children who have been adopted impacted your perspective on adoption and all it encompasses?
Adam Pertman: In sooooo many ways. My grasp of the issues that I deal with in my book – and in my work at the Institute – is so much more informed by life experience. More than anything I clearly see that adoption is a profound reality for the people who have it in their lives.
Q: How do you balance your two hats: that of adoption professional and adoptive dad?
Adam Pertman: By never sleeping.
Q: How do your kids feel about the work you do?
Adam Pertman: They’re teenagers. They simultaneously say it doesn’t matter and feel very proud. I like the latter better!