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The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia…

The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who… (2007)

by Barbara Bisantz Raymond

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The Untold story of Georgia Tann, the babyseller who corrupted Adoption.A true story. ( )
  marient | Oct 2, 2009 |
This was an excellent, well-written and -researched social history, thoughtfully interlaced with the author’s own adoption experience. I had no idea Georgia Tann was so important a figure, and so evil (almost deliciously so). This is a must-read for anyone interested in adoption, from any perspective. ( )
  meggyweg | Mar 6, 2009 |
Details the life and crimes of Georgia Tann, a Memphis-based child stealer, abuser, and seller whose influence on adoption practices in the U.S. and worldwide is still felt today. Includes a look at the history of adoption, foster care, and unwanted pregnancies in U.S. history. Graphic discussions of emotional, physical, and sexual child abuse and discussions of Tann’s homosexuality, and pregnancy out of wedlock.
  chosler | Jan 24, 2009 |
A fascinating book about a woman named Georgia Tann and her impact on the adoption industry. Georgia was born in Mississippi and grew up wanting to be a lawyer, but her father, a judge, wouldn’t have it. So, she turned to one of the careers available to women at the time—social work. After starting to work in Mississippi and then mysteriously leaving, she ended up in Memphis in 1924 in an environment ripe for exploitation. There she coerced impoverished mothers to relinquish or stole some of their children. Her practices were repulsive, yet she was allowed to continue her work until her death in 1950 by a system that looked the other way. Those that did try to fight her were stymied by her power and supporters.

As an individual who, during my youth, spent considerable time in Memphis, I found this book informative and intriguing. Barbara Bisantz Raymond uses the history of Memphis to show how Georgia Tann was able to establish and continue her appalling methods of adoption. I was not aware of the Yellow Fever epidemics of 1878 and 1897 and their impact on the city—a loss of many of its prominent citizens, the arrival of more rural poor, and a trust of people caring for orphaned children. As Ms. Raymond lays out the story of Georgia and her crimes, she also tells the stories of some of her victims, the adopted children and their birth parents. Theirs are tragic, yet in some cases, hopeful stories of survival.

I have but one complaint with the book. I found myself wanting conclusions tied more to facts. For instance, she claims that Georgia made adoption of orphaned children acceptable, but I wasn’t sure if that was Georgia’s doing or changes in the times when others involved in adoption might be doing the same. However, it’s a minor complaint, so I still recommend this book for anyone interested in adoption and its history in the United States. ( )
1 vote xuesheng | Oct 10, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786719443, Hardcover)

For almost three decades, renowned baby-seller Georgia Tann ran a children's home in Memphis, Tennessee — selling her charges to wealthy clients nationwide, Joan Crawford among them. Part social history, part detective story, part expose, The Baby Thief is a riveting investigative narrative that explores themes that continue to reverberate today.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:45 -0400)

Traces the story of a notorious black-market baby dealer whose illicit operation between 1920 and 1950 was largely dependent on her success in coercing the abandonment and kidnapping of abused and disadvantaged babies.

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