A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, by J. Keating

By J. Keating

The background 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 legislations from legalization in 1926, to law and reform within the Nineteen Thirties, with laws ultimately being enforced in 1943 amid main issue approximately informal wartime adoptions.

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Additional info for A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918-45

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Lord Eldon LC explained in 182775 that this was because the Court could only act when it had the means to do so, that is, by being able to apply resources for the use and maintenance of the infants in its care. However, the sums involved eventually became relatively small – it became customary that if a small amount was settled on the child, proceedings could be brought for its administration. The Court of Chancery would then act on the child’s behalf, especially if all that was required was the removal or appointment of a guardian.

Although they concentrated mainly on bringing children up in residential homes, by 1892 they were ‘boarding out’ or fostering younger children with ‘approved families’. 3 The Salvation Army’s witness to the Hopkinson Committee in 1920, Commissioner Adelaide Cox, said that the Army had arranged about five hundred adoptions in the previous thirty years. The witness for Dr Barnardo’s, Dr Margaret Hudson, was adamant that the only form of adoption occurring through her organisation was where the foster parents with whom they had placed children grew so fond of their charges that they decided to maintain them without pay from Dr Barnardo’s, but both she and Commissioner Cox also described the wide-scale emigration of children to the colonies, mainly Canada and Australia, organised through their agencies.

He also suggests that as some of the poorer communities became more settled from the 1880s onwards, the stabilising influence of married women, in providing support and continuity was immense: It was this, together with the practice of a courting couple marrying if a girl became pregnant, which was as great an influence in the decline of the national rate of illegitimacy as was the increased use of contraceptives. 6. 87 Setting the Scene 33 In fact, the fall in illegitimacy rates was less consistent than this implies, although overall the trend into the 1930s was certainly down.

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