In 1960s America, at the height of the Baby Boom, women were encouraged to stay home and raise large families, but sex and childbirth were taboo subjects. Premarital sex was common, but birth control was hard to get and abortion was illegal. In 1961, sixteen-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Her unsympathetic family sent her to a maternity home. In the hospital, she wasn’t even allowed her to hold her own son. After she was finally coerced into signing away her parental rights, her son vanished into an adoption agency’s hold. American Baby lays out how a lucrative and exploitative industry removed children from their birth mothers and placed them with hopeful families, fabricating stories about infants’ origins and destinations, then closing the door firmly between the parties forever. It struck shady deals with doctors and researchers for pseudoscientific “assessments,” and shamed millions of young women into surrendering their children. Margaret went on to marry and raise a large family with David’s father, but she never stopped longing for and worrying about her firstborn. She didn’t know he spent the first years of his life living just a few blocks away from her; as he grew, he wondered about where he came from and why he was given up. Their tale — one they share with millions of Americans — is one of loss, love, and the search for identity. Adoption’s closed records are being legally challenged in states nationwide.
American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption
- From the Publisher
September 1, 2019
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