Abortion, adoption, birth control, child welfare, history international adoption, Mothers' Pensions, Operation Babylift, open adoption, orphan train, policy, secrecy, women's rights


Adoption is closely intertwined with many issues that are central to public policy in this country-welfare and poverty, race and class, and gender. An analysis of the history of adoption shows how it has been shaped by the nation's mores and demographics. In order to better understand this phenomenon, and its significance to larger societal issues, this analysis reviews its historyfocusing on four key periods in which this country's adoption policy was shaped: the late Nineteenth Century's 'orphan trains'; the family preservation and Mothers' Pensions of the Progressive Era; World War II through the 1950s, with secrecy and the beginnings of international adoption; and the 1970s-1990s, when reproductive controls were more obtainable, and relinquishing children became more uncommon.

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