In our previous blog post, we took a look at early adoption. Early adoption has evolved over the years from being used to strengthen royal families to having the church take over orphans and finally to having orphans being turned into little more than slaves. Life was not fun if you were an orphan before the 19th century. In fact, you could expect a life of hardship and a very short life expectancy.
AIM Adoptions is an adoption agency in Houston, Texas. We match children given up for adoption by birth mothers to a good home where their prospects are good for a happy, healthy, fulfilled life. We are a non-profit, Christian-based adoption agency that helps any birth mother who needs it. We help with medical care, as well as with financial needs, housing, and transportation. Below, we’ll continue our blog series on the history of adoption by taking a look at adoption in the United States. If you are in Texas, give us a call today to get started!
HISTORY OF ADOPTION IN THE UNITED STATES
The United States continued the tradition of the British who used orphans as little more than slave labor. We have documentation of the first of this kind occuring in 1636 with a seven year-old boy in the colony of Jamestown. However, with the Industrial Revolution and the prominence of child labor in factories thanks to writers such as Charles Dickens who brought the problem to the forefront with his novels, ideas about adoption began to change as life got a bit easier and Americans grew a bit wealthier.
The idea that the child’s interests should be put before the interests of the adoptive parents’ was first institutionalized in 1851 with the passage of the Massachusetts Adoption of Children Act that became the first US law to protect children in adoption situations. The adoptive parents now had to prove they had the consent of the biological parents to raise the child, and the adoptive parents had to prove they had the ability to raise the child and educate them.
While this was progress, progress got derailed as the American Civil War consumed all of America. Orphanages were overrunning and children on the streets of big cities in America were overwhelming. The Orphan Train idea began, which shipped almost 200,000 children from the big cities in the east to families in the west. However, this was basically shipping the children to be indentured servants out there as well. This was the largest migration of children in the history of the world, and so many became farm laborers and household servants, exploited and abused, that finally America took note. New laws were passed helping orphans, and Minnesota pioneered the closed adoption process with a law in 1917 where records were limited and adoptive parents were vetted.
AIM Adoptions in Houston notes that the Progressive movement continued in the United States, taking orphans and adoption laws with it. President Theodore Roosevelt declared that the nuclear family should be of the highest priority. However, many resisted the idea, instead preferring their own families above others.
After World War II, a new problem arose that hadn’t been present before: the growth in illegitimate births, which fueled the need for adoptive families. However, due to the past precedence of secrecy in adoptions that stemmed from the Orphan Train movement, adoption records were sealed. Furthermore, while societal morals were loosened, unwed mothers were still looked down upon, which led to many women hiding their pregnancies from friends and family and giving up their babies with no chance to see them in the future.
As society and technology continued to grow, change, and progress, ideas about adoption changed again. AIM Adoptions in Houston notes that a push was made for open adoption so that adopted children could know their birth parents and birth parents could know their children. The number of unplanned pregnancies dropped as education efforts and birth control methods spread, as well as abortion was legalized. Furthermore, more unwed mothers were opting to keep their babies, as society was more accepting of this and pushed for the development of the family system.
Adoption today is less common than at its peak in 1970, yet it is more accepted in society. While Europe and Asian countries have adopted the American model, adoption rates remain much lower than here.
AIM Adoptions is an adoption agency in Houston, Texas. We have been helping unplanned birth mothers for over 30 years find their babies a good home. We take our role seriously and allow the birth mother a lot of leeway. She can choose whether she wants an open or a closed adoption (the vast majority choose an open adoption), and the birth mother has the final say in the family. As a Christian-based adoption agency, we stress the importance of a traditional married couple who are believers and how can provide a financially stable home for the adopted baby. We offer help throughout the adoption process, which can be quite complicated. In addition, we offer post-adoption services to continue to support our adoptive parents and the birth mother. We are creating families for life, and thus, we want to be there for life as well.
If you live in Texas and are facing an unplanned pregnancy, or you want to get on our waiting list of adoptive families, give us a call to get started today!