The US Adoption History Timeline

1851 Massachusetts passed the first modern adoption law, recognizing adoption as a social and legal operation based on child welfare rather than adult interests. Historians consider the 1851 Adoption of Children Act an important turning point because it directed judges to ensure that adoption decrees were “fit and proper.” How this determination was to be made was left entirely to judicial discretion.
1854 New York Children’s Aid Society, under the direction of reformer Charles Loring Brace launched the orphan trains.