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Non Fiction

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

Gabrielle Glaser


In 2021, American journalist Gabrielle Glaser published American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption.

Glaser used the case study of a teenage girl and her baby to tell the story of the mid-century practice of sending off ‘unwed’ girls and women to have their babies in secret and then ‘relinquish’ them to an adopting couple.

For the next 50 years, the mother in the story, Margaret, regrets the loss of her son; the adoptive parents are bewildered by their son; and the son, David, hears he was chosen by his adoptive parents but wonders why his birth mother rejected him.

There was something about post-war America, argues, Glaser, that encouraged the creation of ‘perfect’ nuclear families. Yet the adoption agencies collecting fees didn’t consider the feelings of adoptees, let alone that crucial medical information was not being passed along.

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