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 legislation from legalization in 1926, to legislation and reform within the Thirties, with laws eventually being enforced in 1943 amid obstacle approximately informal wartime adoptions.
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Extra info for A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918–45
In 1920 there was a vast drop in the actual number of illegitimate births to 15,000. 88 Family support and the covering up of illegitimacy provided some protection for young unmarried mothers in poor but stable communities against being placed in a mental hospital under the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913. This legislation gave powers to local authorities to certify pregnant women who were homeless, destitute or deemed ‘immoral’ and detain them indefinitely. 90 The Mental Deficiency Act came about, as Matthew Thomson described, because of the increasing linkage between ‘immorality’ and ‘imbecility’: In the last quarter of the [nineteenth] century an increasing number of the women in rescue homes were reported as being feeble-minded.
It was formed in 1889 from some of the societies for the prevention of cruelty to children, which were set up from 1883. Their agitation had already led to the passing of the Prevention of Cruelty to, and Better Protection of, Children Act 1889. This established for the first time that Setting the Scene 25 the State could interfere in the family in order to prevent hardship or danger to children. Ill treatment of boys to the age of fourteen and girls to age sixteen was now a punishable offence.
These ladies gave the mothers instruction Setting the Scene 21 about how to improve the care and nutrition of their children and the management of their homes. As well as home visits, maternity and child welfare centres were organised where mothers could go for advice and classes to learn about their children’s development. ’49 The years leading up to the First World War also saw the beginning of the eugenics movement (the Eugenics Education Society was formed in 1907, renamed the Eugenics Society in 1926), which was concerned with the falling birth rate, the ‘degeneration’ and the mental and physical condition of the nation.
A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918–45 by J. Keating