Bastards Are Beautiful: The Formation of American Adult Adoptee Community through the Life and Work of Jean M. Paton

By Michal Ostrovsky.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

An adoption reform movement campaigning for full disclosure of adoption records emerged in the United States during the 1970s. The paper reveals that the struggle began much earlier, with the lifelong work of Jean M. Paton, beginning in the late 1940s until her death in 2003. Paton's activities included research of the adoptees' world, alongside the establishment of adoptees' groups nationwide, through her organization, Orphan Voyage, and other arenas. Paton's life and work provide a vantage point from which to gain a new perspective on the transformation of the American adult adoptees from isolated individuals into a vibrant community striving for civilian equality. Moreover, Paton's story expands contemporary evaluations of the breadth of women's engagement to social and civic reform in states and locales, not typically associated with the women's movement during the repressive culture and conservative politics of the 1950s.

Keywords: Jean M. Paton, Adoption Reform, Adult Adoptees Community

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.129-139. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 156.167KB).

Dr. Michal Ostrovsky

Lecturer, Department of General History, Bar Ilan University, Pardesia, Israel

Dr. Ostrovsky is a lecturer in the Department of General History, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Ostrovsky’s PhD thesis researched the crucial role of the German Jewish Children's Aid, an American-Jewish organization that saved thousands of children, both Jewish and non-Jewish, during the Holocaust, by transferring them from Europe to the United States. Ostrovsky’s MA thesis, graded with a special distinction, dealt with Jean M. Paton's lifelong activism, resuming in the early 1950s, for a legal and social reform of the American institute adoption from confidentiality towards openness and a full disclosure of adoption records.