Children at an adoption home, Sydenham Hill, London, 1938.
© NMeM / Daily Herald Archive / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of two children standing in the snow looking in at a group of children and nurses standing at a window, taken by Edward Malindine for the Daily Herald newspaper on 20 December, 1938. This festive scene with snow and Christmas decorations was taken at the National Children Adoption Association's home in south east London. Although adoption and fostering has taken place informally for centuries, adoption was legally recognised in Britain in the 1920s. By 1938, the Adoption Association was placing on average one child a day into a receiving family. Later in the century, however, the number of babies available for adoption fell rapidly. This was mainly the result of improved birth control and changing public attitudes towards illegitimacy and single-parent families.