Review of "Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption" Academic Article uri icon


  • Book Review Extract: Wayne Carp is rightly celebrated as the official historian of American adoption reform. He continues his important work, begun with Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption in 1998 and continued with Adoption Politics: Bastard Nation and Ballot Initiative 58 in 2004, with a look at the life and times of Jean Paton, a reformer of the 1950s. Carp credits her with a litany of “firsts”: the first to recognize and study adult adoptees; the first to critique the “chosen child” concept; the first to create an organization devoted to adult adoptees; the first to create a mutual adoption registry to connect adoptees and birth parents; the first among adoption reform advocates to defend birthmothers against societal stigma. In his account it is easy to see why Paton was referred to by some as “the mother of the adoption reform movement” (2). And although Jean Paton takes top billing in the book’s title, it is less a biography of her than it is a biography of a social movement.

author list (cited authors)

  • Seymore, ..

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM