Child Welfare League of America, “Minimum Safeguards in Adoption,” 1938

Source: Vera Connolly, "Bargain-Counter Babies," Pictorial Review  (March 1937), 17.

This illustration of a pitiful “bargain-counter baby” accompanied a March 1937 article in Pictorial Review calling for more strenuous adoption standards. Reformers agreed that increased state regulation was the only way to combat commercial and black market adoptions.

Approved by Vote of the Board of Directors of the Child Welfare League of America, November 5, 1938

I. The safeguards that the child should be given are:

1. That he be not unnecessarily deprived of his kinship ties.

2. That the family asking for him have a good home and good family life to offer and that the prospective parents be well adjusted to each other.

3. That he is wanted for the purpose of completing an otherwise incomplete family group, in which he will be given support, education, loving care, and the feeling of security to which any child is entitled.

II. The safeguards that the adopting family should expect are:

1. That the identity of the adopting parents should be kept from the natural parents.

2. That the child have the intelligence and the physical and mental background to meet the reasonable expectations of the adopting parents.

3. That the adoption proceedings be completed without unnecessary publicity.

III. The safeguards that the state should require for its own and the child’s protection are:

1. That the adopting parents should realize that in taking the child for adoption they assume as serious and permanent an obligation as do parents rearing their own children, including the right to inherit.

2. That there be a trial period of residence of reasonable length for the best interests of the family and the child whether there be a legal requirement for it or not.

3. That the adoption procedure be sufficiently flexible to avoid encouragement of illegitimacy on the one hand and trafficking in babies on the other.

4. That the birth records of an adopted child be so revised as to shield him from unnecessary embarrassment in case of illegitimacy.

These safeguards are best provided to the natural parents and also to those asking adoption if they turn to a well established children’s organization which has a reputation in this field for good advice and good results.


Source: Child Welfare League of America, “Minimum Safeguards in Adoption,” 1938, Child Welfare League of America Papers, Box 15, Folder 5, Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

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