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Adoption: Secret Histories, Public Policies

Legal adoption transferring custody of a child and severing all legal ties to the biological parents was instituted first in Massachusetts in 1851. Since then, adoption practice has changed dramatically.

That history, and the future of adoption, will be the focus of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture's third international conference, taking place at MIT April 30 through May 2.

In recent years, there has been a significant move toward less secrecy and more contact between adoptive families and birth families; inter-country and transracial adoption is more common; and gay and lesbian adoption is increasingly possible. A full understanding of the impact of changing adoption policy must include not only the insights of psychologists and social workers, but also writers, filmmakers, artists, philosophers, literary critics and historians.

The conference will bring members of the adoption community — including adoptees, birthfamilies, adoptive parents, adoption workers — together with scholars, writers and activists to consider how "secrecy or openness affected the history, experience and representations of adoption?"

Keynote speakers include: Anita L. Allen, Ann Fessler, Lynn Lauber, and Deann Borshay Liem. For more information, visit the event website.

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