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HISTORY OF ADOPTION IN THE UNITED STATES


TIMELINE OF ADOPTION HISTORY IN BRIEF - 1920-1946

1921 - Child Welfare League of America formally renamed and organized. The League adopted a Constitution that defined standard-setting as one of the organization's core purposes; American Association of Social Workers founded.

1924 - First major outcome study, How Foster Children Turn Out, published.

1927 - Ida Parker conducts a study of adoptions in Boston, and discovers that nearly 70 percent of them are independent. Adoptions are often arranged through attorneys rather than agencies or governmental organizations. Open adoptions (where the birth mother meets the adoptive parents) are the norm. Many unwed mothers advertise their children for sale in newspapers.

1929 - After 75 years, the "orphan train" movement ends. The Orphan Train was a social experiment that transported children from crowded coastal cities of the United States to the country's Midwest for adoption. By the end of its run, an estimated 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children were relocated.

1933 - Edna Gladney successfully lobbies to have references to "illegitimacy" removed from birth certificates in Texas. At this time, many states mention children's out-of-wedlock status on their birth certificates, or else issue them birth certificates of a different color.

1934 - The state of Iowa began administering mental tests to all children placed for adoption in hopes of preventing the unwitting adoption of retarded children (called "feeble-minded" at the time). This policy inspired nature-nurture studies at the Iowa Child Welfare Station that eventually served to challenge hereditarian orthodoxies and promote policies of early family placement.

1935 - Social Security Act included provision for aid to dependent children, crippled children's programs, and child welfare, which eventually led to a dramatic expansion of foster care; American Youth Congress issued "The Declaration of the Rights of American Youth".

1937-1938 - First Child Welfare League of America initiative that distinguished minimum standards for permanent (adoptive) and temporary (foster) placements.

1938 - The Child Welfare League advocates secrecy in adoption proceedings.

1939 - Valentine P. Wasson published The Chosen Baby, a landmark in the literature on telling children about their adopted status.

1944 - In Prince v. Massachusetts, a case involving Jehovah's Witnesses, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state's power as parens patriae to restrict parental control in order to guard "the general interest in youth's well being."

 

From: The Adoption History Project website www.uoregon.edu/~adoption/index.html Used With Permission.

 

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