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Adoption in America

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Adoption in America

"Adoption is not about finding children for families, it's about finding families for children" - Joyce Maguire Pavao

Adoption is more than giving a child a home. Adoption is about creating a family. People adopt children for all sorts of reasons: suffering infertility, being a single parent and wanting children, and having sympathy towards orphaned children just to name a few. Adoption is a huge part of American society, and has always been important to America's culture.

Little do people know that people we hear about everyday are adopted. There are hundreds of famous people that have been adopted when young: Faith Hill, Jesse Jackson, Nancy Regan, President Gerald Ford, Sarah McLachlan, Tim McGraw, and Scott Hamilton, whom are all still alive. John Lennon, Malcolm X, Nat King Cole, Eleanor Roosevelt, Edgar Allan Poe, and Dave Thomas have all been adopted as well, however they are all deceased (Adoption Celebrities).

Adoption in America has been around since the 1850. It all started with what is called The Massachusetts Adoption of Children Act. The act says that a family can adopt into their own home a child of choice. If the parents of the child are still alive, then they must give legal consent to the pair that wants to adopt the child. If the parents are not alive, then the state must give consent. The act also says that if the child is of 14 years of

age or older, then it is his or her decision to whether they want to be adopted or not (Herman, Helen).

The first adoption agencies started between the years of 1910 and the 1930s. The very first agency was called the Free Synagogue Child Adoption Committee, which was founded by Louise Wise. The second was called the Spence Alumni Society, founded by Clara Spence. Others were the Alice Chapin Nursery and Cradle founded by Alice Chapin and Florence Walrath (Herman Helen).

As the turn of the century came, adoption became more and more popular, and the adoption rates soared. Legalization of a relative also became popular. If the parents of a child die, often times they will pick guardians for their children so they do not have to be adopted by strangers. This is usually clearly stated in a will. Before the 1970s, people never took it upon themselves to take advantage of this right (Herman Helen).

Now, in the 21st century, there is an average of five million adopted people alive in America today. In the year 2000, a new option on the national census appeared: "Do

you have an adopted son or daughter?" This allowed America to keep track of how many people have been adopted without sending for records from social service groups all around the country (Herman, Helen).

The adoption process differs, or has differed, depending on the family's race. During the 1960s and 1970s not many white families even came close to considering adopting a child that was African-American or Native American. During the twentieth, many adoption agencies turned down their services because they were African-American, or even because of their religion. African American children had to rely on their

remaining family members to take them in if their birth parents are dead (Herman, Helen).

The very first recorded transracial adoption was made in 1948. A white couple in 1948 who lived in Minnesota foster housed a six week old African American girl. When the girl turned nine years old, the family adopted her against their social worker's wishes. After this, families who adopted outside of their race became targets of cruelty and harassment (Herman, Helen).

Because transracial adoptions were still not popular in the 1950s, parentless African-American children numbers significantly increased. Over 50,000 children were in need of homes and families, and had no where to go in the meantime. In 1955, the "Adopt-A-Child Foundation" was established. Over 800 children were adopted during its 5 year reign, and 4000 eligible families applied for adopting a child. Not only were African-American children part of the organization, but Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and Hawaiian as well. In 1970, transracial adoptions peeked, and 2,500 black children were adopted by white families (Herman, Helen).

After this foundation took off, more foundations began to erupt. In Minnesota, the Children's Home Society started Parents to Adopt Minority Youngsters. Oregon founded Operation Brown Baby, which was run by the Boys and Girls Aid Society. These foundations did not necessarily promote transracial adoptions, but many white couples applied to adopt outside of their race through these programs (Herman Helen).

The Native American population in the US also had an issue with adoption as well. The Indian Adoption Project began in 1958 and lasted until 1967. Adoption

agencies that wanted to, could help participate in this organization. This project took 395 Native American children and placed them in white homes all around the country, and even in Puerto Rico (Herman Helen).

Single parents' adoptions have slowly been increasing throughout the years. Every state in America has legally permits a single person to adopt a child since the first adoption laws were passed in the mid 1800s. Even during the 1900s, people who were gay or lesbian often applied for adoption and said that they were single so they would be able to get a child. Divorce is the main reason for single parenting. Adoption agencies much prefer married couples over a single person adopting because many times the children involved feel that they were not good enough for a married couple and extremely shameful (Herman Helen).

Adoption is a very long and complicated process. There is a series of important steps that a couple or person must follow. The first of these steps is to learn about adoption. The easiest way to learn about adoption is to read books, magazines, and research it on the internet. The second step is finding an agency that works for you. Over the internet and in magazines, you can find phone numbers and addresses for potential adoption agencies. More than often adoption agencies will send out pamphlets and information if it is asked of them (National Adoption Center).

The next step is having a home study completed. A home study is when you have a sequence of meetings with your social worker. For these meetings a marriage license, birth certificate, and child abuse clearance certificate must be presented. After the home study, the next phase is finding the child that you want to adopt. The social worker that is

chosen can network and talk with the adoption agency that you have chosen and find the

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