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

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

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

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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.

Gabrielle Glaser is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist whose work on mental health, medicine, and culture has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and many other publications. She has appeared on many national radio and television programs, including NPR's Fresh Air, All Things Considered, WNYC's On the Media, and The Brian Lehrer Show, NBC's Nightly News, and ABC's World NewsTonight.

ISBN: 9780735224704

ISBN-10: 9780735224704

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication Date: 01/25/2022 - 12:00am

On Sale: 01/25/2022 - 12:00am

Pages: 352

Language: English

Categories

Family & Relationships / Adoption & Fostering

Social Science / Women's Studies

Social Science / Gender Studies