Adoption has been a politically charged subject since the Progressive Era, when it first became an established part of child welfare reform over one hundred years ago. InA Home for Every Child, Patricia Susan Hart looks at how, when, and why modern ...
adoption practices became a part of child welfare policy. The Washington Children's Home Society, now the Children's Home Society of Washington, was founded in 1896 specifically to place children into adoptive and foster homes as methods of dealing with child abuse, neglect and homelessness. The stories of the birth parents and the relinquished children show how hard it was to live up to the ideal of being a self-made success in the West at the end of the nineteenth century. A portrayal of their experiences adds to the picture of expansion and industrialisation of the West. Research on adoption has been hampered by the lack of access to adoption archives. With access to case files and other rare archival documents from the early years of the Washington Children's Home Society, the author learned why some parents relinquished their children and others adopted them. Through these sources we learn how adoptive parents embraced their new family members and introduced them to their communities. We also hear from the children themselves as they tell how they adjusted to their new homes among strangers. Debates about nature versus nurture, fears about immigration, and anxieties about race and class division all informed child welfare policy makers of the period. The author sheds new light on the social, cultural and political factors that affected adopted children, their parents and those who administered dozens of pioneering institutions like the Washington Children's Home Society. Patricia Susan Hart is associate professor of journalism and American studies at the University of Idaho.
Number of pages: 272
Date of publication: 11/03/2011
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