AN OPEN ADOPTION by Lincoln Caplan


Email this review


The story of an adoption in which all parties have met; by a staff writer for The New Yorker (where this first appeared) who is also the author of The Tenth Justice (1987) and The Insanity Defense and the Trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr. (1984). Dan and Lee Stone, a married California couple in their late 30s, suffer three miscarriages before choosing to adopt. Peggy Bass, an unmarried 20-year-old student who is seven months pregnant and attends the Univ. of Delaware, answers an ad placed by their lawyer. After a phone call to Lee Stone, Peggy decides to go ahead with a semi-open adoption (a closed adoption is one wherein all parties remain unknown to each other). Peggy and her boyfriend Tom plan to marry but don't want a baby just yet, and decide not to tell their parents about the baby. The Stones fly to Boston to spend the final weeks of Peggy's pregnancy with her and to get the baby when it's born. The Stones, in fact, are in the delivery room when baby Rebecca is born. Then comes the hard part. Peggy, who has put on a big front all through the affair, gives them the baby, but there is a waiting period of several months before final papers are signed by a judge. Will either Tom and Peggy, or both, change their minds and want the baby back? Peggy keeps up a correspondence with the Stones, which they welcome nervously, but eventually she suffers an emotional breakdown; various secrets emerge that Peggy has hidden; and the grandparents--who have at last been told--are upset and say that the Stones brainwashed Peggy and that they want the baby returned. But they relent, and the Stones keep Rebecca. During this story, Caplan weaves in the background of adoption law in the States and the rise of open adoptions, which have now become the rule. He favors open adoption, but the suggestion is clear that no further communication between the birth mother and the adoptive parents should take place after the baby has been given over. Thorough but not very gripping.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux