The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond is the true story behind the novel Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I read Before We Were Yours last year and it was one of my favorite books for the year. When I realized it was based on real people and events, I just had to read more. (#enneagram5here) This book tells the true story of Georgia Tann, the woman who single handedly shaped adoption into what it is today. Georgia was a master puppeteer, able to persuade politicians, lawyers, celebrities, and the Memphis elite at the time to follow her every whim. She turned adoption into a for-profit gig, made it trendy, and became a millionaire. Most horrifying was that she stole children, tricked parents into signing them over to her, and walked out of hospitals with infants whose mothers were told they were stillborn. She is both directly and indirectly the reason many babies didn’t survive infancy and why many, MANY children suffered much abuse in both temporary placements and adoptive homes.
The author has herself been through the adoption process and she helped her daughter reunite with her birth family as a teenager. She speaks from experience and her time and research is evident all throughout this book. (I’m talking 50+ pages of notes and references at the end of the book type of thorough research)
Georgia Tann’s life from childhood and beyond is explored and the demographics of Memphis are closely looked at as a factor in how she was so successful in taking and selling children. So, if nothing else, read chapter 7 and learn all kinds of fascinating facts about Memphis in the late 1800s-early 1900s.
If you read Before We Were Yours definitely check this book out also, but be aware that very few children got the happy ending depicted in that story. It made me so sad, but it also made me so appreciate the families that I know who foster and adopt and I’m so, SO thankful that these children have loving and caring homes to grow up in. Foster and adoptive parents are truly angels on earth taking care of “the least of these.”