American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption

Viking. Jan. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9780735224681. $28. SOC SCI
One of the dark sides of the baby boom was an increase in teen pregnancy, the response to which from many families was to hide girls away in grim facilities. Agencies coerced girls to give their babies for adoption under penalty of juvenile detention and social censure. On the other side, they lied to prospective adoptive parents about the history of the babies, coupled with allowing unethical research practices and racist ideologies. Glaser (Her Best-Kept Secret) tells this story through the lens of one specific mother, Margaret Erle Katz, and her son that she was forced to give up, David Rosenberg, whom Glaser met at the end of his life and inspired the writing of this book. Her interviews allowed her to re-create the story, dating back to how Margaret and her husband George’s families had lost much of their families in the Holocaust, a past shared by David’s adoptive parents. Combining personal tragedy and overall history, this book evokes sympathy for a wide swath of mid-century American women.
VERDICT In addition to content related to adoption, which should be of wide interest, this book will engage readers interested in Jewish social practices in mid-century America.
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