The legal status of a child born to unwed parents, now more properly described as "out-of-wedlock" or "nonmarital."
In the United States, illegitimacy, or "bastardy," was formerly a great stigma on a person, and people born out of wedlock were presumed to be "bad." Until recent years, BIRTH CERTIFICATES of those born out of wedlock were often a different color from those born legitimately and were separated and locked in special vaults.
With the increase in the divorce rate and the resulting trend toward acceptability of single parenthood, the negative connotations associated with out-of-wedlock births have radically declined; however, there are still many people who harbor negative views toward persons born out of wedlock.
There are cases today, even in our "enlightened" age, of parents casting out their unmarried daughters who are pregnant. Although out-of-wedlock births are far more common today than 10 or 20 years ago, pregnant girls are sometimes tainted with the image of being "fast" or "cheap," and their child (or children) is also looked down upon.
Find more information on illegitimacy
©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
To see local Adoption resources, please select a location (U.S. only):
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.