Relinquished: The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood

Regular price $ 29.00

by Gretchen Sisson

St. Martin's Press

2/27/2024, paperback

SKU: 9781250286772


A powerful decade-long study of adoption in the age of Roe, revealing the grief of the American mothers for whom the choice to parent was never real

Adoption has always been viewed as a beloved institution for building families, as well as a mutually agreeable common ground in the abortion debate, but little attention has been paid to the lives of mothers who relinquish infants for private adoption. Relinquished reveals adoption to be a path of constrained choice for those for whom abortion is inaccessible, or for whom parenthood is untenable. The stories of relinquishing mothers are stories about our country's refusal to care for families at the most basic level, and to instead embrace an individual, private solution to a large-scale, social problem.

With the recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization revoking abortion protections, we are in a political moment in which adoption is, increasingly, being revealed as an institution devoted to separating families and policing parenthood under the guise of feel-good family-building. Rooted in a long-term study, Relinquished features the in-depth testimonies of American mothers who placed their children for domestic adoption. The voices of these women are powerful and heartrending; they deserve to be heard.


"Meticulously and empathetically researched. The stories of these women are gripping, intimate, and powerful." -- Anna Malaika Tubbs, sociologist and author of The Three Mothers

"Sisson offers us a set of rich, sharply illuminating and very personal adoption stories along with her own equally powerful context and analysis. This book shows us the harmful inadequacies of the position, championed by Justices Alito and Coney Barrett in the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, that adoption is the best, moral alternative." -- Rickie Solinger, co-author (with Loretta Ross), Reproductive Justice: An Introduction; and author, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States

About the Author:

Gretchen Sisson, Ph.D., is a qualitative sociologist studying abortion and adoption at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at University of California, San Francisco. Her research was cited in the Supreme Court's dissent in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization and has been covered in The Washington PostThe NationAll Things Considered and Consider ThisNew York MagazineVOX, and other outlets.