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Book Reviews
May 2002

Complex Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology

Author Affiliations

by Vivian B. Shapiro, PhD, Janet R. Shapiro, MSW, PhD, and Isabel H. Paret, PhD, 338 pp, ISBN 1-57230-628-9, New York, NY, Guilford Press, 2001.


Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59(5):475-476. doi:

This book leads the reader into the current diverse universe of "parentage," a broader term that includes parenthood, which means the position, function, or standing of a parent. According to Webster's Dictionary, in the term parentage, with its additional meanings of descent from parents or ancestors by birth, family and lineage, or a derivation from a source, we have a closer approximation of what this book is about.

The authors delineate 2 highways to parentage: the adoption highway and the assisted reproductive technology (ART) highway, both fraught with a myriad of pitfalls that are presented in an informative, well-organized, and clear style. The need for practical psychosocial intervention in each instance is well justified. Those who can't have a baby can choose and anticipate the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The cluster around complex adoption, a euphemism for adoption and its complications, includes adoption of children following foster placement, the impact of delayed adoption, international adoption, skipped-generation kinship (ie, grandparents as adoptive parents), and open adoption. The second highway is also fraught with problems, and here we learn about the frantic search for a baby, during which prospective parents submit themselves to a variety of methodologies schematized in a table outlining the donors (providers of ovum or sperm) the gestational or surrogate mother, the locus of fertilization, and the intentional, or psychological parents. They, in turn, can be of different genders or the same gender; 1 parent or 2 parents. In the face of this variety of combinations and permutations, the idea of human cloning seems to be, at least conceptually, a simple solution.

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