The history of adoption is a long one that dates back hundreds of years. In the beginning, however, the practice of adoption was not the same it is today. The modern form of adoption, that has its roots in United States history, is seen as a form of creating a parent-child relationship where one may not exist. In ancient time, however, children were often mistreated and taken in for slave labor or other purposes.
Dating back to the Roman Empire, royalty would take in orphans for cheap labor or to continue the line of their ruling family. Often, if a son was not born in to the ruling family, they would take in an orphan as their own to raise. This way, he could become the heir of the throne and their family would not lose their place in society. Otherwise, children were taken in for labor purposes and put to work. The Catholic Church became aware of this, though, and began placing abandoned children in to convents where they would be treated better.
The Middle Ages saw a rise in abandoned children. Again, these orphans were used for work purposes or often ignored. The church stepped in again and began setting up orphanages to take in these children. They worked hard to find proper housing and care for them, and limit the amount of abandoned children on the streets.
Change came in the 19th century with the idea of “Orphan Asylums”. This was a practice of placing children in the care of businessmen, where both the adopter and the adoptee could help each other out. The businessman would teach the child their trade, giving the child a skill to fall back on, and the child would help the man by working for him. The businessman would also provide care and shelter for the child.
Up until 1851, however, government was not involved in the adoption process. The first adoption law was created in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This law required that all adoptions be made legal in a court system, include consent from birth parents and adopting parents, and require adopting parents to be eligible and able to care for the child. While this was an improvement upon earlier practices, laws were not enforced and were not clearly defined. It was often found that homes children were being placed into were not properly caring for them.
During the American Civil War, many children were found abandoned in the streets and accommodations for them became overcrowded. At this point the idea of “Orphan Trains” was thought up by Charles Brace. This practice put abandoned children on to trains and moved them westward toward farmland. While the idea was to provide homes for these children, it turned out that farmers were using them for labor and making them work for their housing.
Laws became stricter in 1917 with the passing of the Minnesota Adoption Law. At this time, adoption records were more diligently kept and were made confidential. This way, the public could not gain information about adoptive families. This reduced some of the stigma put on birth mothers and made adoptive parents feel the children were more their own.
Throughout the 1900s, improving the practice of adoption became of national importance. President Theodore Roosevelt set forth in removing any abuse from the system and providing loving homes for orphans. From this point on, conditions in the adoption system improved and stricter laws were passed, making the practice of adoption what it is today.
At Heart to Heart Adoptions, Utah, they maintain the utmost confidence that all laws are followed and extra care is put in to each adoption. They understand the importance of the practice, and realize that there should be no stigma involved. The agency works to make sure birth mothers and adoptive parents are comfortable and supported throughout the process. Heart to Heart Adoptions strives to find safe, loving homes for children throughout the country.