Learn how the adoption process changed for expectant parents 

Placing your baby for adoption is quite the process, but it’s much different today than it was in the past. How has the adoption process changed? Learn all about the history of adoption, and see how much adoption has changed to what it is today. In this article, I’ll discuss how much the adoption placing process has changed for expectant parents. 

The Adoption Process During the 19th Century 

During the 19th century, adoptions were treated in a very confidential way. There was plenty of stigma surrounding unwed mothers and their children. Unwed mothers who had children were looked down upon by society and either chose to place their children up for adoption or were pressured into it by the birth fathers, doctors, or other family members. Illness, poverty, and family crises were other legitimate reasons unexpected parents placed their babies for adoption. Adoption was also kept in the family, meaning other relatives could adopt the baby 

Sometimes, the adoption process wasn’t always in the best interest of the baby. There were times where the adoptive parents were only looking at the financial benefits that they’d receive when adopting a newborn, rather than caring for the newborn’s well-being. If birth parents chose closed adoptions during this period, adoptive parents also chose to have their adopted children believe that they were never even adopted. 

Adoptions taking place in this time happened before the times of modern adoption. All unwed mothers and fathers, as well as their offspring, were considered illegitimate. Unwed mothers, fathers, and their children faced confinement, and babies were taken to baby farms to be sold for profit. Families of unwed mothers, fathers, and their children downcasted them and they were seen as a disgrace towards society. 

In the 1850s Through the 1970s

Adoption officially became a legal process in the 1850s, protecting the welfare of all children that were adopted, and waiting to be adopted. However, unwed mothers were still considered mentally ill by society, and that their babies could be rescued through adoption. This stigma expectant parents faced was brutal and cruel, and families downcasted their unwed expecting family members. 

Between the 1940s and the 1970s, a majority of birth parents weren’t married, and the vast majority were unmarried, young, working middle-class Caucasian women. These unmarried women were often downcast from their families and sent to far away maternity homes to wait out their babies’ birth. Also during this period, it has been estimated that 4 million mothers have placed their children for adoption. 

In 1948, the first transracial adoption took place with Caucasian parents adopting an African American child. In the periods before 1945, adoptions by African American parents were very rare, and many African American children and minority children required permanent families. In black families, illegitimate children were common, and sadly, the government didn’t see that adoption was necessary for these children, racially discriminating African Americans. The need for minority children to become adopted finally was taken seriously through The Special Needs Adoption Act following World War 2. The Special Needs Adoption Act had children that either had a disability, were of a minority race or were sibling groups. 

After World War 2 and up until the 1970s, the Baby Scoop Era took place. This era was a very difficult time for adoption because of the increasing amount of unwed mothers wanting to place their babies up for adoption, leading to many children in need of being adopted. These birth mothers very often regretted their decision to place their babies due to the overwhelming pressures of society. 

It wasn’t until the 1960s, where birth parents finally had gotten power when it came to the adoption placing process. With the Adoption Reform in the 1970s, adult adoptees and birth parents got to share their stories.

Up until the 1970s, only babies could have been adopted, and only by couples that were married. The catch to that was that the adopted children had to look like them. In 1972, the National Association of Black Social workers opposed transracial adoption, however, transracial adoptions have increased in America in the late 1970s and beyond. 

In 1976, a group called the Concerned United Birth Parents was founded. Their mission was to show support to the birth parents that had their parental rights turned over, to educate the people about adoption, and to show support to ethical adoption laws and practices. 

The term birth parent became official by adoption advocates in 1970, and birth parents finally had a voice and a say in the adoption placing process. In 1972, birth fathers gained legal say in the adoption placing process in the Stanley vs Illinois case. 

The 1980s to 2000s 

In the 1980s, the Adoption Assistance and Child Act gave funding to states that had resources for special needs adoption, family reunification, and prevention of abuse. Birth parents became more vocal with their parts of the adoption placing process, and were able to create adoption plans for their children. 

In 1994, the Multiethnic Placement Act had become the first federal law that dealt with race with adoptions. Transracial adoptions could no longer be denied by adoption agencies. In the late 1990s, open adoption became more common in the US. And in the 2000s, the Child Citizen Act allowed international adoptees to become US citizens. 

In 2004, there was a rapid decline in international adoptions because of rigid adoption regulations from different countries. 

How The Adoption Process is Today

Much has changed with the adoption placing process. Today, 95 percent of adoptions are either semi-open or open adoptions, and this makes everything easier for everyone involved in the adoption triad. There are many benefits to open adoption. Expectant parents have much more of a say in the adoption placing process. Here are things that expectant parents can do now that they couldn’t do in the past. 

Open adoption change: Adoptions in the past were closed adoptions, but now, open adoptions are the most common and beneficial for all involved in the adoption triad. 

Making an Adoption plan: In the past, expectant mothers couldn’t have a say when it came to the adoptions of their babies. Today, expectant parents can take complete control in creating their adoption plan for their baby.

Counseling: Expectant parents couldn’t receive counseling services in the past because it was taboo to talk about pregnancy. Also, unwed expectant mothers were deemed mentally incompetent, so society didn’t see a need for counseling services. Today, expectant parents can receive 24/7 support and guidance when it comes to facing an unexpected pregnancy. 

Wider Range of Services: Before, there were little to no services offered for expectant parents. Expectant mothers were usually sent away to a far away maternity home, and expectant fathers didn’t receive any services. Today, expectant parents receive a wide range of services including housing assistance, employment assistance, medical assistance, transportation services, maternity needs, and much more. 


Adoption options: Before, expectant parents didn’t have a choice in the adoption options. Today they can choose open, semi-open, closed, international, and transracial adoption options. 

Adoption safety: Adoptions are much safer and legal today than it was before. Expectant parents can have a sigh of relief, knowing that their baby can be placed in a good home with a loving family who’ll always keep them safe. Adoption agencies also have more requirements for hopeful adoptive parents, giving you peace of mind. 

You’re Voice Has a Significant Meaning as an Expectant Parent in Adoption

Adoption is an amazing and beautiful thing and has come a long way to what it has become today. Looking at just how much adoption has changed, you’re voice and say in adoption has a big impact. Not only are you choosing to choose a better life for your baby, but you’re also helping a family with their dream of adoption. You’ll have a flurry of emotions, but you can learn to think positively when placing your baby for adoption. You also are bettering your future by making such a courageous decision. You might not see it as a big deal, but seeing just how far expectant parents have come when it came to their say in the adoption placing process should have you feeling proud for changing a life for the better. 

Some Inspiring Poems and Quotes About Adoption 

To celebrate just how far adoption has come, I’d like to add some inspiring and beautiful poems and quotes that’ll hopefully have you feeling proud of being an expectant parent today in adoption. You matter as an expectant and will always make a great difference.

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” -Oprah Winfrey

“There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.” -The National Adoption Center

“When she looks in the mirror, we want our daughter to know herself. It’s hard to face the world when you don’t know where your face came from.” -Adoptive parents

“Adoption has the dimension of connection; not only to your tribe but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties, and family. It is a larger embrace. By adopting, we stretch past our immediate circles and, by reaching out, find an unexpected sense of belonging with others.” -Isabella Rossellini

“By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better.” -Richard Fischer

“I think adoption is a blessing all around when it’s done right.” -Hugh Jackman

“Once there were two women who never knew each other

One you do not remember, the other you call Mother

Two different lives shaped to make you one

One became your guiding star, the other became your sun

The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it

The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it

One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name

One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim

One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears

One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears

One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do

The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.

Now, which of these two women, Are you the product of?

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Both, my darling, Both, Just two different types of love.” -Julie Anderson

”A birthmother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart.” -Skye Hardwick

“If you love someone unconditionally and with your whole heart, then you will do what is best for them, not you. I have never learned a harder lesson than giving my child up for adoption, and I probably never will.” -Talitha

“I felt more love for my baby than I had ever experienced before. But I found that the more I loved him, the more I wanted to find out what would be best for him throughout his entire life. The things I wanted most for him (a stable family with a mother and father, a home to live in, a mother who could stay at home with him, financial security, etc.) were things I could not provide. So it was because I loved him so much that I chose adoption.” -Martina

“Having a child means a piece of your heart is walking around in the world.” -Unknown

“I know (my birth mother) must have had a lot of love for me to want to give (me) what she felt was a better chance.” -Faith Hill

“There are two different kinds of strength. There’s the strength to make a parenting plan and then there’s the strength to give that plan to another.” -Unknown

“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.” -Desha Woodall

“A mother’s love begins

Before the child is born

And lasts through time

And difficulties

And differences

And many wounds

And days of joy

And days of sorrow

Winding, wearing

Weeping, sharing


Until, at the end

What remains

Is that solid core

That began as love

Before the child was born.” – Unknown