American Baby

A Mother, A Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption


Powerful...Tells a singular story to illuminate a universal truth...In [Margaret and David’s] intimate tale are the seeds of today’s adoption practices and parenting norms, as our past continually redefines our present...That Margaret and David find each other is not a spoiler….The hows of the search, and what happens next, read like a novel, one likely to bring tears.
New York Times Book Review

A fascinating indictment of adoption’s early history that’s as gripping as a novel.
People Magazine Book of the Week

In American Baby, journalist Gabrielle Glaser sets Margaret and David’s poignant, painful, and powerful story in the context of adoption practices at the height of the Baby Boom, which left so many feeling lost and unloved. As she reviews what has – and has not – changed, Glaser also raises important questions about the ethical, legal, and civil rights and obligations of adopted children, adoptive parents, and birth mothers
Psychology Today

Gabrielle Glaser tells the heartbreaking story of Margaret Erle, an unwed teen coerced into surrendering her infant son to an adoption agency in 1961. The empathetic account alternates between Margaret and her son David, up through their poignant reunion, while also illuminating the disturbing history of adoption in postwar America
Christian Science Monitor

The shocking truth about postwar adoption in America, told through the bittersweet story of one teenager, the son she was forced to relinquish, and their search to find each other.

During the Baby Boom in 1960s America, women were encouraged to stay home and raise large families, but sex and childbirth were taboo subjects. Premarital sex was common, but birth control was hard to get and abortion was illegal. In 1961, sixteen-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Her enraged family sent her to a maternity home, and after she gave birth, she wasn't even allowed her to hold her own son. Social workers threatened her with jail until she signed away her parental rights. Her son vanished, his whereabouts and new identity known only to an adoption agency that would never share the slightest detail about his fate.