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
"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."