Jessica DelBalzo has written an important book with the inspiring title "Unlearning Adoption", in which she unravels the workings of the adoption industry, the consequences thereof and alternatives to it.
The book starts explaining how the language used by the adoption industry, labelled "Positive Adoption Language", is a deliberate attempt at influencing the public opinion. Jessica DelBalzo then demonstrates what honest adoption language can be like, an approach she uses throughout the book. Wherever she criticizes the adoption industry she offers well thought of alternatives.
"Unlearning Adoption" is an anti-adoption book and though radical in stance, its recommendations and advice are much less radical than the doings of the adoption industry it criticizes. In chapters about past adoption practices, adoption today, foster care adoption and abandonment laws, DelBalzo unravels the workings of the adoption industry, coming full circle with adoption in the media. She covers the demand side pressures of the market place, the myth of open adoption, the reality of Safe Haven laws, the modern incarnations of maternity homes.
The second part of the book deals with the effects of adoption on both adoptees and parents, addressing subjects like attachment, identity formation, crime and substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, anger and trust issues. Jessica DelBalzo's portrayal of the consequences of adoption are in stark contrast to the image the adoption industry tries to create, much more disturbing and much more in demand of radical change. That change she describes at the end of her book, looking beyond the borders of the USA, giving an account of Australian inquiries of child placement practices and the following decline of adoption. She addresses open records in Scandinavia and many other countries, Teen pregnancy prevention in the USA compared to other rich western countries and family support measures around the globe.
She returns to the USA, the book predominantly focussing on America, by giving an account of the various adoption reform and abolishment movements, rounding it all off with alternatives to adoption, giving practical advice on how to avoid the grip of the adoption industry on pregnant women, but she also promotes the notion of legal guardianship, in cases where out-placement indeed is in the best interest of a child.