A Look at Adoption over the Course of History

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Adoption is something that has occurred since antiquity. Adoption is a permanent change in status for children whereby the adoptive parents are legally given the same rights as if they were the birth parents. Modern-day adoptions are governed by a complete group of regulations and statutes that have been put in place by governments around the world. 

As the Wikipedia entry on adoption, found here, notes, adoptions has been practiced around the world throughout the course of human history. It was part of the Code of Hammurabi which went into details about both the rights and responsibilities of both adopters and children. Unlike today, though, it was not abandoned infants and children that were adopted. They were usually made slaves instead. It was more about solidifying political and family relationships in the western world when someone older was adopted by a different set of parents. In the eastern world, people were adopted for cultural and religious reasons. 

In the middle of the 1800s, many orphanages in the United States were crowded by orphans. One Protestant minister was alarmed by the number of homeless children in New York City and decided something needed to be done about it. It wasn’t out of concern for the children, though, that he promoted adoption but rather that he thought these children were a threat to the order of the city. 

This Protestant minister wrote a book about homeless children which resulted in them being rounded up from cities on the east coast and shipped off to rural parts of the country where they would work on farms. The children were at first indentured but over time many families started to formally adopt these children and make them part of the family. 

In response to what happened to these children a program called the Orphan Train movement was found and state and federal governments started to put in place adoption laws. The aim was to end the orphanage system and instead place children in the home of loving adoptive parents. One of our greatest presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, put together a conference on how to best go about transitioning children from orphanages to adoptive homes. 

Many children have now been adopted into homes, especially in the United States. There are adopt agency Nevada and in every other state that help connect parents and children. While adoption is common nowadays there are still issues to be resolved. This news article details the challenges that same-sex couples continue to face in several states when they want to adopt. Some states have laws in place that allow adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples wanting to adopt based on their own religious beliefs. They argue that their religious beliefs trump the rights of people in same-sex marriages to act as a married couple when it comes to adoption. 

Opponents of these laws have called them state-sponsored discrimination. The critics of these laws also point out that there is more need for adoption than there is demand. By discriminating against same-sex couples these laws keep children in the system rather than going to a home where they will be cared for and loved.


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