Before working in the entertainment industry, he served in the Peace Corps in Colombia, working on educational television programs and audio-visual programming. In 1977, he was accepted into the Directors Guild-Producers Assistant Director Training Program and worked as a Trainee on such films as The Swarm and The Frisco Kid, as well as the 1978 television series Battlestar Galactica.
Adleman went on to become a Key Second A.D. on features including King of the Mountain, Nice Dreams, and Independence Day; on movies for television such as Scruples and White Water Rebels; and on television series like Knight Rider. He then became the First A.D. on the ground-breaking series Hill Street Blues, which won DGA Awards in 1984 and 1985. Adelman has also worked as First A.D. on the feature films Hoosiers; No Way Out; Alien Nation; and Say Anything; and on television movies and mini-series including A Year in the Life; Daddy; Terrorist on Trial; Favorite Son; and The Karen Carpenter Story. In the 1990s, he moved into unit production managing and producing for television series like the critically-acclaimed In the Heat of the Night; Chicago Hope; Space: Above and Beyond; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; The Pretender; the Emmy-nominated Joan of Arcadia; and Criminal Minds.
From 1980 to 1990, Adelman served as a Trustee of the DGA's A.D. Training Program. He also served as a DGA National Board member for six terms and as an Associate member for an additional seven terms. He was a member of the DGA AD/UPM Council West for eleven terms, as Second Vice Chair from 2001-2002 and as Secretary-Treasurer from 2003-2004 and 2009-2010, and was member of seven DGA Negotiating Committees, co-chairing the 1984 and 1987 AD/UPM Negotiating Committees. In 2005, Adelman received the Frank Capra Achievement Award in recognition of his career achievement and service to the Guild.