American Baby

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


"American Baby" — one of the ten books you should read in the New Year.

[A] sweeping and novelistic account . . a well-paced work of research made stronger by Glaser’s ability to write with clarity and intensity about a harsh reality. Never losing sight of her story’s emotional heart, Glaser delivers a page-turning and illuminating work.
Publishers Weekly (*starred review*)

A searing narrative that combines the detailed saga of one unwed teenage mother with deep research on all aspects of a scandalous adoption industry…Throughout, the author deftly follows this genuinely human story, exposing the darker corners of adoption in 20th-century America. Glaser accomplishes an impressive feat here.
Kirkus Reviews, (*starred review*)

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.