"IT'S A HARD-KNOCK LIFE": THE DARK SIDE OF ADOPTION AND CHILD WELFARE IN AMERICAN HISTORY
This thesis seeks to address the question: why were the victims of three high-profile adoption scandals, The Orphan Trains, Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society, and St. Joseph's Catholic Orphanage, silenced, and how did this silencing prevent the public from becoming aware of both the flaws within the United States adoption system and the need for reform? In analyzing these three scandals as distinct but interconnected case studies through their coverage in various newspapers, contemporary to each scandal, Jones compared the images surrounding the adopting system promoted by the media and examined how these portrayals shaped perspectives about the victims of the flawed adoption system. This thesis reveals how the benevolent images of the child welfare system undermined the complaints of those who fell victim to its pitfalls and allowed for their continued abuse and neglect, and more specifically abuse and neglect on behalf of an institution built on the promise that it would protect and provide for destitute children. Each scandal differs from the others, yet the outcome always proved to be the same: the children were never prioritized, their voices never heard, and their abusers never held accountable. This thesis seeks to finally acknowledge those responsible for the crimes that occurred in these adoption scandals, and to discuss how the child welfare system in America failed its most vulnerable citizens.
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