For almost three decades, Georgia Tann was nationally lauded for her work at her childrens home in Memphis, Tennessee. In reality she was selling many of the boys and girls - often stolen from their parents - to wealthy clients across America. While building her black market business Georgia also invented modern adoption, popularizing it, commercializing it, and corrupting it with secrecy by originating the policy of falsifying adoptees birth certificates - a practice that continues to this day.
"An episode in American adoption history little remembered by the public at large, the crimes of nationally-lauded Memphis orphanage director Georgia Tann are skillfully and passionately recounted by freelance writer Raymond, herself an adoptive mom. The portrait of Tann that emerges is a domineering, indefatigable figure with an insane commitment to ends-justify-the-means logic, who oversaw three decades of baby-stealing, baby-selling and unprecedented neglect.... A riveting array of interviews with Tann's former charges reveals adults still struggling with their adoption ordeal, childhood memories stacked with sexual abuse, torture and confusion. Raymond's dogged investigation makes a strong case for 'ridding adoptions of lies and secrets,' warning that 'until we do, Tann and her imitators will continue to corrupt adoption.' A rigorous, fascinating, page-turning tale, this important book is not for the timorous."
-Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review - 5/28/2007
"The Baby Thief is a fascinating and important book that illuminates a long buried and horrible episode in American history. A chilling tale of greed that 60 Minutes first broadcast back in 1992, but that continues to this day."
-Mike Wallace 60 Minutes correspondent emeritus
"It's difficult to imagine a woman so cold as one who steals babies from sick, single or disadvantaged mothers and sells them to wealthy couples. Or a woman who could exploit the most vulnerable and lonely of children - orphans - by knowingly passing them on to pedophiles. But this woman, according to American author Barbara Bisantz Raymond, not only existed; she helped to shape children's services laws in the US and molded the adoption system as it is today. The woman was Georgia Tann who, between 1924 and 1950, sold more than 5000 children and killed so many through abuse and neglect that the infant mortality rate of Memphis, Tennessee, where she operated her baby-selling business, soared to the highest in the country. Bisantz Raymond, an adoptive parent herself, conducted dozens of interviews with Tann's victims to piece together this book, which tells a story of how adoption was not only popularized in America but also commercialized."
-FRAN METCALF - Perth Now - Australia
"The Baby Thief is fascinating, insightful, chilling and compelling. It is avery important book - and a terrific read."
-Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of Adoption Nation
"Barbara Raymond wonderfully details the life of an influential and terribly cruel woman, and the time and place that allowed her to operate. Anyone interested in the welfare of children should read this remarkable book."
-Larry Brinton Investigative Journalist WSMV - TV Nashville, Tennessee
"How much power can one person have to make social change? In this fascinating account, author (and adoptive mother) Barbara Bisantz Raymond presents a compelling look at the social phenomenon of adoption in the United States, shaped as it is by Tann's crimes. Before the 1920s, few adoptions occurred - popular opinion suggested most orphaned children were somehow morally or constitutionally defective. But Tann realized there could be a market, especially for newborns. Especially if she falsified and fabricated birth records and used her influence to close adoption records. Raymond recounts this astonishing and horrifying true story with tremendous self-awareness and intrepid research into Tann's ongoing legacy."