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Parental information for the adopted child : a descriptive study of relationships between adoptive parents… Taylor, Audrey Rothnie 1957

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PARENTAL INFORMATION FOR THE ADOPTED CHILD A Descriptive Study of Relationships between Adoptive Parents and Adopted Children between the Ages of Six and Ten, Based on Children's Aid Society of Vancouver Cases, 1947-1957. AUDREY ROTHNIE TAYLOR Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK in the School of Social Work Accepted as conforming to the standard required for the degree of Master of Social ¥ol"k School of Social Work 1957 The University of Br i t i s h Columbia i i i ABSTRACT Because of the growing recognition that early, continuous and warm relationships are essential for a child's healthy develop-ment, i t i s important that children be placed in their adoptive home as early as possible and that the home be well chosen. But information about the origins of an adopted child i s specially si g -nificant in several ways. The purpose of this thesis i s to explore the subject of how adoptive parents t e l l their child he i s adopted, and to assess their feelings and attitudes on this topic. For exploratory purposes, seven adoptive homes were selected from the f i l e s of the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver for study. The adoptions had been completed from five to nine years ago. Each child had been placed in his adoptive home as an infant under 5 momths of age. A l l adoptive parents were interviewed, also the natural parents' f i l e and adoption home f i l e s were studied. The study includes a brief description of the adoptive parents, their home, the child, and his adjustment in the home. The subject of t e l l i n g the child he i s adopted i s focussed particularly on (a) method of giving the information; (b) time of introduction of the subject; (c) the child's reaction; and (d) questions asked by the child. The analysis of the material obtained indicates that these adoptive parents accepted as their responsibility t e l l i n g their child he was adopted. Typically,the simple facts of how he came to live with them were told to the child as soon as he was old enough to understand. However, none of the children i n the group studied had asked any questions about their natural parents, and a l l parents signified that they would wait un t i l their child asked specific questions. This suggests that adoptive parents have d i f f i c u l t i e s in accepting natural parents, and their main area of concern is how and when to t e l l their child about them. It i s indicated that adoption workers should give more guidance to adoptive parents before and after placement i n this area, and that adoptive parents should be encouraged to return to the agency for help i f needed. iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to express my sincere thanks to Mrs. Helen Exner and Dr. L. C. Marsh for their invaluable guidance, encouragement and much-appreciated interest in the development of this thesis. My sincere thanks also to Miss Dorothy L. Coombe, Director of the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver, and her staff for the use of case material. i i TABLE OF CONTMTS Chapter I. The Practice of Adoption. Some early history. Trends in adoption practices on this continent; significant changes of the post-war decade; current standards and principles of adoption. Legal aspects of adoption; the Adoption Act of Bri t i s h Columbia. The adoption policy of the Children's Aid Society of Van-couver with regard to children placed as infants. Some aspects of the adoption home study. Objectives and method of study 1 Chapter II. Giving Background Information. Individual needs of adoptive parents; discussion of child; pertinent information to help adoptive parents identify with child. Anxieties of adoptive parents about unknown factors in child's history. Pathology i n child's history. Guidance by adoption workers to adoptive parents with feelings about t e l l i n g child he i s adopted 19 Chapter III. Telling the Child He i s Adopted. Philosophy regarding t e l l i n g children they are adopted. Recorded interviews with seven adoptive parents where child was placed i n infancy and legal adoption was completed five to nine years ago. Feelings and attitudes of adoptive parents towards t e l l i n g child he i s adopted; method and type of information given to child; child's response. Adoptive parents' reaction to help given by agency in this area 30 Chapter IV. The Child Becomes a Member of the Family. Analysis of material obtained in interviews. Ac-ceptance of child as a member of the family. Emotional conflict of adoptive parents; concern about and withholding information regarding natural parents. The Social Worker's role in this area of adoption practice 53 Appendix A, Bibliography 63 PARENTAL INFOEMATIOU FOR THE ADOPTED CHILD CHAPTER I THE PRACTICE OF ADOPTION. 'Adoption, a process involving the acquisition of legal parents other than by b i r t h , has. survived many changes and modi-fic a t i o n s through the-years, and has, gradually become a v i t a l and important"part of the present-day c h i l d welfare programme. The present widespread interest i n the. adoption of children i s one of the most interesting developments i n the f i e l d of child-care. The purpose of adoption, today, i n North America i s to provide, a c h i l d with healthy, secure family' relationships, which are recognized as an-essential for the development of. a personality which can -meet, the challenges and problems of l i f e . Adoption today has become the concern of social agencies, since social agencies, pa r t i c u l a r l y those dealing, with aspects of c h i l d welfare, under-stand the special needs of children,. and; are developing s k i l l s and techniques for successful adoptive placement of children. Brief H i s t o r i c a l Background • : ; : The problem of children without parents i s as old as mankind. Records of the: Babylonians', ancient Gr.eeks, and' ancient Jews,, reveal that they a l l practiced- some form pf adoption". '• In Oriental cultures, u n t i l recently, children who lost their;-parents were cared for by relatives, no matter how distant. In ancient - 2 -Roman times the law p r o v i d e d f o r the a d o p t i o n of a d u l t s t o save a f a m i l y l i n e from e x t i n c t i o n or t o p r o v i d e s t r o n g , l e a d e r s h i p . E a r l y C h r i s t i a n s gathered dependent c h i l d r e n t o g e t h e r and p l a c e d them i n l a r g e i n s t i t u t i o n s , and l a t e r they were cared f o r i n mo n a s t e r i e s . i n England, d u r i n g the p e r i o d o f the f e u d a l system, these c h i l d r e n were c a r e d f o r w i t h i n t h e i r economic groups. How-ever, when the f e u d a l system d i s i n t e g r a t e d , t h e r e was no l o n g e r t h i s type of c a r e a v a i l a b l e , and the government had t o .take some action-. The E l i z a b e t h a n s t a t u t e of 1601 made each community r e s -p o n s i b l e f o r the care of i t s dependent c h i l d r e n . Under t h i s s y s -tem, o l d e r c h i l d r e n were put to work and i n d e n t u r e d and t h i s sometimes l e d to a d o p t i o n l a t e r . L a t e r , d u r i n g the I n d u s t r i a l R e v o l u t i o n , dependent c h i l d r e n were so e x p l o i t e d t h a t r e l i g i o u s and p h i l a n t h r o p i c b o d i e s s e t up l a r g e i n s t i t u t i o n s , which d i d much t o a l l e v i a t e s u f f e r i n g and; e x p l o i t a t i o n . I n time, placement i n l a r g e i n s t i t u t i o n s was ; r e p l a c e d t o some extent by b o a r d i n g c h i l d r e n ' i n f a m i l y homes, r which sometimes l e d t o the a d o p t i o n o f the c h i l d r e n by t h e i r f o s t e r p a r e n t s . I n t h e modern w o r l d , a d o p t i o n has:, nov^ almost u n i v e r s a l l y , the- s a n c t i o n o f l e g a l s t a t u t e s . The Greek and Roman laws formed the b a s i s f o r a d o p t i o n laws i n most c o u n t r i e s of. the modern w o r l d . I n the U n i t e d S t a t e s , the s t a t e of Massachusetts was : the f i r s t i : stq.te t o r e c o g n i z e a d o p t i o n l e g a l l y and. p r o v i d e f o r i t i n s t a t e - 3 -l e g i s l a t i o n i n I85I. Eventually a l l states recognized adoption, although the laws vary widely from state to state. Canada, i n the nineteenth century, provided-for i t s dependent children by placing them i n orphanages usually supported by the church. However, there were many children placed with families, and considered a member of the family group without change of legal status, u n t i l Nova Scotia enacted the f i r s t adop-tion act i n I896. How each province has i t s own act. The Adop-tion Act d i f f e r s i n each province, i n d e t a i l , but the basic principles are similar. A l l the provincial acts i n this country hold that the adoption order divests the natural parents of their legal rights regarding the chil d , although i n some instances the ch i l d may inherit from them as well as from the adopting parents. It confers on the adopting parents and adopted c h i l d a l l legal privileges and re s p o n s i b i l i t i e s inherent i n the parent-child relationship. Recent Adoption Practices The post-war decade has brought much new knowledge i • about the development of children. Many old maxims of c h i l d rearing are being abandoned as the needs of the children are being better understood. Along with this deeper understanding of the chil d , there has been a s h i f t and a change of emphasis i n adoption practice.,. - 4 -This emphasis has shifted from protection "of adopting parents against adopting a c h i l d with a "questionable back-ground", to the protection of the c h i l d from adoptive parents with "questionable feelings and a b i l i t i e s " as adoptive parents. This s h i f t of concern from the s u i t a b i l i t y of children to the adequacy of adoptive parents i s evident, for example, i n an ad-dress given by Florence Brown at the New York State Welfare Con-ference i n November, 1950* pointing out the need for a careful evaluation of the applicants' readiness for adoptive parenthood. Miss Brown stresses the importance of assessing (a) personality adjustment, (b) family relationships, (c) motivation i n adopting, and (d) attitudes towards infertility."'' Formerly, c h i l d placement agencies were much concerned with "matching" the c h i l d to his adoptive family from the point of view of nationality, mentality and physical appearance. In a recent a r t i c l e , Dr. Shapiro, Chairman of the New York Department of Anthropology, makes an assessment of cultura l , r a c i a l and national factors and questions the wisdom of placing any emphasis on matching. He states that a.young c h i l d learns and acquires the attitudes of his adoptive parents, and encounters no more d i f f i c u l t y than the natural c h i l d i n his learning from.his own parents. Dr. Shapiro points out that "national differences" are cultural differences and should be regarded as such. He deplores the fact that particular personality and psychological character-i s t i c s are attributed to certain races. The only psychological 1. Brown, Florence, "What Do We Seek i n Adoptive Parents?", Social Casework, A p r i l 1951' - 5 -quality which has h.een explained to any extent on a r a c i a l basis i s intelligence, as measured by various standardized tests that involve both verbal and non-verbal responses. The scores on these tests are apparently influenced i n varying degree by educa-tion, milieu and other environmental factors. Therefore, to some extent, differences between races subjected to divergent i n f l u -ences can be discounted as non-genetic and non-racial. However, whether a l l the differences can be attributed to non-genetic factors i s s t i l l controversial. But i n any event the difference i s r e l a t i v e l y small compared to the range within-any r a c i a l group. High and low I.Q.s are found i n a l l r a c i a l groups, and from our present knowledge i t appears that a variety of personality types are also found i n a l l r a c i a l grpups.^ The new knowledge about the needs and development of children has resulted i n e a r l i e r adoptive placement. Many authori-t i e s , such as Arnold Gesell, Florence Clothier, Margaret Ribble and John Bowlby, have pointed out that continuous mothering i s of paramount importance to the progress and well-being of the infant. Dr. Bowlby has pointed out the dangers of deferring adoption placement'on the assumption that a more/accurate evalua-tion of the c h i l d w i l l be possible after a few months. The period of waiting i n an atmosphere that lacks "psychological mothering" -such as insti t u t i o n s and crowded receiving-homes for babies - i s l i k e l y to produce retardation, which i s then taken as evidence 1. Shapiro, H.L., "Anthropology and Adoption Practice", Child Welfare, December 1955. - 6 -t h a t the c h i l d i s i n h e r e n t l y backward. Hence, t h e r e develops a p a r a d o x i c a l s i t u a t i o n i n which the d e l a y i n a r r a n g i n g f o r adop-t i o n c r e a t e s a c o n d i t i o n i n the c h i l d which may make him u l t i -m ately " u n f i t f o r adoption".''" -The Los Angeles County Bureau o f i A d o p t i o n s o b t a i n e d e x c e l l e n t r e s u l t s w i t h a d o p t i v e placements e f f e c t e d d i r e c t l y from the h o s p i t a l . A l l f o r t y - f i v e such placements made d u r i n g the p e r i o d 1952-54 seemed to be f a v o r a b l e , w i t h i n t h a t l i m i t e d p e r i o d at l e a s t . The placements had the t h r e e - f o l d advantage of s e r v i n g w e l l the c h i l d r e n , the n a t u r a l p a r e n t s , and the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . The c h i l d r e n developed w e l l i n t h e i r permanent homes. The n a t u r a l mothers f e l t much more c o m f o r t a b l e about g i v i n g up, t h e i r b a b i e s f o r a d o p t i o n w i t h o u t h a v i n g t o w a i t f o r the i n f a n t " t o prove him-s e l f good enough" f o r a d o p t i o n . The suspense i n v o l v e d i n d e l a y i s o f t e n so d i f f i c u l t f o r the mothers t h a t i t hampers t h e i r r e h a b i -l i t a t i o n . ..The a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s were happy w i t h the d i r e c t p l a c e -ments, f e e l i n g the c h i l d more t h e i r own because they c o u l d p a r t i -2 c i p a t e so e a r l y i n h i s growth. To p o i n t up the changes t h a t have been t a k i n g p l a c e i n agency :adoption p r a c t i c e i n the U n i t e d S t a t e s and Canada, even i n a b r i e f p e r i o d , comparison of the r e p o r t s of the f i r s t and second workshop on "Adoption P r a c t i c e s , Procedures and Problems" of the 1. Bowlby , i -J.-,. M a t e r n a l Care and M e n t a l H e a l t h , Columbia U n i v e r s i t y Press,- New York, -19,5,1 • - 2 . Lynch,; 1=., and Mertz,;''A.,E.,. "Adoptive Placement" of I n f a n t s D i r e c t l y ..from the H o s p i t a l " , S o c i a l Casework, December 1955. • C h i l d W e l f a r e League of America w i l l he e n l i g h t e n i n g . The f i r s t r e p o r t was p u b l i s h e d i n 1949 a * i d the second i n 1952. The f i r s t workshop was i a t t e n d e d by 75 r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of 51 agencies from the U n i t e d S t a t e s and Canada. The second workshop was attended by 103 r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s from 87 agencies from the same c o u n t r i e s . On ee^ch o c c a s i o n the i n f o r m a t i o n g i v e n by the p a r t i c i p a n t s at the workshop was supplemented by i n f o r m a t i o n compiled from answers submitted t o a q u e s t i o n n a i r e by 67 agencies i n 1949? a n ( i 94 agen-c i e s i n 1952. I n 1949j 80 per cent of the member agencies were l o o k i n g f o r the " p e r f e c t c h i l d w i t h the p e r f e c t background" f o r a d o p t i o n placement, w h i l e i n 1952 o n l y 60 per cent of the r e p o r t -i n g agencies gave as a c o n d i t i o n f o r a d o p t i o n t h a t the c h i l d ' s background be a l t o g e t h e r " h e a l t h y " and o n l y 47 per cent of the agencies gave as a c o n d i t i o n t h a t c h i l d r e n be " f r e e from h a n d i -caps" . I n 1949, the p a r t i c i p a t i n g agencies d i d not approve of e a r l y placements, b e l i e v i n g t h a t t h e r e was too much r i s k f o r a d o p t i n g p a r e n t s . I n 1952, however, the agencies b e l i e v e d t h a t a c h i l d s h o u l d be p l a c e d f o r a d o p t i o n "as e a r l y as p o s s i b l e " . The f o c u s has s h i f t e d from p r o t e c t i o n of a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s from p o s s i b l e r i s k s , to p l a n n i n g f o r the be s t i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d r e n . A change of thi n k i n g ' w a s a l s o r e v e a l e d i n agency a t t i -tudes towards i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f , r e a s o n s f o r the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s * i n f e r t i l i t y . The 1949 r e p o r t s t a t e s t h a t t h i s q u e s t i o n was r a r e l y d i s c u s s e d or i n v e s t i g a t e d , i n or d e r t o save a d o p t i v e a p p l i c a n t s , - 8 -embarrassment. I n (1-952, however, ahout 40 per cent of the p a r t i r -c i p a t i n g agencies r e q u i r e d a r e p o r t on s t e r i l i t y , and d i s c u s s i o n w i t h the a p p l i c a n t s r e g a r d i n g t h e i r f e e l i n g s about t h e i r i n a b i l i t y t o have n a t u r a l c h i l d r e n . Another important change i n a t t i t u d e i s n o t i c e a b l e i n the'. i n c r e a s i n g w i l l i n g n e s s of a d o p t i o n workers to accept the r e s -p o n s i b i l i t y of d e c i d i n g on the adoptability of the c h i l d . I n 1949? 17 agencies r e p o r t e d t h a t t h e y ' r e l i e d almost e n t i r e l y on the r e -commendation (of a - p s y c h i a t r i s t as t o whether a c h i l d was a d o p t i b l e , and 13 agencies r e p o r t e d t h a t they d e l e g a t e d t h i s d e c i s i o n t o t h e i r p h y s i c i a n . I n c o n t r a s t , the p a r t i c i p a t i n g agencies i n 1952 p l a c e d t h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y where i t b e l o n g s : the d e c i s i o n f o r ad o p t i o n i s a casework r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , , a l t h o u g h i n some cases a s p e c i a l i s t ' s o p i n i o n s h o u l d be sought. Today, a d o p t i o n i s c o n s i d e r e d the b e s t p l a n f o r every c h i l d who i s f r e e to be adopted and who can b e n e f i t from t h e ad-vantages of f a m i l y l i f e . L e g a l Aspects of Ad o p t i o n i n B r i t i s h Columbia , A d o p t i o n A c t s throughout Canada v a r y i n d e t a i l , but t h e i r b a s i c p r i n c i p l e s are s i m i l a r . The a d o p t i o n a c t of B r i t i s h Columbia p r o v i d e s t h a t the c h i l d must have r e s i d e d w i t h , and" been m a i n t a i n e d by, the' a d o p t i n g parents f o r a p e r i o d of at l e a s t one y e a r , b e f o r e p e r m i s s i o n to adopt may be requested' from the. c o u r t . There are certain legal procedures which must he followed before the petition can be presented i n Supreme Court, and the adoption order granted by the presiding judge. At least six months before the, petition i s f i l e d , the adoptive parents must notify the Superintendent of Child Welfare of their intention to adopt. The Superintendent reports to the court before the date of hearing, recommending that the adoption order be granted or not, as the case may be. This report i s prepared by the social worker who has been supervising the adoption home during the probation period. If,- on the basis of this report, the Judge i s s a t i s f i e d that the home i s suitable for the'child he issues the adoption order. This order establishes a l l legal privileges and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s between adopting parents and c h i l d . The; following written consents are required and presented with the report to the court: 1 . Consent of natural parents; 2 . Child's consent i f he i s 12 years of age or over; 3 . Legal husband's consent i f the natural mother was married at the time of the b i r t h of this c h i l d ( i f the mother was unmarried her consent i s suf-f i c i e n t ) . Consent of the natural parents may be waived under special circum-stances, for example,. when the parents are incapable of giving consent, or i f they cannot be located. An a f f i d a v i t s e t t i n g f o r t h the' reasons why the consent cannot be; obtained is..required when the court i s asked to waive parental consent. - 10 -•Children who have no parent capable of giving s a t i s -• factory care and who are judged unadoptable, are made wards of the agency (guardianship i s transferred from the parents to' the agency by a court order). However, i f this c h i l d 'is i n due course placed for adoption, parental consent i s s t i l l required. This i s so because parents have the right to apply to the court for the return of their c h i l d after guardianship has been transferred to the agency. In addition, natural parents sign a consent to the adoption of their c h i l d into a home which has been discussed with them, and to which they have given their approval. Consent i n B r i t i s h Columbia, at the time of placement, i s not relinquishment of the rights' of the natural parents, as they must be contacted i f the adoption placement f a i l s , and i f the ch i l d i s placed i n another adoption home, a new consent must be obtained from the natural parents. Adoption Policy and Procedure of the Children's Aid Society of  Vancouver with regard to children placed as-infants. . Adoption involves- re s p o n s i b i l i t y to three groups of people: 1. • to the children for whom an; adoptive plan is, being considered., or has-been decided upon; 2. •• to the natural parents; 3 . to adoptive- parents. The Children's Aid.. Society of Vancouver, l i k e a l l . other modern c h i l d placement agencies, believes that the needs of the c h i l d must be the'primary focus of i t s policy and procedures. They believe, too, that adoption i s the best plan for every c h i l d free to be adopted and who can benefit from the advantages of family l i f e . They consider early placements, preferably d i r e c t l y from hospital, as best for the infant because of the importance to him of continuous loving care from b i r t h . They fe e l the need to constantly remind themselves that a lifetime decision i s being made affecting the natural parents, the c h i l d and the adoptive family. Ih most cases the c h i l d cannot speak for himself, his future therefore depends on the wisdom and in t e g r i t y of the social worker, with some guidance from the a l l i e d professions of medicine, psychiatry, law, and the l i k e . They further believe that research into the cause of their f a i l u r e s and success and the development of deeper understanding and greater s k i l l can help them carry out their r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s with increasing-confidence and security. Planning for infants to be placed for adoption follows a well established procedure i n the Children's Aid Society of Van-couver. Weekly conferences are held attended by: (1) workers who have been working with the mothers and fathers planning adoption for their babies, (2) workers who supervise children of various ages for whom adoption i s being considered as a probable plan, (3) adoption department supervisors and workers who work with adoptive applicants, (4) placement supervisors,. Child Welfare Division. At this conference the mother's worker presents the background information and a description of the c h i l d . On the basis of this information, the adoption workers who feel they have a family that might meet the needs of this particular c h i l d state they have a home for consideration. The mother's worker and adoption work-ers who have submitted homes discuss i n conference the s u i t a b i l i t y of the various homes and decide together on one (or two, i f con-sidered, advisable) families. The chosen home i s then discussed with the natural mother who i s given relevant information that i s not i d e n t i f i a b l e . If she i s s a t i s f i e d with the description, the adoption worker i s not i f i e d and she contacts the adopting parents and discusses the c h i l d with them. They are given information about the child's background, usually beginning with what the prospective parents want to know. Further discussion about the giving of background information w i l l be dealt with i n another chapter. If the adopting parents are interested i n the baby, arrangements are made for them to see him. Following the v i s i t with the infant, s u f f i c i e n t time i s given adopting parents to think and talk over between themselves and with their worker their decision about taking the c h i l d . I f the couple reaches out for the child, and he responds positively, their worker ar-ranges for their doctor to examine the baby. When the adopting parents' doctor i s s a t i s f i e d with the health of the infant, he advises the adopting parents who inform their worker. - 13 -On the day of placement, the adoption worker accompanies the adopting parents- to the hospital or the foster-home, and makes sure they receive a l l necessary information about the infant's formula, care, habits and ways, and are feeling as comfortable as possible i n their new rol e . Before effecting the transfer of the chil d , the adoption worker must ascertain that the necessary con-sents have been secured. The probationary period has as i t s objective the further development of the potentials of the adopting couples as good parents, and the worker's role i s to help with problems that arise i n the adjustment.of the c h i l d and the parents to each other. During this period, the parents should be encouraged to discuss with the worker their plan f o r t e l l i n g the c h i l d he i s adopted, and be given help i f i t i s needed with this •.responsibility. Obser-vation, of the c h i l d and discussion with the parents w i l l enable the worker to assess the child's development and his place i n the home. His general health, his appearance, his a c t i v i t i e s and his relationship to members of the family are a l l indications of his adjustment. The adoption of the f i r s t c h i l d should be completed before.a second c h i l d i s placed i n the home, except where siblings are placed i n the same home. If a c h i l d beyond infancy i s to be placed i n the home, he should be placed f i r s t , never after an infant has been placed. A second c h i l d should be at least ten months younger than the f i r s t , as would be true i n a natural family. I f d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d i t i s apparent t h a t the c h i l d 'and the p a r e n t s cannot make a good adjustment, the worker must h e l p the p a r e n t s to see t h i s , and r e l i n q u i s h the c h i l d . T h i s i s a d i f f i c u l t e x p e rience f o r a l l , and r e q u i r e s s k i l l and courage on the p a r t of the worker. B r i e f D e s c r i p t i o n of the Home Study. D u r i n g the l a s t decade more and more.- emphasis has been p l a c e d on the home study as the c r u x of s u c c e s s f u l a d o p t i o n p l a c e -ments. The o b j e c t i v e i s t o §.elect f a m i l i e s who w i l l be a b l e t o g i v e l o v e , s e c u r i t y , and u n d e r s t a n d i n g to a c h i l d not b o r n to them. There i s c o n s i d e r a b l e v a r i a t i o n i n the method of con-d u c t i n g the home study, but the-, b a s i c i n f o r m a t i o n and assessment i s v e r y s i m i l a r . The home study i s conducted through a s e r i e s of i n t e r v i e w s w i t h b o t h par e n t s t o g e t h e r and w i t h each parent s e p a r a t e l y . These are a c o mbination of home v i s i t s and o f f i c e i n t e r v i e w s . The f i r s t i n t e r v i e w w i t h b o t h p a r e n t s -is, u s u a l l y devoted t o :a d e s c r i p -t i o n of the a d o p t i o n programme of the agency and what the s t u d y w i l l i n v o l v e . An a p p l i c a t i o n i s g i v e n when i t has been e s t a b l i s h e d t h a t the agency and the c o u p l e are ready to go on w i t h the s t u d y . As a p a r t of the home study a m e d i c a l r e p o r t i s r e q u i r e d - the C h i l d r e n ' s A i d S o c i e t y of Vancouver r e q u i r e s the p h y s i c i a n t o com-p l e t e a m e d i c a l form g i v e n t o the a p p l i c a n t s by the agency. Any q u e s t i o n a b l e m e d i c a l r e p o r t s are d i s c u s s e d w i t h the agency m e d i c a l c o n s u l t a n t s . - 15 -F o l l o w i n g the m e d i c a l c l e a r a n c e , the home study proceeds. Dr. P e t e r Neubauer, who has had gr e a t experience i n t h i s a r e a , has p o i n t e d out t h a t one cannot p r e d i c t what k i n d of pa r e n t s a p p l i -c a n t s w i l l make, hut t h a t one can measure the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the m o t i v a t i o n s which l e d them t o c o n s i d e r a d o p t i o n and t h e i r l i f e e x p e r i e n c e s which made them what they are."'' The r e l a t i o n s h i p of the pa r e n t s to each o t h e r i n the present, p l a n t o adopt i s i m p o r t a n t . The q u e s t i o n of emotional preparedness f o r a c h i l d needs t o be i n v e s t i g a t e d i n the p r e s e n t . To get the answers to some of these q u e s t i o n s , i t i s necessary, t o go back to some of the past ex p e r i e n c e s of the p r o s p e c t i v e p a r e n t s . What k i n d of problems d i d they have i n t h e i r own c h i l d h o o d - how d i d they handle t h e i r problems and how do they f e e l about them -what are t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h t h e i r f a m i l i e s and w i t h people o t h e r than t h e i r f a m i l i e s ? What do they expect or hope f o r from a c h i l d ? How do they f e e l about t h e i r own i n a b i l i t y t o have n a t u r a l c h i l d r e n ? What have t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s w i t h c h i l d r e n been? Do they have the a b i l i t y t o meet dependency y e t encourage growth? What are t h e i r f e e l i n g s about h e r e d i t y ? What are t h e i r i d e a s about t r a i n i n g and d i s c i p l i n e ? What are t h e i r f e e l i n g s and a t t i t u d e s about nei g h b o r s ' and r e l a t i v e s ' c h i l d r e n ? I t i s p r e f e r a b l e to p l a c e c h i l d r e n w i t h p a r e n t s of an 1. Neubauer, P e t e r , "What the P s y c h i a t r i s t Can C o n t r i b u t e t o t h e . E v a l u a t i o n of the A d o p t i v e P a r e n t s " , A d o p t i o n . P r a c t i c e s , Procedures and Problems, C h i l d W e l f a r e League of America, I n c . , March 1952. - 16 -; a g e ; " n a t u r a l " f o r the c h i l d . Thus i n f a n t s are not p l a c e d w i t h women over f o r t y . I n accordance w i t h the law a d o p t i v e p l a c e -ments s h o u l d never c r o s s major r e l i g i o u s l i n e s , i n or d e r t o p r o t e c t the c h i l d from r e l i g i o u s c o n f l i c t . The c h i l d s h o u l d he p l a c e d i n a home where t h e r e i s some r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f but t h e r e i s no s e t c r i t e r i o n of j u s t how much r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f i s expected from a d o p t i v e a p p l i c a n t s . S t a b i l i t y and c o n t i n u i t y of income i s expected, but the amount of income i s of no primary importance as l o n g as i t s u f f i c e s to keep the c h i l d i n good h e a l t h , t o permit him t o m a i n t a i n h i s s e l f - r e s p e c t , and t o p r o - '•' v i d e him w i t h a b a s i c e d u c a t i o n . A t t i t u d e s about income are im p o r t a n t , as i s the c a p a c i t y t o use money w i s e l y . To h e l p the couple p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e i r own assessment i s one of the most important c o n s i d e r a t i o n s i n c o n d u c t i n g the home study. The success of the ad o p t i o n w i l l depend on the de-gree t o which the a p p l i c a n t s t h i n k through, understand, and a c -cept what i s i n v o l v e d i n a d o p t i o n . The agency's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o a d o p t i v e a p p l i c a n t s makes i t necessary to a v o i d unnecessary p a i n by e f f e c t i n g r e j e c -t i o n s as e a r l y and as s k i l l f u l l y as p o s s i b l e . I t i s important t h a t a p p l i c a n t s have the f e e l i n g t h a t i t i s t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n f o r a c h i l d , and not themselves as people, who have been - r e j e c t e d . Wherever p o s s i b l e a p p l i c a n t s t o be r e j e c t e d s h o u l d be helped t o withdraw on t h e i r own i n i t i a t i v e . - 17 -Method of Present Study The special purpose of this study i s - t o examine how a ..-selected group of adoptive parents f e l t about t e l l i n g their c h i l d he was adopted; how they explained to him the facts and circum-stances of his adoption; the child's reaction to these facts, and the questions, i f any, he asked. The study i s deliberately exploratory and qualitative i n form. The families studied were chosen from the f i l e s of the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver and were cases i n which the adoption had been completed between seven and eleven years ago. The families had similar economic and r a c i a l backgrounds and the children had been placed with them as infants, four months old or younger. Some of the families had adopted more than one chil d , but the discussion i n this study concerns only the f i r s t c h i l d to be-adopted.. Information regarding the calibre of the marriage and the reasons for childlessness was obtained from the records. The information was secured through interviews and was dependent upon the family's willingness to be interviewed. Be-cause of limited time, one interview with each family had to be su f f i c i e n t . In a l l but one family, the evaluation i s given on the basis of-talking with one member of the family, the adoptive mother. It was clear, however, that both mother and father had discussed the material prior to the v i s i t . - 18 -The purpose of the study was explained to the family on i n i t i a l contact, indicating that i t would he of value i n helping new adoptive applicants, i f they could''evaluate and share their experiences. CHAPTER II . GIVING BACKGROUND INFORMATION IN ADOPTION. . The giving of information to the adoptive parents about the c h i l d and his family background i s an important part of the adoptive process, but one which i s often less well thought out than other parts of the over-all procedure. At the present time, there are differences i n opinion as to how much information should be given, and considerable disagreement on what constitutes information that i s dangerous or not necessary to share. It was agreed at the Child Welfare League of America National Conference on Adoption i n April, 1956, that research i s needed on this subjept. It appears that objective data i n regard to what adoptive parents have wanted to know about the background of their adopted children, and what children have wanted to know about their parents, i s to a large extent lacking. Agencies.do i n many cases learn of less successful adoption' placements when problems arise with the children and come to l i g h t at Juvenile Courts or Child Guidance C l i n i c s . Very successful placements are l i k e l y to be well known, too • but few studies have been done i n the large in-between group. As was pointed out ^before, legal adoption has been known on this continent for almost 100 years, but i t i s s t i l l a - 20 -c o m p a r a t i v e l y new f i e l d i n which the p r o f e s s i o n a l s o c i a l c a s e -work method has been a p p l i e d . An excerpt from A Follow-up Study o f Ad o p t i v e F a m i l i e s - C h i l d A d o p t i o n Research Committee, r e v e a l s t h a t " a d o p t i o n has been r o o t e d i n the t r a d i t i o n t h a t a d o p t i v e parents a f f o r d a r e s o u r c e f o r the car e of the dependent c h i l d d e p r i v e d of n n a t u r a l family., t i e s . The a d o p t i v e f a m i l y , i n consequence, was not thought of as a p p l y i n g t o the ad o p t i o n agency; but r a t h e r was o f f e r i n g t o take a c h i l d i n t o t h e i r home and assume...complete r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r him. U n l i k e o t h e r c l i e n t s of s o c i a l agencies who were seen as people w i t h problems, complex m o t i v a t i o n s and mixed f e e l i n g s , h a v i n g t h e i r own d i f f i c u l t y i n a p p l y i n g f o r h e l p o t h e r f a m i l i e s managed adequately w i t h o u t , a d o p t i v e a p p l i c a n t s were not approached as c l i e n t s a t a l l . Rather, i n the b e g i n n i n g s of a d o p t i o n work, the approach of the a d o p t i o n worker was v e r y much l i k e t h a t of the l a y community s e e i n g o n l y the g e n e r o s i t y and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the a d o p t i v e f a m i l i e s , and the f i n a n c i a l , s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l o p p o r t u n i t i e s they c o u l d a f f o r d a child;"''"-' I n r e c e n t y e a r s , however, as a d o p t i o n came under the guidance of the p r o f e s s i o n a l caseworker i t was r e c o g n i z e d t h a t t h e r e are t h r e e s e t s of c l i e n t s , the c h i l d , the n a t u r a l mother o r p a r e n t s , and the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . From t h i s . n e w f o c u s , new techniques have developed. 1. A Follow-up Study of A d o p t i v e F a m i l i e s , C h i l d A d o p t i o n Research Committee, New York, March 1951- p.l34« - 21 -I n s p i t e of the v a r i e d o p i n i o n s about the d i s c u s s i o n s of background i n f o r m a t i o n w i t h p r o s p e c t i v e p a r e n t s , i t i s g e n e r a l -l y agreed t h a t a f a m i l y s h o u l d be g i v e n as much i n f o r m a t i o n as t h e agency has, which i s p e r t i n e n t to the c h i l d ' s f u t u r e d e v e l o p -ment. How much more i n f o r m a t i o n i s s t i l l a c o n t r o v e r s i a l s u b j e c t . A r e c e n t a r t i c l e , "Some Suggestions f o r P r a c t i c e i n I n f a n t Adop-t i o n " , suggests t h a t "two t h i n g s are e s s e n t i a l to a c h i l d ' s h e a l t h y s o l u t i o n of h i s o e d i p a l and p r e - o e d i p a l emotional l i f e : (1) he s h o u l d have a sense of b e i n g l o v e d , w i t h a l l the s e c u r i t y i m p l i c i t i n such l o v e ; (2.), he s h o u l d b e l i e v e i n the s i m p l e decency of h i s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s . I f he i s i l l e g i t i m a t e , he i s much more deeply a f f e c t e d by such a s o c i o l o g i c a l problem as i l l e g i t i m a c y than he_ would be o t h e r w i s e . I n order to a c h i e v e these two con-s i d e r a t i o n s , any h i s t o r y not p e r t i n e n t t o the c h i l d ' s f u t u r e development s h o u l d be w i t h h e l d from a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . The t h i n k -i n g . i m p l i e d i n t a k i n g t h i s p o s i t i o n w i t h p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s must be worked through d y n a m i c a l l y , so t h a t one can be a ssured t h a t the s t a n d taken i s , t h o r o u g h l y i n t e g r a t e d . The a r t i c l e f u r t h e r suggests t h a t these fundamental c o n s i d e r a t i o n s can be put i n t o e f f e c t by mature caseworkers who are c a r r y i n g out i n f a n t a d o p t i o n p r a c t i c e s i f ( l ) The agencies re-examine i s s u e s r e l e v a n t to the p h y s i c a l and emotional h e a l t h of a baby; (2) The r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r e v a l u a t i o n of the c h i l d be d e l e g a t e d t o persons on a d m i n i s t r a t i v e and c o n s u l t a t i v e l e v e l s who do not work d i r e c t l y w i t h the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s ; (3). The worker d e a l i n g - 22 -immediately with the adoptive parents i s given only the knowledge of the baby's potential for good health."'" In contrast to this view, however, i t i s f e l t by most. adoption workers and agencies that some fgets about baby's natural parents, i n addition to the pertinent facts about his present health and development, help prospective parents make a decision about a particular c h i l d and helps them to form a more secure relationship with him. There i s no'set method of giving background, information, but the material which i s shared should be on an individual basis. This i s most easily done i n discussion of the baby himself. Parents are most receptive i n this area and f e e l freer to ask questions. The adoptive parents want and should hear about the baby's progress, his feeding and sleeping habits, his reactions to people as seen by the doctor, hospital nurse or foster-mother. Workers, however, may be too enthusiastic, p a r t i c u l a r l y i f the baby i s healthy and attractive and she i s eager.to have him placed i n his permanent home. Too much enthusiasm on the part of the worker, however, may not leave the parents free to express any co n f l i c t i n g feelings and concern, which they may f e e l when they f i r s t see the c h i l d . Generally speaking, i n giving information about the family background, the worker should begin with what the pros-pective parents want to know, and then give additional information 1. Kohlsaat, Barbara, and Johnson, Adelaide M.,M.D., "Some Suggestions for Practice i n Infant Adoptions",, Social C.as.ework,, ; ; ? « February, 1954* - ' ' ' . - 23 -which w i l l help the adopting parents identify with the c h i l d . Some adoptive parents have well thought out ideas regarding illegitimacy and can understand the d i f f i c u l t i e s involved f o r the natural mother. Other couples need more s p e c i f i c informa-tion as to how the mother arrived at her decision to give up the baby, so they can relate to the natural mother as a person and arrive at a sympathetic understanding of why she made this de-cis i o n . Since i t i s generally understood that most babies available for adoption are born to unmarried mothers, attitudes and feelings towards illegitimacy have usually been discussed with the prospective parents during the home study. In the past, some applicants had real feelings about adopting a baby born to an unmarried mother as they feared the c h i l d would•"inherit his mother's immorality". They preferred to adopt a c h i l d of married parents. These feelings and fears are less prevalent i n pros-pective parents today, although they occasionally come to l i g h t . By contrast, some applicants have mixed feelings about married parents who surrender their c h i l d for adoption and may even wonder whether the c h i l d should be leaving his own parents. It i s necessary then, that these feelings and attitudes be d i s -cussed, as i t i s important for adoptive parents to be s a t i s f i e d and comfortable with the knowledge that their ...child1 s natural parents gave him up for his welfare. This may come up later, i f - 24 -the c h i l d asks q u e s t i o n s r e g a r d i n g h i s n a t u r a l parents., and a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s s h o u l d know t h e i r c h i l d 1 s need t o i d e n t i f y him-s e l f w i t h good n a t u r a l p a r e n t s . I n f o r m a t i o n about f a t h e r s of i n f a n t s p l a c e d f o r adop-t i o n i s o f t e n u n a v a i l a b l e ; sometimes, however, the f a t h e r has been concerned about the w e l f a r e of the mother and has helped her d u r i n g her pregnancy. These f a c t s can be used w i t h some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s t o f u r t h e r t h e i r p o s i t i v e f e e l i n g s towards the c h i l d ' s background. I n f o r m a t i o n r e g a r d i n g n a t i o n a l i t y may be of i n t e r e s t t o some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s and may be another f a c t o r i n h e l p i n g them t o r e l a t e t o the c h i l d , p a r t i c u l a r l y i f t h i s n a t i o n a l i t y i s somewhat comparable to t h e i r own. E d u c a t i o n a l background i s o f t e n of i n t e r e s t t o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s , but i t i s important t o have a c l e a r u n d e r s t a n d i n g of what e d u c a t i o n a l achievement means, to a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . The f a c t t h a t the n a t u r a l p a r e n t s had a l i m i t e d e d u c a t i o n does not n e c e s s a r i l y mean t h a t t h e i r i n t e l l i g e n c e was l i m i t e d . I t may be necessary t o p o i n t out t o some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s the reasons why the p a r e n t s l e f t s c h o o l e a r l y , i f t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n i s known. -•• Often t h e r e were c i r c u m s t a n c e s such as economic need, or l a c k of encouragement from p a r e n t s which made o t h e r a c t i v i t i e s r a t h e r than s c h o o l appear ne c e s s a r y or more i n t e r e s t i n g and.created a d e s i r e to s t o p s c h o o l . E x p l a i n i n g these f a c t o r s t o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s can h e l p them t o understand and not f e e l d i s a p p o i n t e d - 25 -t h a t the c h i l d o f f e r e d to them does not have h i g h e r academic achievement in•his>background. Some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s , themselves, l a c k e d u c a t i o n a l background and i n t e r e s t and can accept t h i s l a c k i n themselves and p o t e n t i a l l y i n t h e i r adopted c h i l d . Many a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s l i k e t o hope the c h i l d o f f e r e d t o them w i l l i n some way resemble them. Many workers f e e l , however, t h a t a d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n of the n a t u r a l p a r e n t s i s not neces-s a r y , as l o n g as t h e r e i s some re a s s u r a n c e t h a t i n g e n e r a l the c h i l d ' s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s were s i m i l a r i n many ways t o the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . T h i s t o o , h e l p s to f u r t h e r the acceptance of the c h i l d ' s background by the p a r e n t s and by the c h i l d . I n d i s c u s s i n g background i n f o r m a t i o n , the a d o p t i o n worker must be a l e r t t o any unspoken a n x i e t i e s about background and a l l o w these a n x i e t i e s to be expressed and m a t e r i a l r e l a t i n g t o them t o be d i s c u s s e d . These a n x i e t i e s may concern areas of d i f f e r e n c e i n the c h i l d ' s background or areas of s i m i l a r i t y t o t r a i t s o r c i rcumstances a parent r e j e c t s i n h i m s e l f . Lack of i n f o r m a t i o n about the baby's f a t h e r sometimes causes a n x i e t y i n some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . T h i s i s u s u a l l y known as these f e e l i n g s are expressed and d i s c u s s e d d u r i n g the home stu d y . I f , then, t h e r e i s no i n f o r m a t i o n about the f a t h e r the worker s h o u l d choose a d o p t i v e - p a r e n t s who can accept t h i s l a c k of i n f o r m a t i o n w i t h o u t undue a n x i e t y , but they s h o u l d be g i v e n the o p p o r t u n i t y to d i s -cuss a g a i n t h e i r f e e l i n g s .about i t . - 26 -V/hen t h e r e i s some f a c t o r i n the c h i l d ' s ' f a m i l y hack-ground t h a t might have an important h e a r i n g on the c h i l d ' s f u t u r e development, the agency s h o u l d have s p e c i f i c i n f o r m a t i o n r e l a t e d t o whatever m e d i c a l , p s y c h o l o g i c a l , p s y c h i a t r i c and n e u r o l o g i c a l c o n s u l t a t i o n i s r e q u i r e d t o determine the h e r e d i t a r y i m p l i c a t i o n f o r the c h i l d ' s f u t u r e development. I f i t i s d e c i d e d a f t e r t h i s c o n s u l t a t i o n t h a t the s o - c a l l e d p a t h o l o g i c a l hack-ground i s not s i g n i f i c a n t w i t h r e g a r d t o the c h i l d ' s f u t u r e , the i n f o r m a t i o n i n q u e s t i o n s h o u l d not he d i s c u s s e d w i t h the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . A d o p t i v e p a r e n t s must.accept the agency's r e s p o n s i -b i l i t y f o r making d e c i s i o n s about the c h i l d ' s p r o b a b l e adopta-b i l i t y . To share i n f o r m a t i o n about pathology and a b n o r m a l i t i e s may g i v e i t undue s i g n i f i c a n c e , a l t h o u g h a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s s h o u l d r e a l i s e t h a t t h e r e are some r i s k s f o r them as t h e r e are f o r any p a r e n t s . Workers r e a l i z e t h e r e i s a c e r t a i n amount of a n x i e t y p r e s e n t i n every p a r e n t - c h i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p , and by d i s c u s s i n g i r r e l e v a n t p a t h o l o g i c a l f a c t o r s they may unduly i n c r e a s e the o t h e r w i s e normal a n x i e t i e s i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p . I n some i n s t a n c e s , the i n f o r m a t i o n about the c h i l d ' s background i s c o n c l u s i v e t h a t t h e r e are c e r t a i n h e r e d i t a r y f a c -t o r s which may i n f l u e n c e the c h i l d ' s development or t h a t of h i s o f f s p r i n g . I n these cases, i t i s n ecessary t o s e l e c t a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s who have shown q u a l i t i e s which l e a d the worker t o be-l i e v e they can accept a c h i l d where t h e r e i s more r i s k i n v o l v e d . - 27 -These adoptive parents must he able to face the uncertainty of the disease developing and must examine their own feelings about being offered a c h i l d with this background, and equally important, re-examine their real feelings about the disease i t s e l f . In other situations when the significance of the patho-l o g i c a l background for the future development of the c h i l d cannot be determined after consultation the ;agency must decide, on an individual basis, what information should be'given to the adop-tive parents, making sure they understand the situation, and what i t means to them. It i s recognised that i n these situations the worker has certain r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . He must evaluate his own feelings about such heredity. If he cannot, sort out these feelings suc-cessfully, he may not be able to.present the material i n a way which supports and encourages the prospective parents and yet leaves them free and comfortable to look at their own feelings regarding the infant being discussed with them. The worker should be prepared to give the: family some s c i e n t i f i c knowledge, i f the family lacks this- knowledge. It i s agreed that the worker has a d i f f i c u l t task i n determining whether a set of parents can or cannot accept a c h i l d with a possible future handicap, without impairing their a b i l i t y to function as parents. It i s interesting to note that the 194-8 Workshop -Adoption, Practices, Procedures and Problems, - revealed that - 28 -80 per cent of the agencies were l o o k i n g f o r the " p e r f e c t " c h i l d w i t h the " p e r f e c t " background f o r a d o p t i v e placement. I n 1951, 60 per cent of the r e p o r t i n g agencies gave as a con-d i t i o n f o r a d o p t i o n t h a t the c h i l d ' s background must be a l -t o g e t h e r h e a l t h y , w h i l e o n l y 40 per cent s p e c i f i e d t h a t the c h i l d must be f r e e of handicap. T h i s c o n t r a s t s w i t h almost 90 per,cent of r e p o r t i n g agencies i n 1954 which do not r u l e out c o n d i t i o n s h e r e t o f o r e c o n s i d e r e d h a n d i c a p p i n g . The 1954 Workshop a l s o s t a t e s t h a t n i n e out of every t e n p a r t i c i p a t i n g agencies s t a t e they do not r u l e out a d o p t i o n f o r a c h i l d i f he i s the product of i n c e s t or i f h i s f a m i l y background i n -c l u d e d any of the f o l l o w i n g c o n d i t i o n s : e p i l e p s y , t u b e r c u -l o s i s , h e a r t d i s e a s e , cancer, d i a b e t e s or v e n e r e a l d i s e a s e . Each c h i l d i s s t u d i e d i n d i v i d u a l l y and h i s a d o p t a b i l i t y or u n a d o p t a b i l i t y i s based upon such f a c t o r s as c u r r e n t f i n d i n g s of the p h y s i c i a n , the g e n e t i c i s t , the p s y c h i a t r i s t and the s o c i a l worker."'' A d o p t i o n agencies and workers have a l a r g e r e s p o n s i -b i l i t y i n h e l p i n g a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s w i t h t h e i r a n x i e t i e s and f e e l i n g s about t e l l i n g the c h i l d he i s adopted. I t i s almost u n i v e r s a l l y r e c o g n i z e d and accepted t h a t the c h i l d s h o u l d be t o l d he i s adopted. E x p e r i e n c e d workers i n the f i e l d of adop-t i o n and c h i l d psychology know t h a t the c h i l d must grow up w i t h the knowledge t h a t he i s adopted i n order to have the f o u n d a t i o n f o r a sound p e r s o n a l i t y . 1. A Study of A d o p t i o n P r a c t i c e , C h i l d Welfare League o f America, A p r i l 1956. - 29 -I n s h a r i n g background i n f o r m a t i o n w i t h a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s , the worker s h o u l d keep i n mind t h a t t h i s d i s c u s s i o n about back-ground serves• another-purpose, t h a t i s , i t s h o u l d ease the way i f and when the c h i l d wishes t o know something about h i s n a t u r a l f a m i -l y , and make t h i s l e s s f r i g h t e n i n g to a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . I t a l s o g i v e s the o p p o r t u n i t y f o r the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s t o d i s c u s s w i t h the worker t h e i r f e e l i n g s about t e l l i n g the c h i l d he i s adopted, ways of h a n d l i n g such q u e s t i o n s as "Why d i d my mother g i v e me up?" and "What was my mother l i k e ? " , and g e n e r a l l y smoothing the way as much as p o s s i b l e . I t s h o u l d a l s o l e a v e the way c l e a r f o r them to come back t o the agency, i f they f e e l they need more h e l p i n order t o d i s c u s s t h i s w i t h t h e i r c h i l d i n a c o m f o r t a b l e mat-ter-o f — f a c t manner. Mrs. L i l a B. C o s t i n s t a t e s i n her a r t i c l e : "Thus the s o c i a l worker c o n d u c t i n g the h i s t o r y - g i v i n g i n t e r v i e w s has b o t h an o p p o r t u n i t y and a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y .to h e l p i n the s i t u a t i o n t h a t may a r i s e y e a r s l a t e r when the c h i l d b r i n g s q u e s t i o n s about h i s background t o h i s a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . T h i s does not i m p l y t h a t we are a b l e t o g i v e adop-t i n g p a r e n t s s p e c i f i c answers t o t h e i r c h i l d ' s f u t u r e ques-t i o n s . . I n our attempts to h e l p a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s w i t h t h i s aspect of a d o p t i o n we are f a c e d w i t h the f a c t t h a t t h e r e i s no l a r g e body of e x p e r i e n c e growing out of s o c i a l work or psychotherapy w i t h a d u l t s who were adopted as c h i l d r e n . . . . . We do .not know t h a t l a r g e numbers of adopted c h i l d r e n have wanted t o know t h e i r n a t u r a l p a r e n t s ' age, appearance, n a t i o n a l i t y , o c c u p a t i o n , or e d u c a t i o n . Perhaps they have wanted t o know q u i t e d i f f e r e n t t h i n g s . Perhaps we have sometimes f a i l e d t o acknowledge t h i s . ; p r o b l e m w i t h a d o p t i n g p a r e n t s , and i n s t e a d have g i v e n them the f e e l i n g t h a t we be-l i e v e t h e r e are ready answers to the q u e s t i o n s t h e i r c h i l d w i l l b r i n g t o them about h i s a d o p t i o n . But even when we cannot g i v e a d o p t i n g p a r e n t s s p e c i f i c guidance i n a n t i c i -p a t i n g t h e i r c h i l d ' s q u e s t i o n s i n f u t u r e y e a r s , we can h e l p i n l a y i n g the groundwork f o r t h i s p a r t of the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t - c h i l d relationship'.'"'" 1. C o s t i n , L i l a B., "The H i s t o r y - g i v i n g I n t e r v i e w i n A d o p t i o n Procedures", S o c i a l Casework, November 1954. CHAPTER III TELLING THE CHILD HE IS ADOPTED. Most people who adopt c h i l d r e n today f e e l i t i s a na t u r a l , and s a t i s f a c t o r y way to have a f a m i l y when i t i s not p o s s i b l e f o r one reason or another t o have t h e i r own c h i l d r e n . A d o p t i o n i s accepted by these p a r e n t s and most o f t e n i t i s a f a c t which i s pushed i n t o the back of t h e i r minds as they come to l o v e the c h i l d as deeply as they c o u l d have l o v e d a c h i l d b o r n t o them. Adoptive p a r e n t s , however, are concerned t h a t the c h i l d f e e l about them as they do about him, and thus have wor-r i e s about t e l l i n g him he i s adopted. I n the past p a r e n t s had an i n i t i a l s t r u g g l e as t o whether t o t e l l the c h i l d he was adop-t e d or not. F o r t u n a t e l y t h e r e has been a change i n r e c e n t y e a r s , and the s t r u g g l e today i s not whether t o t e l l him or not, but "when and how". Ex p e r i e n c e and knowledge have proven t h a t t h e r e i s n ' t any ot h e r way t o b u i l d a s t r o n g , s t a b l e a d o p t i v e f a m i l y t h a n t o g i v e the adopted c h i l d t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n which belongs to him."'' I n a d d i t i o n t o the s t a b i l i t y of the f a m i l y which i s b u i l t on acceptance by a l l members of the adoptive, r e l a t i o n s h i p , 1. Gordon, H e n r i e t t a L.,. Casework S e r v i c e s f o r C h i l d r e n ; - ' P r i n c i p l e s and P r a c t i c e , Houghton M i f f l i n Company, Boston, 1956. t h e r e i s the enormous peace of mind t h a t comes from b e i n g a b l e t o behave n a t u r a l l y i n o c c a s i o n a l s i t u a t i o n s where the a d o p t i o n must be brought t o the a t t e n t i o n of others.''" I n s p i t e of the f a c t t h a t p a r e n t s know they w i l l be f a c e d w i t h the t a s k of t e l l i n g t h e i r c h i l d , they do have f e e l i n g s o f a n x i e t y and t e n s i o n r e g a r d i n g i t . Perhaps i t goes back t o the f a c t t h a t they may not f e e l q u i t e as adequate as n a t u r a l p a r e n t s , because the c h i l d i s not b i o l o g i c a l l y t h e i r own. There may s t i l l be f e e l i n g s around a c c e p t i n g t h e i r i n f e r t i l i t y , and they may be i n v o l v e d i n p r e t e n d i n g they are f e r t i l e . These are emotions which o v e r - r i d e common-sense and reason. The b a r r i e r s t h e y s e t up make a d o p t i n g p a r e n t s wonder.if they are s u f f i c i e n t l y c o n f i d e n t when f a c e d w i t h t a l k i n g t o t h e i r c h i l d about b e i n g adopted. They may f e a r the c h i l d w i l l r e j e c t them. A d d i t i o n a l f e a r s are added be-cause par e n t s r e a l i z e t h a t i t i s important t o the f u t u r e w e l l -b e i n g of t h e i r c h i l d t h a t t h i s a r e a be handled w i s e l y and w e l l . Methods i n the placement of c h i l d r e n have changed and e v o l v e d w i t h the growth of s o c i a l casework. D e s p i t e v a r i o u s changes i n procedure, and even i n the e v a l u a t i o n of a d o p t i v e f a m i l i e s , t h e r e has been among r e p u t a b l e s o c i a l agencies one r e -quirement made of a l l p r o s p e c t i v e p a r e n t s , namely, t h a t the c h i l d be t o l d of h i s a d o p t i o n . T h e r e f o r e , i n p l a n n i n g t h i s p r o j e c t i t was d e c i d e d t o d i s c u s s w i t h the s e l e c t e d group of a d o p t i v e f a m i l i e s 1. Raymond, L o u i s e , A d o p t i o n and A f t e r , Harper and B r o t h e r s , New York, 1955-- 32 -the i r feelings towards the c h i l d i n the f i r s t months, when and how they brought up the subject of adoption, how they gave this information, whether the c h i l d asked questions about his natural parents, and whether they f e l t they gave an explanation which was sat i s f y i n g to the c h i l d . In addition the adoptive parents were asked i f they had f e l t they needed more help from the agency and whether they would have been interested i n group meetings with other adoptive parents and an agency adoption worker, either before or after placement. The adoptive parents were families i n which the legal adoption had been completed between f i v e and nine years ago. They had been given pertinent facts regarding th e i r child's back-ground. The study consisted of interviews with one or both adop-tive parents. I l l u s t r a t i v e Cases (l) The McLeans are both i n their late t h i r t i e s ; both had high school education and Mr. McLean operates his .own business. They l i v e i n a good residential d i s t r i c t and their home standards are i n keeping with those of the neighborhood. The home study re-vealed that there were no physical reasons for the McLean's c h i l d -lessness, and they applied to adopt because they wanted a family. The marriage appeared sound ahd secure and they impressed the worker as a happily married couple. - 33 -B i l l y , now age 9i> was placed with the McLeans when he was 3lr months old. Mrs. McLean said they would have liked to have had him di r e c t l y from hospital, as they f e e l they missed something i n his early weeks. However, they f e e l that B i l l y i s as much a part of their family as i f he had been horn to them, and as much accepted by their r e l a t i v e s . When B i l l y was 3, another baby was placed with them, and Mrs. McLean used this event to bring up the subject of adop-tion with B i l l y . She gave him a simple explanation about not be-ing able to have babies of their own, so they had asked the agency to f i n d one for them. Because they had been so happy with him they had asked the agency to fi n d them another l i t t l e baby. Mrs. McLean said B i l l y didn't ask any particular questions, but was interested i n a l l the equipment the baby needed, and wondered i f they had obtained the same things for him. Following this the McLeans began reading him stories about adopted children, substi-tuting their names for the ones used i n the stories. Mrs. McLean said they have always used the words "adoption" and "adopted". Recently B i l l y asked a particular question about how babies got out of their mummy's tummies and Mrs. McLean answered him i n simple terms and followed this by t e l l i n g him that he didn't grow i n her tummy, but i n another mummy's tummy, but since this mummy had not been able to look after him, but had wanted to make sure that he would have a mummy and daddy, she gave him to - 34 -them. B i l l y seemed to accept t h i s e x p l a n a t i o n and has not asked any f u r t h e r q u e s t i o n s . Mrs. McLean assumes t h i s e x p l a n a t i o n has been s a t i s f a c t o r y t o B i l l y t o date, and she f e l t c o m f o r t a b l e when t e l l i n g him. Mrs. McLean s a i d , however, t h a t she and her husband would have l i k e d t o have known more about how o t h e r a d o p t i v e parents d i s c u s s e d t h i s s u b j e c t w i t h t h e i r c h i l d r e n . They b o t h f e e l group meetings would have been h e l p f u l t o them, and would have l i k e d t o be a member of a group j u s t b e f o r e they i n t r o d u c e d the s u b j e c t of a d o p t i o n t o t h e i r c h i l d . Mrs. McLean had wondered about c o n t a c t i n g the agency againk but f e l t the workers were busy, and perhaps would f e e l they s h o u l d be a b l e t o handle t h i s q u e s t i o n themselves. . Mrs. McLean r e a l i z e s t h a t they s t i l l have another a r e a to cover, as she expects B i l l y w i l l ask some d e f i n i t e q u e s t i o n s about h i s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s . At present they have some a n x i e t y about t h i s , but hope when the time comes, they w i l l be a b l e t o answer h i s q u e s t i o n s c o m f o r t a b l y and l e a v e him w i t h the f e e l i n g t h a t h i s p a r e n t s d i d what they thought was b e s t f o r him. Mrs. McLean s a i d she f e e l s t h a t B i l l y ' s p a r e n t s must have been h e a l t h y , i n t e l l i g e n t people t o have produced such a f i n e c h i l d . B i l l y i s a handsome, well-bui'jj.t boy, w i t h brown h a i r and b l u e eyes. He i s i n grade f o u r and d o i n g above-average work i n s c h o o l . He i s f r i e n d l y and o u t g o i n g w i t h many f r i e n d s and - 35 -p a r t i c i p a t e s w i t h en thus iasm i n community and s c h o o l a c t i v i t i e s . M r s . McLean remarked t h a t many peop le i n c l u d i n g some o f t h e i r r e l a t i v e s t h i n k t h a t B i l l y resembles M r . McLean and t h i s p l e a s e s b o t h M r . McLean and B i l l y . I t seems q u i t e e v i d e n t t h a t B i l l y i s an i m p o r t a n t p a r t o f t h i s f a m i l y and accep t s h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s as a member o f the g roup . (2) The Ba rbou r s a re b o t h i n t h e i r e a r l y f o r t i e s . M r . B a r b o u r i s a p r o f e s s i o n a l man, d o i n g w e l l i n h i s chosen p r o f e s -s i o n . The home s t anda rds a re h i g h , and the home i s s i t u a t e d i n a good r e s i d e n t i a l d i s t r i c t . No p h y s i c a l r e a s o n was ever d e t e c t e d f o r the B a r b o u r ' s apparent s t e r i l i t y , so a f t e r t e n y e a r s o f mar-r i a g e they a p p l i e d t o adop t . A c c o r d i n g to the case r e c o r d the worke r was impres sed by the apparent q u a l i t y o f t h e i r mar r i age and t h e i r s i n c e r e d e s i r e f o r a c h i l d . Jimmy, age 8, was p l a c e d w i t h the B a r b o u r s d i r e c t l y f rom h o s p i t a l a t the age o f t e n d a y s . They b o t h agreed t h a t t h i s i s the b e s t t ime f o r p lacement , as they d i d not miss any o f the b a b y ' s e a r l y development , and they a l s o f e e l t h a t the i n f a n t bene -f i t s by b e i n g p l a c e d i n h i s permanent home as e a r l y as p o s s i b l e . M r s . Ba rbou r f e e l s t h a t the e a r l y p lacement h e l p e d her t o f e e l more l i k e a n a t u r a l mother , a l t h o u g h she q u a l i f i e d t h i s by s a y -i n g she has no way o f compar ing her f e e l i n g s w i t h those o f a n a t u r a l mother . M r s . Ba rbou r s a i d she began t e l l i n g Jimmy about h i s - 36 -a d o p t i o n by s t o r i e s o f how they went t o the h o s p i t a l t o see him, and how a t t r a c t e d they were t o him. She t o l d him about shopping f o r b l a n k e t s and c l o t h i n g and what they took t o the h o s p i t a l t o b r i n g him home. They have woven these d e t a i l s i n t o a s t o r y and have i n t r o d u c e d the f a c t t h a t he was not born t o her, but t o another mummy. To date Jimmy has not asked any q u e s t i o n s about h i s n a t u r a l mother, and Mrs. Barbour wonders i f he t h i n k s a l l b a b i e s are born t o o t h e r mummies and then p l a c e d f o r a d o p t i o n . T h i s may be r e - e n f o r c e d by the f a c t t h a t t h e r e are s e v e r a l adop-t e d c h i l d r e n i n t h e i r immediate neighborhood. Mrs. Barbour s a i d she wanted Jimmy t o know of h i s a d o p t i o n as young as p o s s i b l e or as soon as he c o u l d understand the s i m p l e s t f a c t s . She was emphatic about t h i s as w i t h i n her own f a m i l y group an adopted c h i l d d i s c o v e r e d the f a c t she was adopted when she was 18, and i t was an unhappy and d i s t r e s s i n g e x p e r i e n c e f o r her, an e x p e r i e n c e t h a t Mrs. Barbour f e l t c o u l d and s h o u l d have been avoided. Mrs. Barbour s a i d Jimmy has asked a few q u e s t i o n s about "where b a b i e s come from" and she answered t h e s e s i m p l y and d i r e c t l y , b r i n g i n g i n t h a t he was not b o r n t o her. Mrs. Barbour s a i d she had r e a d as much as she c o u l d on the s u b j e c t of adop-t i o n and f e e l s t h i s was h e l p f u l t o her i n t a l k i n g w i t h Jimmy. She t h i n k s t h a t when the time comes and Jimmy asks d i r e c t ques-t i o n s about h i s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s they w i l l t e l l him as much as they can and i f necessary o b t a i n more i n f o r m a t i o n from the agency, as she f e e l s i t would upset a c h i l d t o answer h i s q u e s t i o n w i t h " I don't know". Mrs. Barbour thought group meetings would be h e l p f u l , p r o b a b l y a f t e r placement but b e f o r e the time to b e g i n to t e l l the c h i l d . She expressed her a p p r e c i a t i o n f o r the a d o p t i o n worker's h e l p , as she brought up some f a c t s t h a t would not have o c c u r r e d t o Mrs. Barbour. Mrs. Barbour b e l i e v e s t h a t a l l adop-t i v e p a r e n t s s h o u l d a n t i c i p a t e the f a c t t h a t the c h i l d w i l l ask some q u e s t i o n s about h i s a d o p t i o n , and g i v e t h i s some thought so t h a t they w i l l not be caught t o t a l l y unprepared when the q u e s t i o n s come. Jimmy i s a q u i e t , t h o u g h t f u l boy w i t h a somewhat tense anxious manner. He i s i n grade two at s c h o o l , but not d o i n g as w e l l as h i s a b i l i t y would i n d i c a t e he can. Mrs. Barbour s a i d t h a t Jimmy seems to worry about s c h o o l and she f e e l s h i s ex-p e r i e n c e s at s c h o o l are not happy, a l t h o u g h Jimmy does not t a l k about them. T h i s w o r r i e s Mrs. Barbour, and seems t o make her o v e r - p r o t e c t i v e o f the boy. However, she expressed some concern because Jimmy p r e f e r s q u i e t a c t i v i t i e s i n the house t o the more v i g o r o u s outdoor p l a y w i t h boys h i s own age. She seems t o want Jimmy t o be more l i k e boys h i s own age, y e t p r o t e c t s him. (3) The Johnsons are b o t h i n t h e i r e a r l y f o r t i e s , b o t h have p r o f e s s i o n a l t r a i n i n g , and Mr. Johnson i s engaged i n h i s - 38 -p r o f e s s i o n . Mrs. Johnson c a r r i e d on w i t h her p r o f e s s i o n a f t e r marriage s i n c e she enjoyed her work, hut she s t a t e d she had a l -ways been ready to stop work when she became pregnant. A f t e r t e n y e a r s of marriage and t h e r e had not been a pregnancy, b o t h Mr. and Mrs. Johnson went through e x t e n s i v e t e s t s , but no p h y s i -c a l reason c o u l d be found f o r t h e i r apparent s t e r i l i t y . They a p p l i e d to adopt as they b o t h s t a t e d they had always wanted a f a m i l y . They were a b l e to speak of t h e i r disappointment at not h a v i n g a n a t u r a l c h i l d , and t h e i r d e c i s i o n t o adopt was based on s i n c e r e , mature t h i n k i n g . Nancy, now age s i x , was p l a c e d w i t h the Johnsons at the age of t e n days, and b o t h Mr. and Mrs. Johnson agreed t h a t t h i s i s the i d e a l time f o r placement, as they f e l t they d i d not miss many of the j o y s and upsets accorded n a t u r a l p a r e n t s i n the f i r s t weeks.- When Nancy was about t h r e e , Mrs. Johnson i n t r o d u c e d the s u b j e c t of a d o p t i o n . She t o l d the c h i l d they had not been a b l e to have a l i t t l e baby of t h e i r own, so they had gone to the h o s p i -t a l and s p e c i a l l y p i c k e d her out from a number of b a b i e s . When-ever they d r i v e past the h o s p i t a l Mrs. Johnson p o i n t s out the b u i l d i n g t e l l i n g Nancy t h a t i t was i n t h a t b u i l d i n g t h a t they f i r s t saw her and s p e c i a l l y p i c k e d her from a l l the o t h e r b a b i e s . R e c e n t l y Nancy asked her mother why they s p e c i a l l y chose her, and Mrs. Johnson t o l d her t h a t they f e l t t h a t she l o o k e d l i k e the l i t t l e baby they had hoped God would send to them. Mrs. Johnson s a i d they have read s t o r i e s about adopted c h i l d r e n t o Nancy so - 39 -she w i l l l e a r n t h a t many c h i l d r e n are adopted. To date Nancy has not asked "where b a b i e s come from", so Mrs. Johnson has not i n t r o d u c e d the " o t h e r mummy". The Johnsons have always used the words "adopted" and " a d o p t i o n " , and Mrs. Johnson b e l i e v e s t h a t i n Nancy's mind these words are connected w i t h good t h i n g s t h a t happen t o c h i l d r e n . Mrs. Johnson b e l i e v e s the e x p l a n a t i o n so f a r i s q u i t e s a t i s f a c t o r y t o Nancy, but she expressed some a n x i e t y about t e l l i n g the c h i l d about her o t h e r p a r e n t s . The Johnsons don't f e e l they w i l l be as r e l a x e d and c o m f o r t a b l e , and were a b l e t o say t h a t they hoped Nancy would not ask any f u r t h e r q u e s t i o n s , on the ot h e r hand r e a l i z i n g t h a t she pr o b a b l y w i l l , and they must prepare themselves f o r them. Mrs. Johnson was not e n t h u s i a s t i c about group meetings, she thought they might be h e l p f u l f o r d i s c u s s i o n of g e n e r a l t h i n g s i n r e l a t i o n to' a d o p t i o n , but t h a t a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s have t o use an i n d i v i d u a l approach f o r t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r c h i l d . Nancy i s an a t t r a c t i v e c h i l d w i t h dark brown c u r l y h a i r and w i d e - s e t , t h o u g h t f u l grey eyes. She i s q u i e t , almost solemn i n manner, and appears t o be l i s t e n i n g and wa t c h i n g a t t e n t i v e l y t o a l l t h a t goes on around her. Mrs. Johnson says she has an en-q u i r i n g mind and l e a r n s q u i c k l y . She gets a l o n g w e l l w i t h the ot h e r c h i l d r e n i n the neighborhood, but i s g e n t l e and q u i e t i n her p l a y . Mrs. Johnson s a i d t h a t Nancy i s much l i k e Mr. Johnson i n temperament and f i t s i n t o t h e i r f a m i l y " j u s t as i f she had been b o r n t o them". - 40 -(4) The Andersons are a couple i n t h e i r m i d - f o r t i e s , i n good f i n a n c i a l c i r c u m s t a n c e s . Mr. Anderson i s employed by a l a r g e i n d u s t r i a l f i r m , and has a b e t t e r than average income. They l i v e i n a good r e s i d e n t i a l d i s t r i c t and t h e i r home i s p l e a s a n t and c o m f o r t a b l e . One f e e l s the i n t e r e s t s and a c t i v i t i e s of the c h i l d r e n are of pr i m a r y importance. Mrs. Anderson was p r e v i o u s l y m a r r i e d , and her f i r s t husband d i e d suddenly f o l l o w i n g a b r i e f i l l n e s s . He l e f t Mrs. Anderson f i n a n c i a l l y independent. There were no c h i l d r e n by t h i s u n i o n . About t h r e e y e a r s a f t e r her f i r s t husband's death, Mrs. Anderson m a r r i e d Mr. Anderson, and t h i s appears to be a m u t u a l l y s a t i s f y i n g marriage. Gordon, age 9i"j "the o l d e s t of t h r e e adopted c h i l d r e n , was p l a c e d w i t h the Andersons at the age of f o u r weeks. Mrs. Anderson was s a t i s f i e d w i t h t h i s age f o r placement, as they c o u l d be a l i t t l e more sure t h a t the baby was p h y s i c a l l y normal. I n t a l k i n g w i t h the Andersons about t h e i r c h i l d r e n ' s a d o p t i o n , Mrs. Anderson admitted t h a t she and her husband would l i k e to f o r g e t t h a t the c h i l d r e n are adopted as she i s sure they f e e l the same about these c h i l d r e n as n a t u r a l p a r e n t s f e e l about t h e i r c h i l d r e n . However, they b o t h r e a l i z e the c h i l d r e n c o u l d hear about t h e i r a d o p t i o n o u t s i d e the home, and because o f t h i s t hey p l a n t o t e l l each c h i l d as soon as they f e e l t h a t he i s o l d enough t o understand. - 41 -Consequently when Gordon was nine, his father took him aside and to l d him he was horn to another mummy, hut this other mummy and daddy died when he was horn, so he came to l i v e with them, because they had always wanted a l i t t l e boy for their own. Mr. Anderson added that they had taken Douglas and Linda the same way. (Douglas and Linda are the younger adopted c h i l d -ren.) Mr. Anderson told Gordon not to t e l l the other children, as they weren't old enough to understand. Gordon was quiet during the discussion, and didn't ask any questions. However, a few days la t e r he asked Mrs. Anderson i f she had known his other mummy, and what did she look l i k e . Mrs. Anderson replied that she had never seen his other mummy, and didn't know anything about her. Gordon then replied that he was sure he would have loved his other mummy, but not as much as he loved Mrs. Anderson. Prom this statement Mrs. Anderson was s a t i s f i e d that Gordon was content with the i n -formation they had given him. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Anderson are concerned about future questions as they f e e l i f the children are happy and secure they w i l l not concern themselves with facts that have no meaning for them. Mrs. Anderson did not think group meetings would be of much value, as she f e l t that ways of t e l l i n g a ch i l d he was adopted was an individual matter for adopting parents to work out for themselves. Mrs. Anderson thinks i f the children have enough security and affection i n their adoptive home, they w i l l not be interested i n their natural parents. I f perchance their children - 42 -should' ask any q u e s t i o n s they w i l l s t i c k t o t h e i r o r i g i n a l s t o r y , t h a t the pa r e n t s are dead and t h e r e i s no i n f o r m a t i o n a v a i l a b l e about them. Gordon i s a t a l l , g o o d - l o o k i n g boy, p o l i t e and f r i e n d l y i n manner. He i s t a k i n g piano l e s s o n s and performs f o r v i s i t o r s at h i s mother's r e q u e s t . He i s w e l l l i k e d by h i s t e a c h e r s and playmates and enters i n t o a l l s c h o o l and neighborhood a c t i v i t i e s . Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are proud of Gordon and f e e l t h a t he i s a c r e d i t t o them. (5) The F o s t e r s are b o t h f o r t y y e a r s of age, and b o t h have h i g h - s c h o o l e d u c a t i o n . Mr. F o s t e r operates h i s own b u s i n e s s , which i s expanding s t e a d i l y . They l i v e i n a p l e a s a n t , a t t r a c t i v e home and can be d e s c r i b e d as a happy couple who t h o r o u g h l y enjoy t h e i r c h i l d r e n . Mr. and Mrs. F o s t e r were m a r r i e d seven y e a r s b e f o r e they a p p l i e d t o adopt. P r e v i o u s l y they had gone through e x t e n s i v e t e s t s , but no reason c o u l d be found f o r t h e i r apparent s t e r i l i t y . When they had m a r r i e d they had hoped t o have s e v e r a l c h i l d r e n , so t h e i r apparent s t e r i l i t y was a g r e a t disappointment t o themv However, t h e i r d o c t o r t a l k e d w i t h them about a d o p t i o n , and s i n c e c h i l d r e n were important t o them they a p p l i e d t o adopt. G e r a l d , now age s i x , was p l a c e d w i t h the F o s t e r s at the age of one month. When he was 2-g- a second c h i l d was p l a c e d w i t h the F o s t e r s d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l . Mrs. F o s t e r s a i d they were s o r r y they had not been a b l e t o ta k e G e r a l d d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l as they had enjoyed the second baby's f i r s t weeks so much. The F o s t e r s took the o p p o r t u n i t y to b r i n g up the s u b j e c t of a d o p t i o n t o G e r a l d when the second c h i l d was p l a c e d . G e r a l d went t o the h o s p i t a l w i t h them t o b r i n g the baby home, and they e x p l a i n e d t o him t h a t they had brought him home the same way. T h i s a p p a r e n t l y was a p l e a s a n t e x p e r i e n c e f o r G e r a l d as he s t i l l t a l k s about i t and t e l l s Pamela (th e younger c h i l d ) how he went t o the h o s p i t a l w i t h mother and dad t o b r i n g her home. F o l l o w i n g t h i s Mr. and Mrs. F o s t e r s t a r t e d r e a d i n g s t o r i e s about o t h e r c h i l d r e n t o G e r a l d and these have become h i s f a v o r i t e s t o r i e s . G e r a l d has not asked any p a r t i c u l a r q u e s t i o n s , a p p a r e n t l y assuming t h i s i s the way a l l b a b i e s get homes. However, Mrs. F o s t e r i s now e x p e c t i n g a baby of her own and they b o t h f e e l t h i s w i l l g i v e them an i d e a l oppor-t u n i t y t o e x p l a i n to b o t h the c h i l d r e n t h a t some b a b i e s are born t o t h e i r p a r e n t s , and o t h e r b a b i e s are born t o o t h e r mummies and daddies and then p l a c e d w i t h mummies and daddies who do not have any b a b i e s of t h e i r own. Mr. F o s t e r f e e l s adopted c h i l d r e n s h o u l d be t o l d some-t h i n g of t h e i r a d o p t i o n as soon as they can understand the s i m p l e s t words. He b e l i e v e s t h a t the words " a d o p t i o n " and "adopted" s h o u l d be used, so t h a t the c h i l d can a s s o c i a t e them w i t h p l e a s a n t f e e l -i n g s . Mr. F o s t e r t h i n k s a d o p t i v e parents have an o b l i g a t i o n t o be honest w i t h t h e i r c h i l d r e n and s h o u l d not f a b r i c a t e s t o r i e s t o make the t e l l i n g of a d o p t i o n e a s i e r f o r the c h i l d r e n or f o r the p a r e n t s . The F o s t e r s have asked the agency f o r a t y p e w r i t t e n copy - 44 -of the background i n f o r m a t i o n which was d i s c u s s e d w i t h them at the time of placement so they w i l l he a b l e t o answer any q u e s t i o n s c o r r e c t l y the c h i l d r e n might ask. Mr. P o s t e r f e e l s t h a t b o t h the c h i l d r e n can be proud of t h e i r h e r i t a g e , so t h e r e i s no r e a -son f o r not t e l l i n g them what they may want to know, but they w i l l g i v e the i n f o r m a t i o n o n l y i f e i t h e r c h i l d expresses a d e s i r e t o know something about h i s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s . Mr. and Mrs. F o s t e r thought group meetings would be h e l p f u l t o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y j u s t b e f o r e t h e s u b j e c t of a d o p t i o n i s i n t r o d u c e d t o the c h i l d . They f e l t d i s c u s s i n g the s i t u a t i o n w i t h o t h e r a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s would have g i v e n them sup-p o r t and courage w i t h a d i f f i c u l t problem which they admitted had g i v e n them many moments of a n x i e t y . Mr. F o s t e r f e l t t h a t i t was of the utmost importance t o handle t h i s s u b j e c t s k i l l f u l l y t o f o s t e r the c h i l d ' s c o n f i d e n c e i n h i s p a r e n t s , and the p a r e n t s ' c o n f i d e n c e i n the c h i l d . The F o s t e r s expressed t h e i r a p p r e c i a t i o n f o r t h e i r a d o p t i o n worker, as she had d i s c u s s e d many p o i n t s w i t h them and had encouraged them t o i n t r o d u c e " a d o p t i o n " t o G e r a l d when the second baby was p l a c e d . G e r a l d i s a w e l l - b u i l t , h e a l t h y , o u t - g o i n g boy w i t h blonde h a i r and b l u e eyes. He gets a l o n g w e l l w i t h the c h i l d r e n and a d u l t s i n the neighborhood. He i s adventuresome and l i k e s t o know what, i s .going on. Mr. F o s t e r d e s c r i b e s him as a " r e a l boy", - 45 -f u l l of fun yet kind and considerate of his companions, It i s quite apparent that .Gerald has a secure place i n the Foster family and i s a favorite among the relatives. (6) The Ames are 44 and 39 respectively; they both have high-school education and Mr. Ames holds a responsible position i n a large industrial firm. He enjoys his work and has advanced rapidly i n the firm. They maintain a comfortable home where the standards are high. After. Mr. and Mrs. Ames had been married about f i v e years and there had not been a pregnancy, they both underwent extensive tests and learned that Mr. Ames was s t e r i l e . In view of this unhappy circumstance their doctor suggested that they consider a r t i f i c i a l insemination, and after due consideration they decided to follow his suggestion. As there were no f a c i l i t i e s for this treatment here, the Ames went to New York, but much to Mrs. Ames1 disappointment this treatment was not successful. Ac-cordingly upon their return to this c i t y , they applied to the agency to- adopt an infant and i n due course a baby, Betty, age one month, was placed with them. Betty i s now 10 years old and Mrs. Ames said they were delighted with her from the day of place-ment, that she was such a beautiful baby and had thrived so well that they had enjoyed every minute with her. When Betty was 2-g- another baby was placed with the Ames and Betty helped her mother get a l l the clothes and equipment ready for the new baby, and Mrs. Ames mentioned that they were - 46 -adopting this baby as they had adopted her. They took Betty along when they picked up the new baby and told her that they had brought her to their home the same way. Mrs. Ames followed this beginning by t e l l i n g Betty that since they had been unable.to have a baby of their own, they had applied to the agency for a baby, whose mother could not look after her, because this mother could not give the baby the kind of home she thought the'baby should have. These facts have been repeated to the other adopted child, so Betty has heard this story many times. Recently Betty has asked her mother why some mothers have to give up their babies, was i t only because they could not look after them? Mrs. Ames replied that sometimes these mothers have to work and there i s no one to care for the baby properly. She i s not sure that this answer s a t i s f i e d Betty, hut so far Betty has not asked any questions about her own mother, although Mrs. Ames has t r i e d to give her the opportunity. Betty was born to a married couple, who were separated at the time of Betty's b i r t h , and Mrs. Ames admitted to having mixed feelings about this at the time of placement. She didn't admit to these feelings to the adoption worker, because Mrs. Ames said at that time a baby was the most important thing to her. She doesn't blame the agency either, but realises now that she should have made her doubts known. These feelings are being re-activated now, as Mrs. Ames thinks that Betty w i l l be wanting to know something about her natural parents any time. Mrs. Ames - 47 -plans to t e l l B e t t y the t r u t h , as she b e l i e v e s t h a t the c h i l d i s e n t i t l e d to know as much as she wants. Mrs. Ames s a i d the second c h i l d was born t o an un-marr i e d mother, and she f e e l s more co m f o r t a b l e w i t h these f a c t s . Mrs. Ames s a i d she prob a b l y would not have been i n f a v o u r of group meetings t o d i s c u s s a d o p t i o n b e f o r e the baby was p l a c e d , or even j u s t b e f o r e she i n t r o d u c e d the s u b j e c t of a d o p t i o n t o B e t t y . She b e l i e v e s t h a t a d o p t i n g parents do not r e a l i z e the a n x i e t y t h a t w i l l a r i s e when they t h i n k more s e r i o u s l y about t e l l i n g t h e i r c h i l d he i s adopted, more e s p e c i a l l y when they f e e l they are g o i n g to be f a c e d w i t h e x p l a i n i n g why t h e i r parents gave them away. I n s p i t e of t h i s , Mrs. Ames b e l i e v e s t h a t i t i s every adopted c h i l d ' s r i g h t t o know t h a t he i s adopted, and t h a t adopt-i n g parents s h o u l d b e g i n t o t e l l the s t o r y as soon as the c h i l d can understand the s i m p l e s t f a c t s . She b e l i e v e s t h i s f i r s t s t e p was made e a s i e r f o r them because they adopted a second c h i l d , and used t h i s as an o p p o r t u n i t y t o i n t r o d u c e the s u b j e c t . B e t t y i s a b r i g h t , a t t r a c t i v e g i r l , i n c l i n e d to be plump i n b u i l d . She i s i n grade f i v e at s c h o o l and her grades are b e t t e r t han average. Mrs. Ames d e s c r i b e s her.as a "bookworm" and would l i k e t o see her p a r t i c i p a t e . i n more s c h o o l a c t i v i t i e s because she f e e l s t h a t B e t t y needs the companionship of g i r l s her own age. B e t t y , on the ot h e r hand, l i k e s domestic a c t i v i t i e s and i s most h e l p f u l to her mother around the house. Both Mr. and Mrs. - 48 -Ames f e e l t h a t B e t t y has l o t s of a b i l i t y and encourage her t o m a i n t a i n her grades. Mrs. Ames s a i d B e t t y has f u l f i l l e d her e x p e c t a t i o n s as a daughter and t h e r e i s a c l o s e bond between them. (7) The Stewarts are bot h 40 y e a r s of age, bot h have p u b l i c s c h o o l e d u c a t i o n , and Mr. Stewart i s employed as a s a l e s -man, work which he enjoys. The Stewarts' income i s adequate and t h e i r home i s co m f o r t a b l e w i t h good s t a n d a r d s . Mr. and Mrs. Stewart were ma r r i e d when they were i n t h e i r e a r l y t w e n t i e s , and hoped to have t h e i r f a m i l y w h i l e they were youngg. However, Mr. Stewart j o i n e d the army s h o r t l y a f t e r t h e i r marriage and spent t h r e e y e a r s overseas. On h i s d i s c h a r g e from the army a f t e r the war, he r e t u r n e d to h i s former employment, and they r e - e s t a b l i s h e d t h e i r home. Subsequently Mrs. Stewart had th r e e m i s c a r r i a g e s and f o l l o w i n g the l a s t one, her d o c t o r t o l d her t h a t i t was un-l i k e l y t h a t she would ever be a b l e t o c a r r y a pregnancy f u l l term. T h i s was a major disappointment t o the Stewarts and i t was dome time b e f o r e they a p p l i e d to adopt. However, t h e i r d e c i s i o n t o apply t o adopt was based on t h e i r d e s i r e t o have a c h i l d , and they impressed t h e i r a d o p t i o n worker as a s i n c e r e and mature young couple, r e a l l y i n t e r e s t e d i n a baby. Freddy, now age 8 , was p l a c e d w i t h Mr. and Mrs. Stewart when he was f o u r months. Mrs. Stewart p a r t i c u l a r l y expressed the f a c t , t h a t they would have l i k e d t o have been a b l e t o take him e a r l i e r , as she f e e l s they missed an important p a r t of h i s development i n the f i r s t months. When Freddy was about 3g-> Mr-. Stewart's b r o t h e r and h i s w i f e adopted a baby g i r l . The f a m i l i e s were c l o s e and Mrs. Stewart took t h i s o p p o r t u n i t y t o t e l l Freddy t h a t h i s u n c l e and aunt were a d o p t i n g a baby, as they had adopted him. She f o l -lowed t h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n by weaving i n t o a s t o r y how much they had wanted a l i t t l e baby o f t h e i r own, and when they l e a r n e d t h a t they c o u l d not have one, they had asked the agency ,to h e l p them f i n d one. She t o l d him about a l l the p r e p a r a t i o n s they had made b e f o r e t a k i n g him and showed him snapshots of h i m s e l f when he f i r s t came t o l i v e w i t h them. Mrs. Stewart s a i d t h a t Freddy l o v e d t h e . s t o r y when he was younger and she repeated i t many ti m e s . He doesn't ask f o r the s t o r y any more, but she i s q u i t e sure t h a t he remembers i t v e r y w e l l . Freddy has not y e t asked any p a r t i c u l a r q u e s t i o n s and t h e r e f o r e Mrs. Stewart has not g i v e n him any more i n f o r m a t i o n . Mrs. Stewart s a i d t h a t i f he wants t o know more when he i s o l d e r she plans t o answer h i s q u e s t i o n s as t r u t h f u l l y as she can. She doesn't remember many d e t a i l s about h i s background, so t h i n k s she w i l l j u s t t e l l him t h a t they d i d n ' t know h i s r e a l p a r e n t s , but she b e l i e v e s t h a t they were pro b a b l y much l i k e Mr. Stewart and h e r s e l f . Mrs. Stewart s a i d she had re a d as much as she c o u l d on the s u b j e c t of t e l l i n g c h i l d r e n about t h e i r a d o p t i o n , and b e l i e v e s t h i s type of answer i s sound and i t i s a l s o t r u t h f u l . Mrs. Stewart admitted t h a t i f she t h i n k s too much about how she w i l l handle these questions i f they are asked, she becomes quite anxious, but believes that a l l adoptive parents must have similar feelings and anxieties. When asked about group meetings with other adoptive parents, Mrs. Stewart said she believed they would be most useful and helpful particularly to learn how other adoptive parents plan to t e l l their children about their natural parents and why they gave them up. Mrs. Stewart said she f e l t quite comfortable i n t e l l i n g Freddy the story of how he came to be their l i t t l e boy, but believes the most d i f f i c u l t part to be told i s s t i l l ahead of them. Mrs. Stewart summed up her feelings about t e l l i n g Freddy about his adoption by saying that Freddy had brought much happi-ness into their home, and they are sure they f e e l as close to him as they would have to a c h i l d born to them. She hopes that Freddy feels as close to them, and i f he does, she thinks his natural parents may be "just shadowy figures who have l i t t l e meaning to him. However, i f he wants more information, they w i l l t e l l him as much as they can. Freddy i s a likeable, friendly youngster with mid-brown hair and brown eyes. He i s i n grade three and doing average work at school. He appears to be a "typical boy", enjoying a l l the a c t i v i t i e s of an eight-year-old. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart l i k e many outdoor a c t i v i t i e s and Freddy has always been taken along on - 51 -their outdoor jaunts, so he has developed a taste for this type of l i f e too, much to the delight of his parents. Although the Stewarts are a closely-knit family group, Freddy does not appear to he s t i f l e d by too much family, i n fact his parents encourage him to enjoy the companionship of other children and participate in neighborhood and school a c t i v i t i e s . Freddy's place i n the fam-i l y seems to be well established. In this selected group of adoptive parents the i n t e r -views point out that a l l these parents had warm and positive f e e l -ings towards their baby right from the day of placement. The babies were placed d i r e c t l y from hospital i n two of the families, while i n f i v e of the families the babies were placed between the ages of 1 month and 4-ir months. In. this l a t t e r group a second baby was placed d i r e c t l y from hospital, and three of these families where the second c h i l d was placed said they appreciated the direct placement, acknowledging that the baby's f i r s t weeks were s a t i s -fying to them and beneficial to the baby. The whole group, with the exception of one family, i n t r o -duced the words "adoption" and "adopted" and used them in a simple story t e l l i n g the c h i l d how he came to l i v e with them, as soon as they thought their c h i l d could understand the simplest words and facts. Three of the families, where a second c h i l d was placed, used this event to introduce the story. - 52 -No questions have been asked about natural parents by any of the children i n the whole selected group, but the parents thought their explanations of adoption were satisfactory to their c h i l d . Did these parents unconsciously block any questions by their children, because they themselves had not f u l l y accepted the natural parents? A l l the adoptive parents i n the group studied stated that on the whole, they were s a t i s f i e d with the help they had re-ceived from the agency. Two families mentioned that they had appreciated some points introduced and discussed with them by their adoption worker, but admitted they did not reali z e at the time that the discussion would prove so valuable. Group meetings with other adoptive parents were not f e l t to be of primary impor-tance by most of the parents, although three families said they would have enjoyed discussing some general points after the baby had been placed. Group meetings may not appeal to adoptive parents generally because they have not had the experience of group discussion on such emotionally charged material as t e l l i n g a c h i l d he i s adopted. CHAPTER IV THE CHILD BECOMES A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY. After a c h i l d has been placed i n an adoption home, he changes from an isolated individual to a member of a family group. Whatever the explanations of adoption which are given to him de-pends not only on the child, but also on the kind of adoptive family with whom he i s placed. The feelings of the adoptive family are mingled with those of the child, and the a b i l i t y to face adop-tion r e a l i s t i c a l l y depends on how well these feelings are blended. As soon as adoptive parents are asked to share back-ground information with their child, a situation charged with emotion develops. In r e a l i t y , adoptive parents are asked to go beyond the point at which they themselves started with the c h i l d . They are being asked to discuss freely a phase i n their child's l i f e when they were not his parents. Adoptive parents are expec-ted to do something which natural parents are never called upon to do, that i s , to share their c h i l d with other parents. This study reveals that i t i s expecting a l o t of adoptive parents to handle, with complete objectivity, something i n which they are so closely and emotionally involved. If i t were possible to interview every family, who have - 54 -adopted a c h i l d , i t seems h i g h l y probable t h a t even today one would come acr o s s some f a m i l i e s who f o r one reason or another have not t o l d t h e i r c h i l d r e n they are adopted. However, a l l the ad o p t i v e parents i n the group s t u d i e d r e c o g n i z e d the need t o t e l l t h e i r c h i l d r e n they were adopted. I n a d d i t i o n t o r e c o g n i z i n g the need f o r t e l l i n g the c h i l d r e n , they accepted the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r d i s c h a r g i n g what they l o o k e d upon as t h e i r duty t o the c h i l d as w e l l as t o themselves. A l l admitted i t was a s i t u a t i o n i n which they d i d not f e e l c o m p l e t e l y c o m f o r t a b l e . But as uncom-f o r t a b l e and anxious as they might be, they i n t r o d u c e d the sub-j e c t when they f e l t the c h i l d was o l d enough t o understand the s i m p l e s t f a c t s and terms. Except f o r the Andersons, i n a l l the ot h e r f a m i l i e s s t u d i e d t h i s was done when the c h i l d was between two and f o u r y e a r s of age. Four of the f a m i l i e s i n t e r v i e w e d took the o p p o r t u n i t y when a second baby was p l a c e d i n t h e i r home. The p r e p a r a t i o n f o r the new baby gave the pare n t s something c o n c r e t e on which to b u i l d a s t o r y . They t o l d the c h i l d the si m p l e f a c t s of how they had not been a b l e t o have a baby of t h e i r own and be-cause they had wanted one so much, they had asked the agency t o h e l p f i n d one f o r them. They e x p l a i n e d t o the c h i l d how they had prepared f o r him j u s t as they were now p r e p a r i n g f o r the new baby. They t o l d him of goi n g to the h o s p i t a l t o see him, t h a t he was a b e a u t i f u l baby and how e x c i t e d they were when they brought him home. T h i s seemed t o impress the c h i l d t h a t he had been wanted, planned f o r , and t h a t h i s coming i n t o t h e i r f a m i l y was an event f i l l e d with, excitement and p l e a s u r e . The f a m i l i e s who d i d not have the advent of a second baby t o i n t r o d u c e the s u b j e c t , t o l d a s i m i l a r s t o r y , s t r e s s i n g how much they wanted him. A l l the parents were anxious t h a t t h e i r c h i l d f e e l t h a t h i s coming i n t o t h e i r f a m i l y was of g r e a t importance, and t h a t he brought much happiness and j o y t o them. The a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s chose t o t e l l the c h i l d " h i s s t o r y " as soon as he c o u l d understand s i m p l e words, because they f e l t t h a t the c h i l d s h o u l d know of h i s a d o p t i o n from them as h i s pa r e n t s none wanted to r i s k the c h i l d ' s d i s c o v e r y from o u t s i d e s o u r c e s . I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note t h a t a l l the pare n t s used the words "adopted" and " a d o p t i o n " r e a l i z i n g t h a t even i f they were j u s t words t o him, the use of these words and the s t o r y of how he came to l i v e w i t h them, must precede any r e a l u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the con-cept of a d o p t i o n . They f e l t i t necessary t h a t the s t o r y be s u r -rounded w i t h p l e a s a n t and l o v i n g over-tones, so t h a t when he under-s t o o d the a c t u a l f a c t s of h i s a d o p t i o n he would take i t i n h i s s t r i d e and accept i t as something which happened to him, perhaps d i f f e r e n t from o t h e r c h i l d r e n , but s t i l l s a t i s f a c t o r y t o him. By c o n t r a s t , the Anderson f a m i l y f e l t i t was not neces-s a r y t o t e l l t h e i r c h i l d r e n about t h e i r a d o p t i o n u n t i l they were o l d enough t o understand t h a t they had been b o r n to other p a r e n t s , but these p a r e n t s had d i e d . T h i s , t o the Andersons, was a sound enough reason which the c h i l d r e n c o u l d understand, t h a t i t was necessary f o r another home and ot h e r p a r e n t s t o he found f o r them. I n a d d i t i o n , the Andersons s t a t e d they b e l i e v e d t h a t i f the c h i l d r e n were secure and happy i n t h i s chosen home, t h e i r n a t u r a l parents would have l i t t l e meaning f o r them and would be j u s t shadowy f i g u r e s i n a past about which they have no r e c o l -l e c t i o n . The Andersons, however, l i k e the o t h e r a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s , d i d not want t h e i r c h i l d r e n t o hear of t h e i r a d o p t i o n o u t s i d e t h e i r home, f e e l i n g t h a t what had t o be t o l d s h o u l d come from them, as t h e i r p a r e n t s . Another p o i n t of i n t e r e s t i s t h a t o n l y one f a m i l y , the Johnsons, emphasized the f a c t t h a t t h e i r c h i l d was s p e c i a l l y chosen from a number of b a b i e s . The ot h e r f a m i l i e s f e l t i t was s u f f i c i e n t t o emphasize the j o y and p l e a s u r e the c h i l d brought them but not s e t him apart as b e i n g s p e c i a l l y chosen. I n d i s c u s s i o n w i t h these s e l e c t e d f a m i l i e s , i t was l e a r n e d t h a t i t was the a d o p t i n g mother who t o l d t h e i n i t i a l s t o r y , f a t h e r s o f t e n r e - e n f o r c e d the s t o r y by r e a d i n g t o the c h i l d s t o r i e s of o t h e r adopted c h i l d r e n , which helped the c h i l d r e n t o understand t h a t t h e r e were many adopted c h i l d r e n , and not something which had hap-pened only t o them. The Barbours and the F o s t e r s wonder i f they have emphasized too much t h a t t h e r e are many ot h e r adopted c h i l d r e n , s i n c e t h e i r c h i l d r e n seem t o t h i n k a l l b a b i e s come i n t o homes and secure parents through a d o p t i o n . T h i s might w e l l suggest t h a t w h i l e these p a r e n t s have c o n s c i e n t i o u s l y t o l d t h e c h i l d r e n of t h e i r a d o p t i o n , they have not been a b l e to f r e e l y accept and show - 5 7 -acceptance t o the c h i l d , t h a t he had been co n c e i v e d by and bo r n to another mother. Bone of the c h i l d r e n i n the f a m i l i e s s t u d i e d have asked any p a r t i c u l a r q u e s t i o n s about t h e i r " o t h e r p a r e n t s " , and none have asked where b a b i e s come from. B i l l y McLean had been t o l d t h a t b a b i e s grew i n t h e i r mummy's tummy and he wanted t o know how the baby got out of i t s mummy's tummy. Mrs. McLean's simple ex-p l a n a t i o n seemed t o s a t i s f y him, as he d i d n ' t ask what Mrs. McLean thought would be the next l o g i c a l q u e s t i o n "Did I grow i n your tummy?", so Mrs. McLean d i d n ' t pursue the d i s c u s s i o n any f u r t h e r . None of the c h i l d r e n i n these f a m i l i e s have asked any l e a d i n g q u e s t i o n s so f a r , but a l l the a d o p t i n g parents have s t a t e d t h a t they w i l l use as a l e v e r any q u e s t i o n the c h i l d might ask t h a t w i l l g i v e an o p p o r t u n i t y to b r i n g out the f a c t t h a t he was a c t u a l l y born t o "another mummy" and answer any more d i r e c t q u e s t i o n s the c h i l d might ask. However, i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to s p e c u l a t e t h a t i n a comparable s i m i l a r age group of c h i l d r e n who remained w i t h t h e i r own p a r e n t s , some would have asked more q u e s t i o n s about c o n c e p t i o n and b i r t h . A l l these parents f e l t t h a t t h e i r c h i l d r e n were s t i l l too young t o ask t h i s type of q u e s t i o n , but a l l r e a l i z e t h a t they may come at any time. They a l s o r e a l i z e t h a t they may have t o d e a l w i t h the f a c t t h a t the c h i l d was i l l e g i t i m a t e and they a l l admitted t h a t they have not y e t f o r m u l a t e d a p l a n of how they w i l l d i s c u s s t h i s w i t h t h e i r c h i l d . Mrs. Ames thought i t would be more accep-- 58 -t a b l e to a c h i l d t h a t h i s mother gave him up f o r a d o p t i o n because she was unmarried, and t h e r e f o r e d i d not have a proper home f o r him, than to e x p l a i n t h a t h i s parents were m a r r i e d but s t i l l gave him away. This may be g i v i n g Mrs. Ames some worry because her c h i l d i s the o n l y one i n t h i s study who was bo r n t o a m a r r i e d couple. None of the pa r e n t s have i n i t i a t e d q u e s t i o n s from t h e i r c h i l d i n order t o g i v e him i n f o r m a t i o n about h i m s e l f . Therefore i n t h i s group t h e r e i s no c h i l d who has been g i v e n any of the i n -f o r m a t i o n which h i s pare n t s l e a r n e d about him at the time of p l a c e -ment. The pare n t s i n the g r o u p , s t a t e d t h a t they had f o r g o t t e n most of the background i n f o r m a t i o n they had r e c e i v e d from the agen-cy. Mr. F o s t e r f e l t i t was important t o have the c o r r e c t and a c c u r a t e d e t a i l s , i n case h i s c h i l d r e n ask d e f i n i t e q u e s t i o n s . I n o r d e r ' t h a t he w i l l be ab l e t o answer t r u t h f u l l y , he has asked the agency t o send him a t y p e w r i t t e n copy of the c h i l d r e n ' s back-ground. Mrs. Barbour a l s o thought i t would upset a c h i l d t o answer q u e s t i o n s w i t h an i n d e f i n i t e " I don't know". The Andersons, on the o t h e r hand, p l a n t o s t a y w i t h the s t o r y t h a t the n a t u r a l p a r e n t s d i e d , and t h e r e i s no i n f o r m a t i o n a v a i l a b l e about them. On the whole, however, the a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s expressed t h e i r r e a d i n e s s t o answer t h e i r c h i l d ' s q u e s t i o n s . A l l f e l t these q u e s t i o n s w i l l not be r a i s e d u n t i l the c h i l d i s i n h i s teens, so a d m i t t e d l y have not g i v e n too much thought, as y e t , t o how they w i l l handle and d i s c u s s them. The parents r e a l i z e d i t i s necessary f o r the c h i l d t o f e e l t h a t h i s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s were "good" people and gave him up f o r a d o p t i o n because they wanted t o be sure he would have l o v i n g and k i n d p a r e n t s . ' I t would appear t h a t t h i s group of a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s have not r e a l i z e d nor g i v e n any thought t o the e f f e c t of i n t r o d u c i n g " o t h e r p a r e n t s " t o a c h i l d when he i s i n h i s teens, a time when he needs the s e c u r i t y of b e l o n g i n g to a f a m i l y a g a i n s t which he i s r e b e l l i n g . The q u e s t i o n might well be asked, then, "At what age sh o u l d the knowledge of n a t u r a l parents be i n t r o -duced?" The f a m i l i e s where placements were arranged d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l expressed t h e i r a p p r e c i a t i o n , f e e l i n g t h i s i s the i d e a l time t o take the baby, because i t i s b e t t e r f o r the baby t o be p l a c e d i n h i s permanent home as soon as p o s s i b l e , and because they enjoyed h i s e a r l i e s t development, perhaps s i n c e i t i s a p a r t of n a t u r a l parenthood t o have the f u l l c are of the i n f a n t as soon as he i s d i s c h a r g e d from h o s p i t a l . The f a m i l i e s where the p l a c e -ment was d e l a y e d u n t i l the baby was s e v e r a l weeks o l d , s a i d they would have p r e f e r r e d t o have had him d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l , t h i n k i n g as the o t h e r p a r e n t s d i d , t h a t a baby's f i r s t weeks are an important p a r t of h i s development and a s a t i s f y i n g e x p e r i e n c e f o r the p a r e n t s . None of the f a m i l i e s , except the Andersons, thought the placement s h o u l d be delayed i n order t o be sure t h a t the i n f a n t was p h y s i c a l l y normal. Mrs. Anderson s t a t e d t h a t she - 60 -thought the d o c t o r c o u l d e v a l u a t e the baby's development more a c c u r a t e l y when he was a month o l d . I n d i s c u s s i n g the amount of h e l p which was g i v e n by the agency workers, a l l the p a r e n t s s a i d some of the p o i n t s about t e l l i n g the c h i l d about h i s a d o p t i o n were brought out,and they a l l had agreed t h a t i t would be necessary t o t e l l the c h i l d . How-ever, they had not g i v e n i t enough s p e c i f i c thought t o r e a l i z e how important i t would become when they were f a c e d w i t h the a c t u a l t e l l i n g of the s t o r y . Some d i s c u s s e d i t more f u l l y d u r i n g the p r o b a t i o n p e r i o d , hut a l l f e l t the most d i f f i c u l t p a r t has y e t t o be t o l d , and i t 4 s i n t h i s a r e a t h a t they had needed and s t i l l need h e l p . They expressed a n x i e t y about how and what they w i l l t e l l t h e i r c h i l d about t h e i r n a t u r a l p a r e n t s . Some go so f a r as t o admit t h a t they hope they w i l l not be f a c e d w i t h t h i s d i f f i c u l t t a s k . This a n x i e t y may stem from the f a c t t h a t these a d o p t i v e parents have a c t u a l l y come to f e e l t h a t the c h i l d r e n are t h e i r own. "Almost a l l a d o p t i v e parents are t h r e a t e n e d by the i d e a of i n c l u d -i n g the n a t u r a l p a r e n t s i n t h e i r own thoughts and i n the c h i l d ' s l i f e . ' To them the l i f e of t h e i r c h i l d a c t u a l l y b e gins at the time of placement i n t o t h e i r f a m i l y . E m o t i o n a l l y , they have g i v e n b i r t h t o the c h i l d they have wanted and w a i t e d f o r . As time goes by and acceptance of him i n t e n s i f i e s , t h i s emotional b i r t h may a l s o seem t o them a p h y s i c a l one, t o f u l f i l l t h e i r i n n e r wishes t h a t he be a product of them."''" 1. E p p i c h , E t h e l D. and J e n k i n s , Alma C , " T e l l i n g Adopted C h i l d r e n " , S t u d i e s of C h i l d r e n , G. Meyer (E d . ) , Columbia U n i v e r -s i t y , King's Crown P r e s s , New York, 1948» - 61 -Most, however, f e l t i t was o n l y f a i r t o the c h i l d t o g i v e an e x p l a n a t i o n which i s t r u e and s a t i s f y i n g . A l l the paren t s have expressed t o a g r e a t e r or l e s s e r degree t h a t i t w i l l he d i f f i c u l t , because t o them i t means " s h a r i n g " t h e i r c h i l d w i t h o t h e r p a r e n t s , something which n a t u r a l p a r e n t s are never c a l l e d upon t o do. Th i s study r e v e a l e d t h a t a l l a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s i n t e r v i e w e d agreed t h a t t h e i r c h i l d s h o u l d be t o l d t h a t he was adopted. I t was apparent t h a t t h e r e were f e e l i n g s of a n x i e t y and many of the parent s were a b l e to express these f e e l i n g s . A l l b e l i e v e d t h a t the c h i l d s h o u l d be t o l d as soon as he c o u l d understand the s i m p l e f a c t s and agreed t h a t i t was a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y they had assumed when the c h i l d was p l a c e d w i t h them. The si m p l e f a c t s of how the c h i l d came t o l i v e w i t h them was used as a b a s i s f o r the s t o r y and the words "adopted" and " a d o p t i o n " were brought i n t o the s t o r y . The parents f e l t - t h i s was a s a t i s f a c t o r y way t o i n t r o d u c e the s u b j e c t and was a p p e a l i n g to the c h i l d . None of the p a r e n t s , however, mentioned the" " o t h e r " p a r e n t s and i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note t h a t when these c h i l d r e n became o l d e r they d i d not ask any of the u s u a l q u e s t i o n s asked by c h i l d r e n i n t h e i r age group about c o n c e p t i o n and b i r t h . Two f a m i l i e s f e l t t h e i r c h i l d r e n b e l i e v e d t h a t a l l b a b i e s o b t a i n e d parents and homes by a d o p t i o n . Could i t be t h a t these a d o p t i v e parents had not f u l l y accepted or shown acceptance t o the c h i l d of h i s " o t h e r " parents? A l l the parents s a i d they were prepared to d i s c u s s the - 62 -child's natural parents with him, hut none had f u l l y decided "how or when". They guessed that the c h i l d would probably ask some questions when he i s i n his teens. "Usually i n adolescence the adopted c h i l d does learn of his 'difference' and the degree to which this i s disturbing to him often varies with the degree of concealment of information about his natural parents and difference i n status which he experienced i n early years.""'" Is there a pos- -s i b i l i t y of greater ease and less anxiety for the adoptive parent and the chi l d i f he were told from the beginning of his b i r t h to "another mummy", who could not care for him so gave him to the adoptive parents becuase they could and did love him so much? This study revealed that adoptive parents should be en-couraged to discuss the pertinent facts about the natural parents with the chi l d when t e l l i n g him he i s adopted. This should be discussed with the parents before the:child i s placed and during the probation period, with acceptance by the adoption worker that the introduction and the t e l l i n g of the story may produce anxiety. Adoptive parents should f e e l free to return to the agency to d i s -cuss special problems and should be encouraged to do-so. Contrary to popular be l i e f , these adoptive parents participated with interest and enthusiasm i n this study. In fact they expressed an interest i n discussing at a lat e r date the questions their children may ask about "other" parents, their own anxieties and d i f f i c u l t i e s and their children's.reactions. ; 1. Lugtig, D.J., The Psychosocial Factors .Which'May .'Intensify  the Adolescent Foster Child's Concern About rHis -UnkhOwh-iNatural  Parents, Master of Social V/ork Thesis,' University o f ' B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver, 1956. p.38. - 63 -APPENDIX A BIBLIOGRAPHY Books BOWLBY, John Maternal Care and Mental Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1952, (Monograph Series 2) 1944. CHARNLEY, Jean The Art of Child Placement, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1955. ENGLISH and PEARSON, Emotional Problems of Living, W.W. Norton, New York, 1945. GORDON, Henrietta L., Casework Services for Children: Principles . and Practice, Houghton Mifflin ComDany, Boston, 1956. KORNITZER, M., Child Adoption in the Modern World, Putnam, London, 1952. LOCKRIDGE, Frances, Adopting a Child, Greenberg: Publisher, New York, 1947-RAYMOND, Louise, Adoption and After, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1955. RIBBLE, Margaret A., The Rights of Infants, Columbia University .. Press, New York, 1943. YOUNG, Leontine, Out of Wedlock, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1954. Periodicals Adoption Practices, Procedures and Problems, Child Welfare League of America, New York, 1949» Adoption Practice, Procedures and Problems, Child Welfare League of America, 1952« A Follow-up Study of Adoptive Families, Child Adoption Research Committee, New York, March 1951. BROWN, Florence, "What do we Seek in Adoptive Parents?", Social Casework, April 1951* CLOTHIER, Florence, "The Psychology of the Adopted Child", Mental . . Hygiene, April 1943. COSTIN, Lela B., "The History-giving Interview in Adoption Practice", Social Casework, 1954. DAVIS, R. M.,and BOUCK, P.,'"Crucial Importance of Adoption Home • . Study",•Child Welfare^March 1955. : ; ; de RIMANOCZYi Magda-E., • Some. Aspects,' of I Adoption• Probation; 'Master of Social:Work Thesis,;University•of British; Columbia, Vancouver, 1956. : - 64 -EPPICH,'Ethel D. and JENKINS, Alma C , "Te l l i n g Adopted Children", Studies-of Children, ..Columbia University, New. York, 1948. FREUD, Anna, GIBSON, Wilma M., HOUWINK, Eda, "Safeguarding the Emotional Health of our Children", Casework Papers, National Conference on Social Work, New York, 1954* C l i n i c a l Referrals i n Adoption Cases, Master of Social Work Thesis, University of B r i t i s h Colum-bia, Vancouver, 1955• "An Adopted Child Seeks His Own Mother", Child  Welfare League B u l l e t i n , New York, A p r i l 1943. JOSSELYN, Irene M., "The Family as a Psycho-Social Unit", Social Casework, Octoberj 1953. KOHLSAAT, Barbara and JOHNSON, Adelaide M., "Some Suggestions f o r Practice i n Infant Adoptions", Social Casework, March, 1954.. KELLY, WiMi, * • '' "The Placement of Young Infants f o r Adoption", . . Child Welfare; July, 1949. LUGTIG, Donald J., The Psychosocial Factors" Which May Intensify the Adolescent Foster Child 1 s^ Concern'about; 'f ' His Natural'Parents; Master-of Social Work Thesis, University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Van-couver, 1956. LYNCH,'E; = I., and-MERTZ, A. E., "Adoptive Placement of Infants Directly from-Hospital", Social Casework, December, 1955. McKAY,'Ruby, MORRISON, H. S., "Adoption of Children - a Family Service", B r i t i s h Columbia Welfare, August, 1952« -"Research Study i n an Adoption Program", Child Welfare, July, I95O. Policy? Manual; v Children 1 s Aid Society of Vancouver, 1956". RATHBURN; C , SHAPIRO, HVL.j SHAPIRO; Michael; SHAPIRO; Michael, YOUNG,•Leontine, ' "The"Adoptive Parent", Child Welfare'League'of  America:Bulletin, July, 195°. ."Anthropology and Adoption Practice", Child • • * Welfare;>December,<- 1955• -' • : "A'Study of Adoption Practice"; V o l u m e C h i l d WelfaretLeague'of- America; fApril, 1956. • • "A Study"of Adoption Practice",-Volume 2, Child Welfare;League of America, A p r i l , 1956. :"Placement from the Child's;Point of View", Journal!of * Social j Casework;'June, 1950. 

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