Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption
"Family Matters" cuts through the sealed records, changing policies, and conflicting agendas that have obscured the history of adoption in America ... Show synopsis "Family Matters" cuts through the sealed records, changing policies, and conflicting agendas that have obscured the history of adoption in America and reveals how the practice and attitudes about it have evolved from colonial days to the present. Amid recent controversies over sealed adoption records and open adoption, it is ever more apparent that secrecy and disclosure are the defining issues in American adoptions - and these are also the central concerns of E. Wayne Carp's book. Mining a vast range of sources (including for the first time confidential case records of a 20th-century adoption agency), Carp makes a startling discovery: openness, not secrecy, has been the norm in adoption for most of our history; sealed records were a post-World War II aberration, resulting from the convergence of several unusual cultural, demographic, and social trends. Pursuing this idea, "Family Matters" offers surprising insights into various notions that have affected the course of adoption, among them Americans' complex feelings about biological kinship versus socially constructed families; the stigma of adoption, used at times to promote both openness and secrecy; and, finally, suspect psychoanalytic concepts, such as "genealogical bewilderment, " and bogus medical terms, such as "adopted child syndrome, " that paint all parties to adoption as psychologically damaged.