Any practice or social institution which is increasing at a rapid rate deserves review by the professions involved and by the public, to see where it is going and how it is getting there. This question of adoption is a vast national problem and one that concerns medical and legal practitioners, the courts, public health, public or private social agencies. Adoptions in the United States have increased 80% in the last 10 years, and the increase appears to be continuing. The reasons for this phenomenon are probably many and mixed. Underlying them is the widespread interest in family life, in wanting children and more children as evidenced by the increase in the birth rate and in the size of families. Even college graduates, traditionally the low birth-rate group, are having bigger families today.
As a background for the more specific papers to follow, I should like to present an over-all view of the extent of the problem and some of the major issues involved.
There is no over-all national pattern of adoption procedure in the United States as defined by law or as carried out in practice. Just as laws vary from state to state—on marriage, divorce, taxation, or civil rights— so laws relating to adoption vary. Much of our legal machinery, furthermore, is concerned with the process of legalizing the status of the child, of finishing the job and tying the knot, and not with the core of the problem—the placement of a child for adoption. There are great differences in social agencies. Their practices as well as their philosophy are undergoing study and reappraisal all the time—and especially now.
- Copyright © 1957 by the American Academy of Pediatrics