Adoption: Secret Histories, Public Policies, MIT, April 29-May 2, 2010

Jan 23, 2010 May 21, 2010

Adoption: Secret Histories, Public Policies
A conference sponsored by the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture
at MIT, Cambridge, MA
April 29-May 2, 2010

Keynote speakers: Anita L. Allen, Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania Law School. Allen’s work has focused on the law and ethics of privacy and data protection, race relations and feminist philosophy. She is the author of numerous articles and several books: Privacy Law: and Society (2007); Why Privacy Isn’t Everything: Feminist Reflections on Personal Accountability, (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003); Uneasy Access: Privacy for Women in a Free Society (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, l988) and The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (Miramax Books/distributed by Hyperion Books, 2004).

Ann Fessler is an installation artist, filmmaker, adoptee and author of The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade. (The Penguin Press, 2006) based on oral history interviews she conducted between 2002 and 2005 with surrendering mothers across the country. In 2008 Fessler received the Ballard Book Prize given annually to a female author who advances the dialogue about women's rights and in 2006 her book was selected by the National Book Critics Circle as one of the top 5 nonfiction books of the year. Hear Ann Fesssler on Fresh Air.

Lynn Lauber, birth mother, writer, teacher, and book collaborator, has published three books with W.W. Norton. White Girls (1990) and 21 Sugar Street (1993), both fiction, that deal with the topics of birth families and adoption. Listen to Me, Writing Life into Meaning (2003), is part memoir, part exploration of writing as self-discovery. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times and a number of anthologies. She currently teaches personal writing workshops and is writing a memoir on her experience as a birth mother.

Deann Borshay Liem is Producer, Director, Writer for the Emmy Award-nominated documentary, First Person Plural (PBS 2000), Executive Producer for Spencer Nakasako’s Kelly Loves Tony (PBS 1998) and AKA Don Bonus (PBS 1996, Emmy Award), and Co-Producer for Special Circumstances (PBS, 2009) by Marianne Teleki. A Sundance Institute Fellow and a recipient of a Rockefeller Film/Video Fellowship, Deann is the Director, Producer, Writer of the new documentary, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, which will be broadcast nationally on PBS in Fall 2010. She is currently Executive Director of Katahdin Productions, a non-profit documentary production company based in Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. Learn more about DeAnn Borshay Liem on PBS’s Point of View.

Other invited speakers include Marla Brettschneider, Naomi Cahn,, Meredith Hall, Craig Hickman, Kate Livingston, Karen McElmurray, Adam Pertman, John Raible, Lisa Marie Rollins, Elizabeth Samuels, Sarah Tobias.
There will be a day of documentary films on Thursday. Panels later in the conference will cover topics such as: Secrecy and Policy; Lesbian/gay Secrecy Issues and Adoption; Complications of Search, Reunion and Aftermath; Transnational Adoption as Immigration Policy; Secrecy and Adoption: Historical Perspectives on the U.S., Europe, and Asia after World War II; Birthmothers: Agency and Activism; Biological Preference Critiqued and Analyzed; Secrecy and Openness: Legal Issues; Transracial Adoption in Contemporary American Literature; Adoptive Parents, Race, Difference. There will also be an evening of creative writing and performance on Friday, 4/30/10; this evening and all keynotes are free and open to the public. All sessions free to MIT affiliates, and special rates are available for non-MIT students and the un/underemployed.

For more information, visit our website or contact by email

Sponsored by Mass Humanities; MIT Office of the Dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Literature Section, Program in Women's and Gender Studies; University of New Hampshire Center for the Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, Philosophy Department; Rutgers-Camden, Department of English.

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