Editorials

Adoption

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7302.1556 (Published 30 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1556
  1. Mary Mather (marymather@doctors.org.uk), consultant community paediatrician and chair of medical group
  1. British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, London SE1 0LX

    The opportunity to give a child a second chance deserves health and social support

    One of the earliest adoptions in the Western tradition was that of Moses, rescued by the daughter of Pharaoh, a rich and possibly single parent. He grew up in a transracial and transreligious placement, which ran into difficulties when he discovered the true family and religion of his birth. Over 3000 years later the public on two continents were transfixed by the story of twins bought on the internet.1 Adoption, a way of providing a child with a substitute family, generates strong feelings and has always been influenced by social change.

    Adoption became legal in the United Kingdom in 1926 in response to the first world war and the 1918 influenza epidemic, and it became practicable with the development of safe artificial infant feeding. For the next 50 years adoption practice was primarily about finding babies for childless couples. The “perfect” baby was newborn, white, and developmentally normal. Since there were always more applicants than babies the definition of “the perfect adopter” could be restricted by age, marital and professional status, and wealth. Adoption practice was designed to prevent birth and adoptive parents from meeting and sharing identifying …

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