Adoption has been a politically charged subject since the Progressive Era, when it first became an established part of child welfare reform. In A Home for Every Child, Patricia Susan Hart looks at how, when, and why modern adoption practices became a part of child welfare policy.
The Washington Children’s Home Society (now the Children’s Home Society of Washington) was founded in 1896 to place children into adoptive and foster homes as a means of dealing with child abuse, neglect, and homelessness. Hart reveals why birth parents relinquished their children to the Society, how adoptive parents embraced these vulnerable family members, and how the children adjusted to their new homes among strangers.
Debates about nature versus nurture, fears about immigration, and anxieties about race and class informed child welfare policy during the Progressive Era. Hart sheds new light on that period of time and the social, cultural, and political factors that affected adopted children, their parents, and administrators of pioneering institutions like the Washington Children’s Home Society.