According to the U.S. State Department, over 7,000 children were adopted by families in 2012. While modern adoption has gained acceptance and recognition around the world, the beginnings of adoption were a little bit different.
To help you better understand the roots of modern adoption programs, here’s a look at the history of adoption practices in the United States.
Before we move to the U.S., it’s important to understand that adoption has been around for far longer than even the oldest United States of America. Wealthy, aristocratic families would often adopt young men when they had failed to produce a legitimate male heir. Even Roman emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius were adopted. Later, during the Middle Ages, the Catholic church started to encourage adoption as a means of easing the suffering of orphaned children.
Adoption in Early America
From the first days of the U.S. and through the present, numerous situations have left children orphaned. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, though, that adoption began to develop a more formalized process. As the number of adoptions increased, the need to create laws surrounding the practice became apparent. As a result, Massachusetts became the first state to pass an adoption statute in 1851.
Adoption Gains Popularity
Around the time of the first World War, there was an increasing demand for adoptive children. This was also the era in which “closed adoptions” became the standard. The process of a closed adoption, in which the identities of birth parents and adoptive parents are kept from a child, was believed to ease children into a family lifestyle without questioning their blood-relation to their adoptive parents. The 1970’s ushered in a new era of “open adoption” and saw more private placement adoptions, in which couples could reach out to birth mothers through an ad.
In recent decades, modern adoption practices have allowed parents to adopt children from the other side of the world. International adoption became prevalent in the U.S. during the late 20th century, and continues to be a popular process. Today, many families look to countries like Vietnam and India for children in need of loving homes.
Working with an adoption agency can be a vastly rewarding process. Not only can an adoption agency help build families, it can help build better lives for children around the world.