The Baby Scoop Era was a time of higher-than-average birth rates that began after the end of World War II and lasted until the early 1970s. It also refers to a large increase in adoption rates that also occurred throughout this time. During this time, pre-marital pregnancies were on the rise. Social stigma around this, as well as limited access to birth control methods, were directly responsible for the higher adoption rates.
In the United States
In the United States, the Baby Scoop Era lasted from around 1945 to 1973. Approximately four million mothers placed children for adoption during this period, inclusive of 2 million mothers who did it in the 1960s. Non-relative adoptions also became greater from about 33,800 in 1951 to 89,200 in 1970.
During the 1940s and 1950s, there was a large degree of social stigma surrounding pre-martial children as well as single mothers. The common sentiment at this time was that unmarried mothers were incapable of raising their children and were therefore better off placing them for adoption. During this time, there was not a strong support fabric in place to help single mothers or mothers who were struggling with raising a child, leaving many mothers without any choice.
In the 1970s, child adoptions started decreasing because of the reduced birth rate. Besides a decline in birth rate, legal and social modifications that allowed mothers to have single parenthood also played a part in reducing adoption rates. On the other hand, fertility rates also reduced because of the presentation of the birth control pill in 1960, which helped give women stronger control over their bodies.
The Baby Scoop Era in Canada lasted a bit longer - from 1945 to around 1988. It was the period when about 400,000 single expectant mothers, mostly aged between 15 and 19, were targeted for their unborn babies. These single mothers were restrained in childbearing group homes, including those run by the Catholic Church, Salvation Army, United Church, and Anglican Church. The government of Canada supported these group homes.
After the children were born, they were taken from their biological mothers and placed for adoption purposes. This action was intended as a means of penalty for the young mothers. Placing the single pregnant mothers in maternity group homes was a part of their rehabilitation. The train of thought was that it helped them learn a lesson by abandoning their offspring.
Baby Scoop Era is not so different from what is called the “Sixties Scoop.” Sixties Scoop represents the Canadian practices that started in 1960s to the late 1980s. The practices involved capturing abnormally large numbers of native children above five years from their relatives and placing them for adoption or fostering. Approximately 20,000 native children were taken from their relatives and adopted to middle-class people. The government laws that controlled the 60s Scoop were superseded in 1980s after the Chiefs of Ontario passed resolves against them. The policies were also bitterly convicted by a Manitoba judicial.
Forced adoption also existed in Australia throughout this time. It involved involuntary adoptions and took place around the 1950s to 1970s. In the 1970s, there was a decrease in adoptions in Australia because of the 1973 law, which provided financial support to single parents.