A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, by J. Keating

By J. Keating

The heritage of adoption from 1918-1945, detailing the increase of adoption, the expansion of adoption societies and contemplating the expanding emphasis on secrecy in adoption. Analyses adoption legislations from legalization in 1926, to law and reform within the Thirties, with rules ultimately being enforced in 1943 amid trouble approximately informal wartime adoptions.

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Extra resources for A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918–45

Example text

He described the regime for unmarried mothers and their children in the 1920s. Women would be sent there by their parents when they became pregnant: The ladies came … into the workhouse and did domestic work, cleaning up and washing and they did that until such time as the baby was due and then they were moved into another section to have the baby. Whilst they were with the baby and providing they were feeding the baby they stayed there looking after the babies in the nursery. They came back again, if they had nowhere to go, back into the workhouse to do ordinary domestic work.

Although the individual illegitimate child had occasionally prospered, in general the position of unmarried mothers and their children had been dire: Illegitimacy was an offence against Christian morality and the institution of marriage; because of the cost which was laid upon the parish and public charity, it was an offence against the well-being of society. 77 Poor Law practice discriminated against them, judging them to be a particularly wanton example of self-induced poverty. 78 As with other paupers, many were forcibly returned to their original home area under the settlement laws.

In their detailed survey of social services during the Second World War, Sheila Ferguson and Hilda Fitzgerald reviewed the provision before the war: In large areas of Britain there were neither voluntary nor public homes for unmarried mothers … Nobody knew exactly the size, type and quality of the existing voluntary services for unmarried mothers. 104 If a woman produced a second illegitimate child she was deemed irremediably ‘fallen’ and there was no alternative to what had until recently been called the workhouse, or a few Salvation Army hostels.

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A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, by J. Keating
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