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Nobody's Children: Abuse and Neglect, Foster Drift and the Adoption Alternative
     

Nobody's Children: Abuse and Neglect, Foster Drift and the Adoption Alternative

by Elizabeth Bartholet
 
"An extraordinary book. Chilling, inspiring and utterly convincing, it creates an ironclad case for the adoption solution."-Sylvia Ann Hewlett

"Elizabeth Bartholet is a passionate crusader on behalf of children, and she brings to her subject vigorous, clear-headed prose and the moral authority of her professional dedication. . . . Her passion for protecting

Overview

"An extraordinary book. Chilling, inspiring and utterly convincing, it creates an ironclad case for the adoption solution."-Sylvia Ann Hewlett

"Elizabeth Bartholet is a passionate crusader on behalf of children, and she brings to her subject vigorous, clear-headed prose and the moral authority of her professional dedication. . . . Her passion for protecting children is expressed both rationally and polemically."-Ann-Janine Morey, Chicago Tribune

"Elizabeth Bartholet is a clear-eyed, plain-spoken guide in the bleak landscape of child protection services in America. . . . This should be required reading for those-and she tells you who they are-who look on adoption as the last resort for 'Nobody's Children.'"-Mary McGrory, The Washington Post

"Elizabeth Bartholet is deeply committed to the well-being of children. She issues a strong challenge to the child welfare system to facilitate adoption of children who have been abused and neglected. . . . Adoption, Bartholet argues, is the best option for providing these children with a permanent, safe, and nurturing environment. All people concerned about the healthy development of children should read Nobody's Children. I highly recommend it."-Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.

Author Bio: Elizabeth Bartholet, author of Family Bonds (Beacon / 2803-7 / $17.00 pb), has been a professor at Harvard Law School since 1977. She writes, lectures, and consults widely on issues involving child welfare, adoption, and reproductive technology. The mother of three boys, two of them adopted from Peru, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Editorial Reviews

Randall Kennedy
It is inspiring to see an intellectual join passion with knowledge and focus them effectively upon an important social problem. That is precisely what Elizabeth Bartholet, a professor at Harvard law school and an expert in family and civil rights law, has done. For a decade, she has been on a crusade to better the predicament of parentless children. . . . .

Bartholet has now written a book, Nobody's Children, that deepens her critique of the way our society fails orphans and children who are abused or neglected by "parents." I put parents in quotation marks pursuant to one of the main lessons of Nobody's Children-that "true parenting should be defined more by social bonds than by blood." In Bartholet's view, parenting consists of nurturing a child. She resists endowing an individual with the honorific title of parent simply because that person sires a child or gives birth to it. [She argues that] the blood tie alone should be viewed as an insufficient predicate for parenthood, especially when adults seriously neglect or abuse children that are presumptively "theirs." When adults do these things, Bartholet contends, their parental rights should either be terminated or suspended and reinstated only if they show convincingly that they are apt to rehabilitate themselves forthwith. Children, Bartholet convincingly argues, should not be condemned to dangerous, dysfunctional homes once it is clear that putative "parents" cannot, in fact, parent. Rather than waste public resources and precious time on doomed efforts at "family preservation" where there is no realistic family to preserve, she advises administrators and legislators to free neglected and abused children more readily and quickly for adoption. . . . .

One need not agree with all that Bartholet writes . . . to feel admiration and gratitude for her analysis of the dismal situation in which all too many American children-our children-are stuck. She has distinguished herself nobly as a caring, combative and insightful public intellectual.


Randall Kennedy is a professor at Harvard Law School. He is also a contributing editor of IntellectualCapital.com.

KLIATT
Bartholet, a professor at Harvard Law School, makes the point that the child welfare system's policy of keeping troubled families together at all costs is detrimental to the children involved. A better solution, she feels, is to encourage adoption of children from abusive and neglectful families by stable, intact families. With books like White Oleander being featured on Oprah, the troubled foster care system is a hot topic. While this scholarly book would probably be slow going for most teens, it will be of interest to counselors who work with troubled families. The book would also be a good resource for students writing reports about adoption, foster care, and related subjects. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Beacon Press, 304p, notes, index, 21cm, 99-22976, $17.50. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Fran Lantz; Author of YA novels, Santa Barbara, CA, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
Kirkus Reviews
A disturbing look at how the lives of "America's modern-day orphans" are sacrificed for the often unrealistic goal of keeping troubled families together. Bartholet (Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting, 1993), an expert on family law and an adoptive mother herself, traces the historical, political, and cultural reasons why battered and neglected children are far more likely to spend years in "foster limbo," or be sent back to abusive homes, than to be adopted by loving families. The author charges that despite recent legislation that bars race as a factor, everyone from private foundation administrators to judges, lawyers, and bureaucrats continues to be guided by the notion that children should be cared for by relatives, or adopted by families who look like them. Back in 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers denounced transracial adoption as a form of "racial genocide." Though "race-matching policies have gone underground" since then, Bartholet believes they resurface in criteria like "kinship" and "cultural competence." Because other relatives may not be up to the task of parenting, and because there are not enough minority families to adopt all the children who need them, the author asserts that race-matching essentially condemns many youngsters to lasting physical, cognitive, and emotional damage. Whereas wife beaters are treated like criminals, child abusers, often plagued by poverty and substance abuse, tend to be seen as victims themselves. Bartholet expresses sympathy for their plight but demands that social workers stop using precious child-welfare resources to prop up deeply disturbed families. "What matters," she insists, "is that thechildren get into homes where they can thrive." She also suggests, somewhat unrealistically, that the state could take a proactive role in reducing child abuse by instituting "universal visitation" of all families before and after birth. The author makes her case intelligently, fearlessly, and exhaustively. Curiously, since her subject matter is so wrenching, Bartholet's writing lacks emotional power. Nobody's Children ultimately appeals not to the heart, but to the head.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807023181
Publisher:
Beacon
Publication date:
10/10/1999
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.29(h) x 1.07(d)

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