The History of Adoption

The practice of adoption is as old as recorded civilization. The Bible addresses this topic. Fearing for Moses’s life, Jochebed places her baby in a watertight basket and floats it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Pharaoh’s grown daughter discovers the babe, takes pity on him, and decides to adopt him as her own.

“School is often the first time kids are left to describe complex emotions related to adoption to new classmates, without having a parent nearby for support.”

Adoption of boys was a common practice among Romans in the upper senatorial class for ensuring a smooth succession of leadership. In the absence of a biological son to inherit his wealth and title, it was common for the emperor to adopt a son to carry on the political tradition of his family and designate him as his legitimate chosen successor. Augustus Caesar was the most famous Roman adoptee.

Muhammad instructed adoptive parents to refer to their adoptive children by the names of their biological parents. They were not considered blood relatives, and it was okay for them to marry. Inheritance remained separate from the biological family. If an adoptee inherited wealth from a birth parent’s estate, the adopted family was commanded to act as trustee and not to combine that property or wealth with their own.

Conscripting or enslaving children into armies and labor pools occurred as a consequence of war and pestilence when children were left parentless. Abandoned children then became the ward of the state, military organization, or religious group. When this practice happened en masse, it had the advantage of ensuring the strength and continuity of cultural and religious practices in medieval society.

Foundlings were commonly abandoned on the doorstep of churches, resulting in many of Europe’s abandoned children becoming alumni of the Church. This trend marked the beginning of a shift toward institutionalization, eventually bringing about the establishment of foundling hospitals and orphanages. From these locations, children were doled out as laborers and household servants. Baby farming in the Victorian era was the taking in of a child for payment, but baby farmers were often unscrupulous and many orphans suffered neglect, abuse and death.

The destiny of most European orphans was a lifetime of squalor, poverty, and crime until literature changed public consciousness about the fate of parentless children. Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist exposed the cruel treatment of the many orphans in London. Heidi is a novel about the events in the life of an orphaned girl in the Swiss Alps that is popular all over the world. Little Orphan Annie became a highly popular daily comic strip. She escapes from an orphanage and makes her way in the world by hard work and a cheery disposition. Anne of Green Gables, the story of an 11-year-old orphan girl, has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages.

Orphan trains were highly popular as a source of free labor. The largest migration of children in history took place in the United States when over two hundred thousand children were forced onto railroad cars and shipped west, where any family desiring their services as laborers, maids, and servants used and abused them. The sheer size of the displacement and degree of exploitation that occurred gave rise to new agencies and a series of laws that promoted adoption rather than indenture.

Almost all children without parental care in the United States were in orphanages or foster arrangements until President Theodore Roosevelt declared the nuclear family was best able to serve as primary caretaker for the abandoned and orphaned. Inspired by his leadership, forces against institutionalization gathered momentum, and the practice of formal adoption gained popularity.

Eventually, adoption became a quintessential American institution, embodying faith in social engineering and mobility. By 1945, adoption was formulated as a legal act with consideration of the child’s best interests. The origin of the move toward secrecy and the sealing of all adoption and birth records began when Charles Loring Brace introduced the concept to prevent children from the orphan trains from being reclaimed by their parents. Brace feared the impact of the parents’ poverty and their Catholic religion, in particular, on the youth. Progressive reformers later carried on this tradition of secrecy when drafting American adoption laws.

The legalization of artificial birth control methods and abortion resulted in a sudden drop in the number of babies available for adoption. As concerns over illegitimacy began to subside in the early 1970s, social welfare agencies began to emphasize that; if possible, mothers and children should be kept together. Societal opinions and adoption laws continue to evolve and vary by state and country. In safe haven states, infants may be left anonymously at hospitals, fire departments, or police stations within a few days of birth. While some states allow for open adoptions, others impose strict secrecy laws to protect identities.

Advanced biological, genetic, social, and psychological research in recent years has greatly enhanced public knowledge about the symbiotic relationship between birth mothers and infants. The perception of similarities between adoptive parent and child appears important to successful parenting. In relationships marked by like personalities and appearances, both adult adoptees and adoptive parents report being happier with the adoption. For this reason, Native Americans and many other cultural and ethnic groups stress the importance of keeping adoption within the child’s ancestral population.

Open records have increased the number of adoption reunions in recent decades that can be a beneficial experience for adoptees that desire to learn about their biological and ancestral backgrounds and medical history, but this is not to imply that the goal of all reunions is to establish ongoing relationships.

Judith Land



La historia de la adopción | L’histoire de l’adoption | La storia di adozione | История принятия | Istoria Adoptare | Historien om adoption | Historien om adopsjon | Hanes Mabwysiadu | 입양의 역사 | 采纳史

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Adoption – The Sublime Confidence of Youth

“To flourish is to be at one’s prime and achieve the height of excellence and influence in your life. To flourish you must cultivate a favorable environment, live a healthy and vigorous lifestyle, and aim for sustained periods of luxuriant growth.” —Judith Land


“Even if the flower grows from an ancient root, the flowers of spring are themselves a new and precious gift to the world. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. Life stands still for those who spend too much time planning for tomorrow’s events. Dreams of the future make us happier than the history of the past. Have gratitude for past successes and wholeheartedly look forward with enthusiasm to what’s coming next.” —Judith Land

When is the right time to break the endless cycle of repetition and recapture the sublime confidence of youth to create an inspired vision of the perfect life? If you want something bad enough that you never had, you must do something that you’ve never done. Aim for the moon because if you want something bad enough the entire universe will conspire to help you achieve it.

Many adoptees face a lifelong adjustment process between two shifting realities, a life “that is” and an imaginary world that, “could have been”. They have difficulty weighing the differences between the prosaic and unimaginative paint-by-numbers traditional role assigned to them by their adoptive families verses something unknown that is deeply profound, and mysteriously hidden within them. Without encouragement, guidance, mentoring, or an elusive spark to ignite the imagination in a way that excites them, an entire lifetime may pass without ever experiencing the true beauty, treasure, vision, and potency that subconsciously lies dormant below the surface. The mind drifts mercilessly between the two dueling worlds that are poles apart—rival domains in a clash between an inner dream world inspired by nostalgic yearnings for knowledge of ancestral roots, a true sense of self, and significant others who are missing, verses an external public persona of someone living a prosaic day-to-day existence that is conventional, lacking panache, and unpoetic. They are forced into playing a role on the stage of life that isn’t really them—a matinee idol assigned the staring role as “the chosen one,” a lackluster existence for many adoptees that is overtly commonplace and a persistently banal day-to-day existence.

Why not chose to make this the year to strive to be at your prime and achieve the height of excellence and influence in your life? Why not learn to flourish by rekindling the sublime confidence of youth, making positive choices for your well-being, and initiating bold new extravagant actions to the imaginary fanfare of trumpets. Learn to become less dependent on external affirmations and increase your well-being in a profound way. Notice the enrichment, stimulation, and positive challenges others bring to your life. Improve your health to increase your energy and drive and extend your longevity. Incorporate a daily practice of mindfulness and kindness into your world. Cultivate resilience and learn how to intellectually respond, rather than emotionally react. Flourishing is about celebrating triumphs and achieving success by allowing yourself to grow vigorously. It is about developing a dramatic presence, communicating with fanciful embellishments based on a positive confident attitude, and signing your name with sweeping ornamental lines. To choose to flourish is an intentional act about living vivaciously. It is about cultivating an expansive bubbly presence, being enthusiastically effusive, developing a radiant and beguiling personality, and being creatively prolific, buoyant, and irrepressible.

Why not make this your year to flourish and achieve the height of excellence?

Judith Land



Perché non rendere questo vostro anno a fiorire e raggiungere l’altezza di eccellenza?

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“Adoption—Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

The tie that binds is a poetic reference to relationships. It is our shared beliefs and experiences that link us with others that always have a hold on us. Common interests, adventures, knowledge, recurrent events and acquaintance can create friendship and love but the “tie that binds” is a much more lyrical way of saying it. “Ties” are a reference to the things that we have in common with another person and interests that we share. “Binds” are the feelings of unity that a shared interest or experience creates, meaning relationships and situations that unite people together to form lasting relationships.


“Adoptees who feel alone in the world must learn to adjust to the significant events in their lives, evolving unpredictable circumstances, and altered relationships in response to those around them. When they feel the pain of the refugee, dispirited and sorrowful, despairing and downhearted, they should be reminded of the immortal words of Dean Martin, ‘Everybody loves somebody sometime. Everybody falls in love somehow.'” —Judith Land

John Fawcett, orphaned at age 12, gave us one of the most beloved farewell hymns of all time. More Christians upon parting have tearfully sung this hymn more than any other. He understood beauty and the sacrifice required to attain it; his words are the sort of legacy that we should remember. He reminds us that it is the fellowship of the holy spirit that leads us to encouragement, consolation, affection and compassion, which bring joy and beauty when we are of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose.

“Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. Before the Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares. When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again. This glorious hope revives our courage by the way; while each in expectation lives and longs to see the day. From sorrow, toil, and pain, and sin, we shall be free; and perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.” John Fawcett

Regardless of how isolated and alone an adoptee may feel, Fawcett reminds us that to some extent we are all inextricably connected. We are all unique, yet individually we share common elements of our collective human heritage, preserved in history, mind, and traditions that are carried forth into future generations. No one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others. The tracking of our ancestry through our blood, our genes and our written and oral histories, leads us to find our place in the world and in our families—reminding ourselves that we are all related. We all share one irrefutable tie with the web of life that tenuously binds us to this planet. We are all connected through six degrees of separation. Some members of a family look and act nothing like each other or the parents, yet the members of a family share a bond stronger than their differences. In all human societies a family is based on blood and ancestry and formal relationships, including the sacraments of holy matrimony and legal adoption, but families may also be defined as informal groupings of people united as a result of exceptional circumstances, notable events, and shared experiences. Separation from those we care about gives us inward pain but we shall always remain joined in heart. Glorious hope gives us the courage that we will meet again someday.

John Fawcett teaches regardless of how a family is formed, the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love is ultimately the strongest bond that joins us together, our hearts, and our minds and our souls to discover perfect love and friendships that last through all eternity.

Judith Land




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“Adoption—Infants remember more than you think”

“Parents who worry about early traumatic experiences in their adopted child’s life may be comforted knowing that children younger than nine months are poor at retaining ‘explicit’ conscious memories. However, even though a child can’t recall a particular event, a favorite toy, or a trip to the zoo later in life, those experiences may still be crucial to the child’s development. A child might not remember their diapered days, but ‘implicit’ memories formed in the early formative years may actually be the ones with the greatest impact on their lives.” —Judith Land

adoption detective | Judith Land | memory

During the early years children learn “implicitly” based on tacit emotions evoked by specific situations. As we begin to mature, we gradually learn to develop “explicit” memories through the interpretation of facts, uncensored details and abstract concepts. Realization of the truth about the sum of who we really are goes far beyond the intellectually explicit conscious memories of life’s experience. —Judith Land

A child’s memories are based on emotional responses and feelings that are strong right from birth. Emotions create powerful memories that the brain actually remembers long after the occurrences themselves. Infants spend the first few years of life developing an emotional understanding of the world—feelings and interpretations that remain with us throughout our entire lives. That’s why early childhood has such a powerful effect on us, even though we consciously remember very little of it.

Infants as young as six months old implicitly remember emotionally stressful situations and are able to anticipate that negativity when exposed to the same situation again. Stress hormones increase when parents ignore their child until the child is reassured the situation won’t repeat itself. The links between emotion, stress, and memory have led scientists to believe that traumatic childhood events may trigger memories that are remembered more vividly and retained longer than routine experiences. Adult social behaviors, resistance to stress, and language skills are influenced by what happens during the early stages of life. These findings explain why adoptees who experienced isolation and neglect as infants, even when they can’t remember specific situations, still need the help of a therapist or counselor to address social and emotional stress and anxiety as adults.

Scientists who study memory support the idea that the brains of infants are set up to learn quickly and make rapid associations. Babies are much more sophisticated than many people realize. Memory begins early on, even before a child is even born. Babies who are played the same nursery tune regularly during pregnancy can recognize and remember the song at birth. They form memories that last for incredibly long periods of time. Newborns recognize their mothers’ voice at birth and are quickly reassured by her smell. They quickly learn the mother’s face and recognize the father, if he has been present during pregnancy. In the first two months babies recognize familiar faces and voices they will remember through seven months of age. This kind of recognition is the first indication of memory that increases dramatically during the first year. At 3 months, babies can remember new pictures and toys shown to them six days previously, offering proof that babies this age have recall memory. At 6 months they continue to remember how some toys work through their second birthdays. At about eight months babies learn to recall people who are familiar and develop anxieties toward strangers. At 9 months old, babies are able to remember where toys are stored and imitate actions they have witnessed. Missing the mother is a vital sign that the child has a clear memory of her just being there, and creating alarm when she isn’t visible. Toddlers continue to prefer smells they were exposed to in the first weeks of life. Long-lasting conscious memory of specific events develops in stages and begins when a baby is about 18 months old. First, they encode primitive sights and sounds. Then comes the accumulation of general knowledge and language. The final kinds of memories are autobiographical recollections of personal experiences.

Ten things about memory that parents of adopted children should know: 1) Memories provide the building blocks for learning. 2) Children of highly elaborative mothers tend to have earlier and richer memories. 3) Parents expressing positive emotions heighten a baby’s attention and arousal much more than someone with a placid facial expression and neutral voice. 4) Children remember far more and at earlier ages than previously thought. 5) Many memories last a lifetime. 6) Memories don’t always remain constant. 7) Emotional responses to stress tend to be remembered longer. 8) Spiritual memories linger long after our conscious powers of recall. 9) Implicit memories formed in the early formative years based on our emotional responses to stress may actually be the ones with the greatest impact on our lives. 10) Realization of the truth about the sum of who we really are as adoptees goes far beyond the intellectually explicit conscious memories of life’s experience.

Judith Land





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Similarities between Golf and Adoption

Some days are appropriately used for diversion and pleasurable experiences to help us forget about the daily routines of work and parenting, the grind of commuting, children, and events that give us stress, and do something out of the ordinary that makes us happy, like going for a walk, having a nice lunch, breathing fresh air, planting flowers, visiting an old friend, and getting some exercise. Knowing that it is good for the soul to be lighthearted, chipper and silly once in a while, I decided to play golf.


“Oh! By the way, I almost forgot to mention that I had a hole-in-one on the golf course recently. It was a perfectly sunny day, a controlled swing, a straight shot, and the thrill of a lifetime—almost as exciting as finding my birth family.” Judith Land

There was no reason for me to think about adoption issues yesterday—until it suddenly dawned on me how many similarities there are between raising children and the game of golf. Faith is important because they both involve an endless series of tragedies obscured by an occasional miracle and there’s seldom any evidence of the things that you prayed for—and there is always the lingering expectation that you’ll do better next time. A battle of wits, providence, penitence, and pleadings for redemption, mulligans and gimmies are about equal in both cases. Golf is all about execution, potential and accomplishment—the same feelings of wonder and joy that a parent experiences when a child accomplishes something extraordinary.

We dream and fantasize about all the wonderful things children will do when they grow up until we come to the realization that there may be an errant deviation in their life’s trajectory—like when your golf ball deviates off course and ends up in the rough or at the bottom of a pond. Parents live vicariously through their children, the same way fanatical amateur golfers emulate professionals making millions of dollars on television. Some kids watch too much television according to the parents and kids are quick to complain about the golf channel being left on all day. Learning good manners and teaching morals and ethics are important aspects of the game of golf and child rearing, but we seldom pay any attention to our playing partners and children unless someone is incredibly suffering, throwing things, or screaming obscenities.

Golf is fickle and expensive like children—but you can’t resist the illusory joy even though you know you may loose money and end up with a broken heart. In both cases, our patience is always being tested by a lack of consistency and an inability to focus on realistic expectations. Mornings mean choosing something colorful to wear that meets the dress code. You typically get off to a good start with high hopes and but then something inevitably happens and you or your child suffers a brain cramp. Every child wants to achieve a high score on their tests and every golfer strives to lower their handicap. Performance is continuously scored, recorded, handicapped, and posted for everyone to see—when scores are below expectations, we blame the instructor and optimistically agree to pay for private lessons and buy more technical aids. When things go well and outcomes exceed our expectations, we brag excessively and in great detail.

Golfers tell humorous antidotes about golfing partners and parents brag about their children’s mini achievements. They both prattle on about many of the same nonsensical things when achievement is high and use expletives to describe unprintable frustrations when they aren’t. Nonverbal communication, including furrowed brows, rolled eyes, clenched teeth, and red faces are often the most telling signs for understanding the hidden feelings and frustrations of parents and golfers that are normally difficult to communicate in an objectively explicit manner. Pantomime, gestures, emotional whining, slang vocabulary and exaggerations are routinely used to enhance communication and convey ideas.

Children and golfers test our patience at times. Children wear “Pampers” and when they poop in their pants someone is always there to help, praise, and hug them but when an adult golfer wears a diaper it “Depends” who is named in the will as to who will help them. Always remember to have faith and pray for a better outcome next time. Settle on reasonable expectations. Remind yourself that it’s okay to vary your daily routine and be silly once in a while, as long as you wear something colorful and keep the children’s best interests in mind.

Judith Land

Martin Land

Martin Land





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Adoption—On a Wing and a Prayer

“Are there similarities between glider pilots and adoptees who unexpectedly find themselves in foreign lands surrounded by strangers? Glider pilots landing in unfamiliar surroundings suffer from disorientation and arrive with no possible way of getting home. Perplexed adoptees arrive as anonymous newcomers in foreign environments where they are automatically expected to cope with entirely new circumstances. They both wake up in the morning facing a diverse group of people with dissimilar backgrounds, unconventional habits, and speaking different languages.” —Judith Land


“Glider pilots and adoptees have no alternative other than to face adversity, danger, and great risks with no second chances or alternative choices—their fate is determined by the wind.” Judith Land

“On a Wing and a Prayer” is a modern idiom meaning to initiate action with only the slightest chance of success with the hope and expectation that you will succeed, even though you are relatively unprepared for the consequences of what could happen.
If you initiate an irrevocable action based solely on a wing and a prayer, you have the aspiration of succeeding in the face of great difficulty under dangerous and risky circumstances—hoping that God or luck will be on your side.

Gliders have few provisions for safety and none for comfort. There is no shortage of headaches and more than a few tragedies. Landing is a planned accident. When a glider pilot is assigned a mission his or her chances for success are often very low; many things may go wrong and they often do, including fatality. When a mother agrees to relinquish responsibility for her biological child and place it in the care of an outsider she is also taking a potentially unassailable risk and neither she nor the child can ever be guaranteed the outcome will be positive.

The phrase “On a Wing and Prayer” hit a chord with the public when gliders spearheaded nearly every major allied assault during WWII. Landing was a planned accident. If you survived the landing in foreign territory you first had to orient yourself, then find, assemble and set up your equipment. One-third of all allied glider troops were killed or wounded. The United States built more than 14,000 gliders and trained 6,000 pilots to fly the “flying coffins” as they were called. Never before in history has any nation produced so many aviators whose duty it was to deliberately crash land, and then go on to fight as combat infantrymen in unfamiliar fields deep within enemy-held territory, often in total darkness. They had no motors, no parachutes, and no second chances, or alternative choices. With only a one-way ticket and a slight chance of success many arrived in very bad condition.

Perhaps, the next time you hear the phrase “On a Wing and a Prayer” you will also think about present-day adoptees and their mothers hoping that luck and God are on their side, as well as, the aviator heroes of WWII.

Judith Land




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Pets benefit adopted children…

“Pets are mood-enhancing and benefit adoptees in many ways by improving mental health, cheerfulness, feelings of psychological well-being, and self-esteem. The presence of animals fosters positive social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Pets relieve stress by lowering blood pressure, feelings of isolation and loneliness, and increase opportunities for exercise and socialization. Pet ownership is associated with better physical and psychological health, and fewer doctor visits. Pet owners feel closer to nature and all living creatures.” —Judith Land

Everyone knows that kids love animals because they offer companionship. Animals are the focus of storybooks, music and movies. Children confide in their favorite pets, whether real or imaginary, because they are nonjudgmental. Bedroom decor and clothing honors them. Closets, shelves, and toy chests are typically littered with toy collections—fuzzy stuffed animals and critters of all shapes and sizes. Children love animals because they teach and delight and offer a warm special kind of friendship.

pets | Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Pets enjoy love and attention. Always nonjudgemental, they offer fun, random excitement, and excellent companionship. They help reduce stress, improve self-esteem and make kids lacking social support more approachable. These are my puppies “Cha Cha Bandita” and “Lily Amora.”

The emotional benefits of pets are well known. It is impossible to stay in a bad mood when petting a soft kitten or playing with a small puppy. Children learn that pets enjoy love and attention; they are excellent huggers. Animals rely on their owners for food, water, shelter, and exercise and the accepting of responsibility triggers empathy. Pet therapy opens tremendous options for adopted children who have experienced psychological trauma. Educators have long known that therapy animals help challenged kids relax and become better readers. Pets offer love and companionship. They are good listeners. They keep secrets and enjoy comfortable silences.

Pets make children more approachable and give others a good reason to approach and communicate with them and make new friends. All of these benefits can reduce the amount of stress children experience in response to feelings of social isolation and a lack of confidence and moral support.

When I was a child my dog Toby had a very positive effect on my personality because he gave me something to be temporarily passionate about. He was unpredictable and fun. I enjoyed crawling after him on my hands and knees through the doggy door. He stepped on my dolls, tracked dirt into my room, jumped on my bed, licked my face, and cleaned up any food I dropped on the floor. He provided random excitement that reduced my social inhibitions and triggered feelings of being spontaneously joyful. His unpredictability caused me to smile and his easy accessibility gave me a friendly warm body to hug.

Judith Land





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