The Adoption Institute recognizes 1.5 million adopted children at this time in the United States, which is over two percent of all children. About five million people in the US, both children and adults, were adopted, at a contemporary rate of about 100,000 adoptions a year. 60 percent of all Americans know an adopted person, know someone who has adopted a child or know a mother who has relinquished her child to adoption. This substantial sized group of the American public has unique and personal needs and desires in both private and political realms. These political opinions include both sides of the debate on confidentiality of birth records, a desire to further educate the American public on the option of adoption, and the struggle to uniform state regulations regarding adoption. Adoption is "the legal process which creates the status of parent and child between individuals who are not each other's biological parent or child" (Hollinger 1993). This legal process, however, can occur in many different forms. There are five main subgroups of adoptions as recognized by law: intrafamily adoptions, or adoptions by a stepparent, adoptions of foreign born children, adoptions of older children, adoptions of Native American children, and finally the adoption of infants by unrelated adults. Another differentiation made in adoption is whether it is public or private. A private adoption is regulated by a state licensed company and completely separates the birthparents from the adoptive parents. A public adoption involves participation by the birthmother in choosing the adoptive parents, as well as continued communication after the adoption. This paper focuses on the private adoption of domestic infants by unrelated adults (Hollinger 1993). One of the main problems with studying adoption in America is the unreliability and sporadic nature of statistics. Because adoption is mandated through state laws, not federal, the national government cannot demand reports on adoption. Additionally, the many different types of adoptions, public, private, state licensed agencies, non profit and for profit all confuse and compound numbers. That qualified, the majority of information on adoption is most easily understood and relatable through percentages.
Adoption of unrelated infants originated throughout American culture as a solution for families with no biological heir. This practice was largely unregulated by either state or the federal government until the Massachusetts Act of 1851 set the provisions that the adoption proceedings must be overseen by a judge and for the first time the proceedings involved the legal dissolution of all parental rights by the biological parents. In 1891 Michigan passed legislation requiring the judge in proceedings to be satisfied concerning the moral fiber of the adoptive parents and the first specialized adoption agencies began to appear throughout the country during the next two decades. The next largely influential adoption policy was the 1917 Minnesota Children's Clause, the first state legislation to privatize birth records. This policy made records confidential to people outside the "adoption triad" which includes the birth parents, the adoptee, and the adoptive parents. It also required home studies of the homes into which the state placed children (ADOPTION HISTORY PROJECT). It was the first of its kind to address the stigma of adoption and in the conservative social environment of the early 1900's, the government sought to protect adoptees and the adoptive parents from prying neighbors and even blackmailers by making birth records confidential. As the century progressed, so did adoption. The number of children being adopted soared, from 33,800 in 1951 to 89,200 in 1971 (Stolley, 1993: Fig. 1). After the increase in adoptable babies due to larger number of illegitimate births during World War II and societal acceptance of pregnancy, the institution of adoption flourished and necessitated new...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document