THE UNMARRIED MOTHER AND THE OUT-OF-WEDLOCK CHILD
Children born out of wedlock account for some 90 per cent of adoptions by nonrelatives. Consequently many of the agencies that offer adoptive services also offer services to the unmarried mother. The discussion of adoption services in Chapter 10 is, then, logically preceded by a discussion of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and services to the unwed mother.
Aside from the relationship to adoption, the unmarried mother and the out- of-wedlock child present a situation in itself requiring the intervention of child welfare services. It is a parent--child relationship in which one of the significant roles, that of the father, is not covered, thus increasing the risk that the needs of the child will not be fully met. Consequently child welfare agencies offering adoptive and other services are heavily involved with the unmarried mother and the out-of-wedlock child.
The attitude toward illegitimacy is related to family structure. Negative attitudes toward illegitimacy are designed to protect the monogamous family and the associated marital ties. Polygamous societies make little of technical illegitimacy. The Christian attitude toward monogamy and extramarital sexuality resulted in the development of a more punitive attitude toward illegitimacy. Religious sanctions were reinforced by secular motives during the Middle Ages to solidify such an attitude. As Krause ( 1971) notes:
It was natural that men, as legislators, would have limited their accidental offsprings' claims against them both economically and in terms of a family relationship, especially since the social status of the illegitimate mother often did not equal their own. Moreover, their legitimate wives bad an interest in denying the illegitimate's claim on their husbands, since any such claim could be allowed only
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Publication information: Book title: Child Welfare Services. Edition: 3rd. Contributors: Alfred Kadushin - Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1980. Page number: 413.