Georgia Tann, who is credited as the inventor of adoption and who was the founder of the now-defunct Tennessee Childrens Home Society, is the subject of a new book, The Baby Thief, written by Barbara Bisantz Raymond.
Tann was a native of Mississippi, but it was in Memphis that she founded her childrens home and ran a famously corrupt adoption racket responsible for the kidnapping and death of many children. Her methods of collecting kids included stealing them from single mothers, recent divorcees, and families in temporary financial difficulty, claiming that the child had died or that it had never been there in the first place. Prophetically, a lot of the kids did end up dying, due to the squalid conditions in the childrens home.
Tann would routinely adopt out her charges after minimal background checks. Joan no wire hangers Crawford was among her more famous clientele.
Her childrens home was shut down in the 1950s, after Tanns death. Read more about Raymond's new book here.