A Brief History
This chapter traces the history of adoption in America. It covers adoption in early America, the rise of the orphanage, the emergence of the adoption agency system, adoption practice following World War II, and gay and lesbian adoption. American adoption is a story intimately linked to larger social changes over three centuries. Once thought of as little laborers, children increasingly became cherished for themselves. Once imagined as a single model, family structure bent and reshaped itself to the winds of change. We now have families with stepchildren, with half-brothers and half-sisters and blends of both; families with children and parents of different races and colors, families with two mothers, and families with two fathers. Adoption has always been a kind of front line of social change in reimagining the family, the place where change has been most evident, most scrutinized, and most controversial. Over time, it has helped to lead the way to acceptance of a diversity of family forms.
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