Adopting change: Birth mothers in maternity homes today

Gender and Society 14 (1):160-183 (2000)
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Abstract

This article explores the reasons some pregnant women enter maternity homes with the plan to place their babies for adoption. The authors discuss changes in maternity homes over the twentieth century and report on findings from a survey of currently licensed homes in Texas. Next, the authors discuss the findings from fieldwork and in-depth interviews with residents of two maternity homes. They identify three major reasons why birth mothers enter maternity homes: the desire to escape abusive or stressful family lives, the desire to avoid the stigma of placing a child for adoption, and the desire to provide their children, and in some cases themselves, with a stable and loving family life. The authors contend that entering a maternity home with the intention of placing their babies for adoption represents an effort on the part of birth mothers to reconfigure their own, often impoverished family lives.

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