Exploring the implications of the Baby Scoop Era

Yes, your parents were lying to you about everything, your life was a big fake production, and this happened with the extensive support of dozens of people you knew in your local town.  The conspiracy was real and focused entirely on keeping you from knowing who you really were.

It is very popular these days to pick on Boomers and younger Silents as the vanguard of all that is wrong in America today, but the Baby Scoop Era not only happened, it formed a substantial subtext in the lives of many Boomers and their parents.  It’s not even possible to know how exactly many babies were scooped precisely, because destroying or falsifying birth records was part of the process.

And their parents were the Greatest Generation mostly.  “Great” white mothers having babies or conceiving out of wedlock at rates that supposedly didn’t exist before The Great Society, at rates that supposedly were only ever the bane of the black community.  Due to the length of time, some of the oldest Boomers were themselves relinquishing mothers on top of things, so there are layers upon layers here.

This is just a little piece of the context for “the Narrative” and the idea that lying is fine if it’s for a bigger social justice good.  This was not driven exclusively nor primarily by leftists, even if there is a heavy technocratic element involved in much of the Baby Scoop reasoning pushing mothers to relinquish infants.

There really are historical periods, some extremely recent and within living memory, where socially conservative people played fast and loose with the truth, abused and coerced people and were not very honorable people.  And the results weren’t so great either.  This is also part of the subtext behind wanting women to have more economic power and be able to be “strong independent single mothers”.  That didn’t come out of nowhere.

This has interesting implications as well for those who skew heavily towards nature over nurture.


“I raised a family on 40k and you can too!”

I think a lot of people who have kids, and particularly those who are in the vicinity of conservatives have heard some variation on this theme from older folks.  The exact amount varies, but it’s usually 30-50k.  I took the midpoint for this post.

Anyway, here’s a little chart of what 40k in 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 would be in current-year dollars rounded to the nearest 5k.

Decade Annual Household Income in Dollars What It’s Worth In 2020 Dollars
1970 40,000 270,000
1980 40,000 135,000
1990 40,000 80,000
2000 40,000 60,000

I didn’t go back further because most people who say this were raising kids to college ages in the mid-70s to mid-90s.

Feel free to copy-paste this chart in any discussion of costs to raise kids. Calculator used is here.