Adoption involves the legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities from a child’s birth parents to his or her adoptive parents. Most children are placed for adoption through state public child welfare systems or through licensed private agencies. A small percentage are placed through independent adoption attorneys or adoption facilitators. This entry focuses on changes in adoption policy and practice over the past half century and their implications for adoptive parenting and psychological adjustment of adopted individuals.

Changes in Adoption Practice

Throughout most of the 20th century, adoption involved the placement of healthy, White babies with middle- to upper-middle-class, White, married, infertile couples. By the 1990s, however, the number of infants available for adoption had declined dramatically, primarily due to legalization on abortion, the ready availability of ...

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