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Children and U.S. Adoption Literature

Literary representations of adoption can be found in all periods of writing in the United States, beginning with 17th-century Puritan texts such as sermons and diaries and continuing through today with nonfictional work such as memoirs and essays and creative forms such as novels, short stories, poems, and plays. The treatment of adoption in this literature varies as widely as the genres themselves, reflecting the cultural norms associated with adoption beliefs and practices at the time.

In particular, these concerns involve the amount of secrecy or openness associated with adoption and the degree to which adoption is either stigmatized or embraced as an alternative to forming families through biological kinship. This entry considers how a study of representations of adoption in American literature can reveal much ...

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