2014 ASAC Conference: Our presentation on Jean Paton anounced

I am happy to announce that I’ll presenting at the 2014 Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture (ASAC). conference, Crossing Boundaries  at Florida State University in Tallahassee.early next year..  I’ll be part of a Book Session  panel headed by E. Wayne Carp author of the upcoming biography  Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption (University of Michigan Press, 2014).  A permanent title for the presentation will be announced in a few days, but for current informational purposes, we will be discussing the Jean Paton’s work and the book.. With me will be Elizabeth Samuels and Marianne Novy. I don’t know what their critique topics will be, but mine is “A Radical Looks at a Radical.”  Jean Paton is the mother of us all.:\ the  Mother of US adoption reform and the adopee rights movement.. As  Dr. Carp noted in the proposal: Paton gave adult adoptees a voice and provided them with a healthy self-image; facilitated thousands of meetings between adult adoptees and their families of origin; fought tirelessly to open sealed adoption records… Patron’s struggle to reform American adoption was never easy; she faced resistance at every turn. This, then, is Jean Paton’s story: one courageous woman’s struggle to overcome Continue Reading →

Attention Pittsburgh-area Bastards, Families and Friends: Elizabeth Samuels to speak at Pitt on the history of sealed records at Pitt!

Pittsburgh Consortium for Adoption StudiesUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Arts and SciencesSchool of LawWomen’s Studies Program Present: Elizabeth Samuels Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law Adoption, Identity, and Confidentiality:The History of Closed Records Thursday, September 3012:30 pm G-20 University of Pittsburgh Law School3900 Forbes Avenue Currently, when children are adopted, they are usually issued new birth certificates in which the names of adoptive parents replace the names of birth parents. Copies of their sealed original birth certificates have been unavailable to adult adoptees in most states for varying numbers of years. But recently many states around the country have considered, and some have passed, legislation restoring adult adoptees’ right to receive uncertified copies of their original birth certificate upon request. House Bill 1978, now in the Pennsylvania House Health and Human Services Committee, would restore this right, overturning the 1984 law that foreclosed access. Another bill in the House, H. B. 1968, takes a different approach: it would establish procedures by which a court or agency must locate birth parents and obtain consent before providing identifying information to an adoptee. Against the backdrop of these bills, this talk will discuss the surprising, often misunderstood history of adoptee birth records Continue Reading →


Adoption law scholar Elizabeth Samuels has a letter in Saturday’s Washington Post in response to TV critic Tom Shales scathing review of Find My Family: The family weep-stakes. I agree with his broader critique of the show and its reality porn genre, but did Shales have to muck up his cultural criticism with a cheap shot at first parents Sandy and Scotty Steinpas: Then the Steinpases decided to forget about the legally binding agreement they’d signed in 1979, pledging not to search for their former baby or upset her home life. Why should Scotty and Sandy let a nasty old contract get in the way of their whims? WTF??? Of all the complaints I could raise about Find My Family, some alleged breech of contract is as far away from my radar as Antoine Vermette’s reaction to the latest Columbus Blue Jacket’s loss. To show how far away that is, I had to look up the Bluejacket’s roster to come up with his name to write that last sentence. Shales sees himself as a latter-day Gilbert Seldes. He treats TV like it’s theatre or film–an admirable, but in the case of Voyeur TV–absurdist endeavour. Reality porn is not Man of Continue Reading →