Legal child adoption was invented in the state of Massachusetts, USA, in 1851 with the passage of the “Adoption of Children Act.” This law then spread to other countries, including to Scotland in 1926 with the passage of a law governing the United Kingdom. Before that point, children were fostered and had guardians, but were not legally adopted in a way that forcibly and legally separated them from their parents.
It is a myth that adoption has existed throughout human history. Modern legal child adoption changes three things: It transfers parental rights, inheritance rights, and filiation. Filiation is “who is legally related to whom” and this recognition is stripped from the natural parents by child adoption and is given solely to the people who adopted, something which did not occur prior to 1851 and certainly not in any nations which had other models of substitute care for children.
Articles about Adoption