The Traffic in Babies

The Traffic in Babies: Cross-Border Adoption and Baby-Selling between the United States and Canada, 1930-1972

KAREN A. BALCOM
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 448
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt13x1pvm
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  • Book Info
    The Traffic in Babies
    Book Description:

    . Exploring how and why babies were moved across borders,The Traffic in Babiesis a fascinating look at how social workers and other policy makers tried to find birth mothers, adopted children, and adoptive parents

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2114-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
    Karen Balcom
  4. Introduction: Babies across Borders
    (pp. 3-17)

    In the summer of 1945, Canadian Nora Lea (acting executive director of the Canadian Welfare Council) and American Maud Morlock (adoption consultant at the United States Children’s Bureau) were corresponding regularly about the intensifying problem of poorly regulated cross-border adoptions between Canada and the United States. Lea and Morlock were particularly worried about a large commercial maternity home in rural Nova Scotia doing a brisk business – and making a fine profit – placing the infant children of unwed Canadian mothers in unsupervised and uninvestigated adoptive homes in the United States. The Ideal Maternity Home promised American adoptive parents quick adoptions with...

  5. 1 Charlotte Whitton and Border Crossings in the 1930s
    (pp. 18-53)

    In the spring of 1934, a social worker from the Buffalo, New York, Children’s Aid Society complained to Charlotte Whitton (executive director of the Canadian Council on Child Welfare) about the safety and legal status of several adoptive placements of Canadian children with New York families. In one case, the Girls’ Home in Hamilton, Ontario, had placed a young girl for adoption with a Mr and Mrs Seymour of Akron, New York. This placement was illegal under New York law (which required that any agency placing a child in the state hold a state licence), and the Seymours were far...

  6. 2 Border-Crossing Responses to the Ideal Maternity Home, 1945–1947
    (pp. 54-93)

    In June 1946, the Canadian Conference on Social Work (CCSW) met in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Ernest Blois, Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of public welfare and the president of the conference for 1946, invited USCB consultant Maud Morlock to address the conference on ‘illegitimacy and adoption.’¹ Morlock shared the stage with her friend and ally Nora Lea, acting executive director of the CWC. Morlock stressed the need for close professional supervision of the adoption transaction, and she underlined the risks to children, birth mothers, and adoptive parents in haphazard placements contracted without the benefit of professional input. She paid particular attention...

  7. 3 The Alberta Babies-for-Export Scandal, 1947–1949
    (pp. 94-131)

    After she left the CWC in late 1941, Charlotte Whitton supported herself as a freelance writer and lecturer in social welfare. In 1946, the Alberta provincial chapter of the Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire (a women’s community service and patriotic organization) hired her to conduct a survey of social welfare services in Alberta. The survey was publicized as a gift to the province, and a planning tool for future IODE efforts. Whitton, however, was a long-time critic of the Alberta government, with a well-known history of using sensation and scandal to create public support for her social surveys and...

  8. 4 Cross-Border Placements for Catholic Children from Quebec, 1945–1960
    (pp. 132-165)

    The CWC’s Nora Lea was frequently struck by ‘the general impression in the US that there is a superfluity of [white, healthy] adoptable children in Canada.’¹ The situation in Canada, she insisted, was very similar to that in the United States. ‘We [Canadians] have fewer suitable children for adoption than there are approved homes and the wellestablished and properly-functioning adoption agencies … have long waiting lists.’² There was one very significant exception to this generalization. In Roman Catholic and French-speaking Quebec, thousands of infant children born to Catholic unwed mothers and available for adoption were cared for in large institutions...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 5 Criminal Law and Baby Black Markets, 1954–1964
    (pp. 166-194)

    In mid-February 1954, newspapers across Canada and into the United States announced that a massive baby-selling ring had just been uncovered through the joint efforts of Montreal police and prosecutors and the New York City district attorney’s office. Headlines screamed that a well-organized ‘traffic international des bébés’ had been operating out of Montreal for up to ten years. The papers alleged that as many as 1000 infants born to French Canadian and Catholic mothers were sold to desperate Jewish couples from Chicago, Cleveland, Florida, and, above all, the greater New York City area. The ‘selling price’ of children was initially...

  11. 6 Promoting and Controlling Cross-Border Adoption, 1950–1972
    (pp. 195-231)

    In 1966, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) established the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America (ARENA), an interstate and international network designed to ‘bring together the waiting children and the waiting families of this continent.’¹ ARENA built upon the Indian Adoption Project (IAP), an earlier CWLA experiment using a cross-border adoption exchange to find homes for Native American children. IAP and ARENA both rested on changing attitudes among social workers and the public about which children were suitable for adoption by which families. By the mid-1950s, the CWLA was arguing that adoption was possible for ‘any child who...

  12. Conclusion: ‘A “No Man’s Land” of Jurisdiction’
    (pp. 232-246)

    In January 1937 state representatives at a national meeting on interstate cooperation issued aDeclaration of Interdependence,which argued that it was time for state governments to join together to meet ‘their mutual problems brought on by this modern era.’ Instead of cooperating, state governments had been developing laws and policies with ‘no thought of harmony.’ The result was that ‘our governments … have developed a “No Man’s Land” of Jurisdiction. In thousands of instances, their laws are in conflict, their practices are discordant, their regulations are antagonistic, and their policies are either competitive or repugnant to one another.’ Against...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 247-316)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-342)
  15. Index
    (pp. 343-356)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 357-358)