American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Secret History of Adoption

American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Secret History of Adoption

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Author/Contributor(s): Glaser, Gabrielle
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date: 01/25/2022
Binding: Paperback
Condition: NEW
A New York Times Notable Book

The shocking truth about postwar adoption in America, told through the bittersweet story of one teenager, the son she was forced to relinquish, and their search to find each other.

"[T]his book about the past might foreshadow a coming shift in the future... 'I don't think any legislators in those states who are anti-abortion are actually thinking, "Oh, great, these single women are gonna raise more children." No, their hope is that those children will be placed for adoption. But is that the reality? I doubt it.'"[says Glaser]" -Mother Jones

During the Baby Boom in 1960s America, women were encouraged to stay home and raise large families, but sex and childbirth were taboo subjects. Premarital sex was common, but birth control was hard to get and abortion was illegal. In 1961, sixteen-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Her enraged family sent her to a maternity home, where social workers threatened her with jail until she signed away her parental rights. Her son vanished, his whereabouts and new identity known only to an adoption agency that would never share the slightest detail about his fate.

The adoption business was founded on secrecy and lies. American Baby lays out how a lucrative and exploitative industry removed children from their birth mothers and placed them with hopeful families, fabricating stories about infants' origins and destinations, then closing the door firmly between the parties forever. Adoption agencies and other organizations that purported to help pregnant women struck unethical deals with doctors and researchers for pseudoscientific assessments, and shamed millions of women into surrendering their children.

The identities of many who were adopted or who surrendered a child in the postwar decades are still locked in sealed files. Gabrielle Glaser dramatically illustrates in Margaret and David's tale--one they share with millions of Americans--a story of loss, love, and the search for identity.