The history of adoption in the UK

Front cover, featuring a child holding a parasol.

Review of …
A Child for Keeps: the History of Adoption in England, 1918-45
by Jenny Keating {Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, ISBN: 9780230517882; 288pp.; Price: £50.00}
from Dr Daniel Grey {St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham}

Child adoption had no legal status in Britain (including under the separate legal system of Scotland) until 1926, when the first Act was passed which regulated this in England and Wales. Until then, child adoption was an informal and generally secretive procedure which gave the adoptive parents no rights whatsoever: a biological parent could (and in some cases, did) appear at any time and demand custody of a child they had neither seen nor contributed to the care of for years at a time.

I have read some of this book in use for a university assignment, and it is VERY well written. Were it not so expensive, it would certainly be on my wishlist.

Struggle for Identity: Issues Underlying the Enactment of the 1926 Adoption of Children Act
by Jenny Keating
University of Sussex Journal of Contemporary History, 3 (2001)

Until the 1920s, adoption in England was an informal arrangement. Eighteenth and nineteenth century novels frequently feature stories of orphans, benefactors and guardians1 but in fact, apart from rare wardship and guardianship proceedings which only the rich could afford, the only adopted children with any legal status prior to 1926 were those placed for adoption under the 1899 Poor Law Act by the Boards of Guardians. Other children living as family with people who were not their parents remained the legal responsibility of their natural parents. Only after the First World War did a demand arise for a legal system of adoption, fuelled by the growth of independent adoption societies and by continuing concern about ‘baby farming’. This article looks at the campaign in some detail and discusses differences in attitude among the protagonists over issues such as secrecy.

Another well written article. Reading as an adoptee currently engaged in a fight to over-throw some aspects of contemporary adoption, it is disturbing to see that even back then, it was the baby-brokers that pushed for all things traumatising to the adoptee, so that the adopters could “be protected”.

About 7rin

UK Adoptee - Adopted in the UK Adoption - because "legalised child abandonment" just doesn't bring in the punters. View all posts by 7rin

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