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Taking Adoption Seriously: Radical Revolution or Modest Revisionism?

18 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2000  

Elizabeth Bartholet

Harvard Law School

Date Written: November 1999


This article is adapted from the introduction to the author's recent book Nobody's Children: Abuse and Neglect, Foster Drift and the Adoption Alternative. It challenges the accepted orthodoxy in the child welfare world that views children as "belonging" in an essential sense to their kinship and their racial groups, and that locks them into inadequate biological and foster homes. It calls for application to abuse and neglect issues, lessons learned from the battered women's movement, and questions why family preservation ideology still reigns supreme when children rather than adult women are involved. It assesses promising new developments in the policy world, and warns of the pitfalls that threaten real progress. It argues that the entire community should take responsibility for all its children, and advocates that we take seriously for the first time in our nation's history the adoption option.

JEL Classification: K10, K2, K29, K30, K39, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Bartholet, Elizabeth, Taking Adoption Seriously: Radical Revolution or Modest Revisionism? (November 1999). Capital University Law Review, Vol. 28, No. 1, November 1999 . Available at SSRN: or

Elizabeth Bartholet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Hauser Hall 422
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 495-3128 (Phone)
(617) 496-4947 (Fax)

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