By J. Keating
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Additional resources for A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918-45
This case, and other contemporary baby farming cases, received a great deal of publicity and the movement for legislation to prevent the 24 A Child for Keeps practice, led by concerned doctors, gained momentum. The campaigning activities of the Infant Life Protection Society which they established led to the setting up of the Select Committee on the Protection of Infant Life whose report on baby farming in 1872 resulted in the passing of the first Infant Life Protection Act. Under its provisions, all those receiving two or more infants under the age of one ‘for hire or reward’ had to register with the local authority.
66 Parents had the right of appeal to a magistrates’ court but presumably not many did so, or their pleas were dismissed, because in 1908 alone 12,417 children were adopted by Boards of Guardians. 68 Most of these children were boarded out with foster parents on a long-term basis but in theory they remained under the care of the Guardians who, at least in the more organised areas, continued to inspect them on a regular basis. In a minority of cases permanent situations with the foster families resulted, but this was not an intended consequence.
48 Attempts to improve mothering skills led to an expansion of the health visiting system which had started in some parts of the country during the latter part of the nineteenth century, whereby mothers would be visited by women who were either working for charitable societies in a voluntary or paid capacity or employed as sanitary inspectors by the local authorities. These ladies gave the mothers instruction Setting the Scene 21 about how to improve the care and nutrition of their children and the management of their homes.
A Child for Keeps: The History of Adoption in England, 1918-45 by J. Keating