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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 S i x and Ten, Based on Children's A i d Society of Vancouver Cases, 1947-1957.  AUDREY ROTHNIE TAYLOR  Thesis Submitted i n P a r t i a l Fulfilment of the Requirements f o r the Degree of MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK i n the School of S o c i a l Work  Accepted as conforming to the standard required f o r the degree of Master of Social ¥ol"k  School of S o c i a l Work  1957 The University of B r i t i s h Columbia  iii ABSTRACT  Because of the growing recognition that early, continuous and warm relationships are essential f o r a c h i l d ' s healthy development, i t i s important that children be placed i n t h e i r adoptive home as early as possible and that the home be well chosen. But information about the origins of an adopted c h i l d i s s p e c i a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n several ways. The purpose of t h i s thesis i s to explore the subject of how adoptive parents t e l l t h e i r c h i l d he i s adopted, and to assess t h e i r feelings and attitudes on t h i s t o p i c . For exploratory purposes, seven adoptive homes were selected from the f i l e s of the Children's A i d Society of Vancouver for study. The adoptions had been completed from f i v e to nine years ago. Each c h i l d had been placed i n h i s 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 b r i e f description of the adoptive parents, t h e i r home, the c h i l d , and h i s adjustment i n the home. The subject of t e l l i n g the c h i l d he i s adopted i s focussed p a r t i c u l a r l y on (a) method of g i v i n g the information; (b) time of introduction of the subject; (c) the c h i l d ' s reaction; and (d) questions asked by the c h i l d . The analysis of the material obtained indicates that these adoptive parents accepted as t h e i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t e l l i n g t h e i r c h i l d he was adopted. Typically,the simple f a c t s of how he came to l i v e with them were t o l d to the c h i l d as soon as he was old enough to understand. However, none of the children i n the group studied had asked any questions about t h e i r natural parents, and a l l parents s i g n i f i e d that they would wait u n t i l t h e i r c h i l d asked s p e c i f i c questions. This suggests that adoptive parents have d i f f i c u l t i e s i n accepting natural parents, and t h e i r main area of concern i s how and when to t e l l t h e i r c h i l d about them. I t i s indicated that adoption workers should give more guidance to adoptive parents before and a f t e r placement i n t h i s area, and that adoptive parents should be encouraged to return to the agency f o r help i f needed.  iv  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  I wish to express my sincere thanks to Mrs. Helen Exner and Dr. L. C. Marsh f o r t h e i r invaluable guidance, encouragement  and much-  appreciated interest i n the development of t h i s thesis. My sincere thanks also to Miss Dorothy L. Coombe, Director of the Children's A i d Society of Vancouver, and her s t a f f f o r the use of case material.  ii TABLE OF CONTMTS Chapter I.  The Practice of Adoption.  Some early history. Trends i n adoption practices on t h i s continent; s i g n i f i c a n t changes of the post-war decade; current standards and p r i n c i p l e s of adoption. Legal aspects of adoption; the Adoption Act of B r i t i s h Columbia. The adoption p o l i c y of the Children's A i d Society of Vancouver with regard to children placed as infants. Some aspects of the adoption home study. Objectives and method of study Chapter I I .  1  Giving Background Information.  Individual needs of adoptive parents; discussion of c h i l d ; pertinent information to help adoptive parents i d e n t i f y with c h i l d . Anxieties of adoptive parents about unknown factors i n c h i l d ' s h i s t o r y . Pathology i n c h i l d ' s history. Guidance by adoption workers to adoptive parents with f e e l i n g s about t e l l i n g c h i l d he i s adopted  19  Chapter I I I . T e l l i n g the C h i l d He i s Adopted. Philosophy regarding t e l l i n g children they are adopted. Recorded interviews with seven adoptive parents where c h i l d was placed i n infancy and l e g a l adoption was completed f i v e to nine years ago. Feelings and attitudes of adoptive parents towards t e l l i n g c h i l d he i s adopted; method and type of information given to c h i l d ; c h i l d ' s response. Adoptive parents' reaction to help given by agency i n t h i s area Chapter IV.  The C h i l d Becomes a Member of the Family.  Analysis of material obtained i n interviews. Acceptance of c h i l d as a member of the family. Emotional c o n f l i c t of adoptive parents; concern about and withholding information regarding natural parents. The Social Worker's r o l e i n t h i s area of adoption practice  Appendix A,  30  Bibliography  53  63  PARENTAL INFOEMATIOU FOR THE ADOPTED CHILD  CHAPTER I THE PRACTICE OF ADOPTION.  'Adoption, a process i n v o l v i n g the a c q u i s i t i o n of l e g a l parents other than by b i r t h , has. s u r v i v e d many changes and modif i c a t i o n s through the-years, and has, g r a d u a l l y become a v i t a l and important"part o f the present-day present widespread  c h i l d welfare programme. The  i n t e r e s t i n the. adoption of c h i l d r e n i s one of  the most i n t e r e s t i n g developments i n the f i e l d of c h i l d - c a r e . The purpose of adoption, today, i n North America i s to provide, a c h i l d with healthy, secure family' r e l a t i o n s h i p s , which are recognized as a n - e s s e n t i a l f o r the development of. a p e r s o n a l i t y which can -meet, the challenges and problems of l i f e .  Adoption  today  has become the concern of s o c i a l agencies, s i n c e s o c i a l agencies, p a r t i c u l a r l y those dealing, with aspects of c h i l d welfare, understand the s p e c i a l needs of children,. and; are developing s k i l l s and techniques f o r s u c c e s s f u l adoptive placement of c h i l d r e n .  B r i e f H i s t o r i c a l Background • : ; : The problem of c h i l d r e n without parents i s as o l d as mankind.  Records of the: Babylonians', ancient Gr.eeks, and' ancient  Jews,, r e v e a l that they a l l practiced- some form p f adoption". ' • In O r i e n t a l c u l t u r e s , u n t i l r e c e n t l y , c h i l d r e n who l o s t their;-parents were cared f o r by r e l a t i v e s , no matter how d i s t a n t .  I n ancient  -  2  -  Roman t i m e s t h e l a w p r o v i d e d f o r t h e a d o p t i o n o f a d u l t s t o s a v e a f a m i l y l i n e from e x t i n c t i o n o r t o p r o v i d e strong, 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 t h e y were c a r e d f o r i n  monasteries. i n  England,  d u r i n g the p e r i o d o f t h e f e u d a l system,  t h e s e 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 g r o u p s .  How-  e v e r , when t h e f e u d a l s y s t e m 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 t y p e o f c a r e a v a i l a b l e , and t h e government h a d t o .take some action-.  The E l i z a b e t h a n s t a t u t e o f 1601 made e a c h community r e s -  p o n s i b l e f o r t h e c a r e o f i t s dependent c h i l d r e n . tem,  Under t h i s  sys-  o l d e r c h i l d r e n were p u t t o work and i n d e n t u r e d and t h i s  sometimes l e d t o a d o p t i o n  later.  L a t e r , d u r i n g t h e 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 , w h i c h d i d much t o a l l e v i a t e and; e x p l o i t a t i o n .  suffering  I n t i m e , p l a c e m e n t 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 e x t e n t b y 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  w h i c h sometimes l e d t o t h e a d o p t i o n o f t h e c h i l d r e n b y t h e i r foster  parents. I n t h e modern w o r l d , a d o p t i o n has:, nov^ a l m o s t  the- s a n c t i o n o f l e g a l s t a t u t e s .  universally,  The G r e e k and Roman l a w s f o r m e d  t h e b a s i s f o r a d o p t i o n l a w s i n most c o u n t r i e s of. t h e modern w o r l d . I n the U n i t e d States, the s t a t e of Massachusetts  was t h e 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.  E v e n t u a l l y a l l s t a t e s recognized adoption,  although the laws vary widely from s t a t e to s t a t e . Canada, i n the nineteenth century, p r o v i d e d - f o r i t s dependent c h i l d r e n by p l a c i n g them i n orphanages u s u a l l y by the church.  supported  However, there were many c h i l d r e n placed with  f a m i l i e s , and considered a member of the f a m i l y group without change of l e g a l s t a t u s , u n t i l Nova S c o t i a enacted the f i r s t adopt i o n a c t i n I896.  How each province has i t s own a c t .  The Adop-  t i o n Act d i f f e r s i n each province, i n d e t a i l , but the b a s i c p r i n c i p l e s are s i m i l a r .  A l l the p r o v i n c i a l acts i n t h i s country  hold that the adoption order d i v e s t s the n a t u r a l parents of t h e i r l e g a l r i g h t s regarding the c h i l d , although i n some instances the c h i l d may i n h e r i t from them as w e l l as from the adopting parents. I t confers on the adopting parents and adopted c h i l d a l l l e g a l p r i v i l e g e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s inherent i n the p a r e n t - c h i l d relationship.  Recent Adoption P r a c t i c e s The post-war decade has brought much new knowledge i•  about the development of c h i l d r e n .  Many o l d maxims of c h i l d  r e a r i n g are being abandoned as the needs of the c h i l d r e n are being b e t t e r understood.  Along with t h i s deeper understanding  of the c h i l d , there has been a s h i f t and a change of emphasis i n adoption practice.,.  - 4 This emphasis has s h i f t e d from p r o t e c t i o n "of adopting parents against adopting a c h i l d with a "questionable background", to the p r o t e c t i o n of the c h i l d from adoptive parents with "questionable f e e l i n g s 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 c h i l d r e n to the adequacy of adoptive parents i s evident, f o r example, i n an address given by Florence Brown at the New ference i n November,  York State Welfare Con-  1950* p o i n t i n g out the need f o r a c a r e f u l  evaluation of the a p p l i c a n t s ' readiness f o r adoptive parenthood. Miss Brown s t r e s s e s the importance of assessing (a) p e r s o n a l i t y adjustment, (b) f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and  (c) motivation i n adopting,  (d) a t t i t u d e s towards i n f e r t i l i t y . " ' ' Formerly,  c h i l d placement agencies were much  concerned  with "matching" the c h i l d to h i s adoptive f a m i l y from the point of view of n a t i o n a l i t y , mentality and p h y s i c a l appearance. recent a r t i c l e , Dr. Shapiro, Chairman of the New of Anthropology,  York Department  makes an assessment of c u l t u r a l , r a c i a l  n a t i o n a l f a c t o r s and questions the wisdom of p l a c i n g any on matching.  and emphasis  He s t a t e s that a.young c h i l d l e a r n s and acquires  the a t t i t u d e s of h i s adoptive parents, and encounters  no more  d i f f i c u l t y than the n a t u r a l c h i l d i n h i s l e a r n i n g from.his parents.  In a  own  Dr. Shapiro points out that " n a t i o n a l d i f f e r e n c e s " are  c u l t u r a l d i f f e r e n c e s and should be regarded as such.  He  deplores  the f a c t that p a r t i c u l a r p e r s o n a l i t y and p s y c h o l o g i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s are a t t r i b u t e d to c e r t a i n r a c e s . 1. Brown, Florence, "What Do We S o c i a l Casework, A p r i l 1951'  The only p s y c h o l o g i c a l Seek i n Adoptive  Parents?",  -  5 -  q u a l i t y which has h.een explained to any extent on a r a c i a l b a s i s i s i n t e l l i g e n c e , as measured by v a r i o u s standardized t e s t s that i n v o l v e both v e r b a l and non-verbal responses.  The scores on  these t e s t s are apparently i n f l u e n c e d i n v a r y i n g degree by educat i o n , m i l i e u and other environmental f a c t o r s .  Therefore, to some  extent, d i f f e r e n c e s between races subjected to divergent i n f l u ences can be discounted as non-genetic and n o n - r a c i a l .  However,  whether a l l the d i f f e r e n c e s can be a t t r i b u t e d to non-genetic factors i s s t i l l controversial.  But i n any event the d i f f e r e n c e  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 v a r i e t y of p e r s o n a l i t y 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 c h i l d r e n has r e s u l t e d i n e a r l i e r adoptive placement.  Many a u t h o r i -  t i e s , such as Arnold G e s e l l , F l o r e n c e C l o t h i e r , Margaret Ribble and John Bowlby, have pointed out that continuous mothering i s of paramount importance to the progress and w e l l - b e i n g of the i n f a n t . Dr. Bowlby has pointed out the dangers of d e f e r r i n g adoption placement'on  the assumption  that a more/accurate  t i o n of the c h i l d w i l l be p o s s i b l e a f t e r a few months.  evalua-  The p e r i o d  of w a i t i n g i n an atmosphere that l a c k s " p s y c h o l o g i c a l mothering" such as i n s t i t u t i o n s and crowded receiving-homes f o r babies - i s l i k e l y to produce r e t a r d a t i o n , which i s then taken as evidence 1. Shapiro, H.L., "Anthropology and Adoption P r a c t i c e " , C h i l d 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. paradoxical  s i t u a t i o n i n which the delay i n a r r a n g i n g  t i o n creates  a c o n d i t i o n i n t h e c h i l d w h i c h may  m a t e l y " u n f i t f o r adoption".''" The  Los  the h o s p i t a l .  make him  Angeles County Bureau o f i A d o p t i o n s  ulti-  obtained  placements e f f e c t e d d i r e c t l y  A l l f o r t y - f i v e s u c h p l a c e m e n t s made d u r i n g  The  p l a c e m e n t s had  the t h r e e - f o l d advantage of  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 adoptive  c h i l d r e n d e v e l o p e d w e l l i n t h e i r permanent homes.  m o t h e r s f e l t much more c o m f o r t a b l e for  f o r adop-  from  the  1952-54 seemed t o 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  a  -  excellent r e s u l t s with adoptive  period  Hence, t h e r e d e v e l o p s  adoption  without  i s o f t e n so d i f f i c u l t litation.  ..The  parents.  The  natural  a b o u t g i v i n g up, t h e i r b a b i e s  having to wait  s e l f good enough" f o r a d o p t i o n .  serving  The  f o r the i n f a n t " t o prove himsuspense i n v o l v e d i n  delay  f o r t h e m o t h e r s t h a t i t hampers t h e i r  adoptive  rehabi-  p a r e n t s were happy w i t h t h e d i r e c t p l a c e -  ments, f e e l i n g t h e c h i l d more t h e i r own  because they could  parti-  2  c i p a t e so e a r l y i n h i s g r o w t h . To p o i n t up agency :adoption  t h e changes t h a t have b e e n t a k i n g p l a c e  p r a c t i c e i n the U n i t e d  States  and  Canada, e v e n 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 w o r k s h o p on " A d o p t i o n P r a c t i c e s , P r o c e d u r e s and  in  and  second  Problems" of  the  1. B o w l b y , i -J.-,. M a t e r n a l C a r e and M e n t a l H e a l t h , C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y Press,- New Y o r k , -19,5,1 • - 2. Lynch,; 1=., and Mertz,;''A.,E.,. " A d o p t i v e P l a c e m e n t " o f I n f a n t s D i r e c t l y ..from t h e 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 o f A m e r i c a w i l l h e e n l i g h t e n i n g . r e p o r t was p u b l i s h e d i n 1949 * i d t h e s e c o n d i n 1952.  The f i r s t The f i r s t  a  w o r k s h o p w a s i a t t e n d e d b y 75 r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f 51 a g e n c i e s t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s and Canada.  The s e c o n d w o r k s h o p was  by 103 r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s f r o m 87 a g e n c i e s  from  from  attended  t h e same c o u n t r i e s .  On ee^ch o c c a s i o n t h e i n f o r m a t i o n g i v e n b y t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s a t t h e w o r k s h o p was s u p p l e m e n t e d b y i n f o r m a t i o n c o m p i l e d f r o m submitted cies i n  t o a q u e s t i o n n a i r e by  1952.  In  67 a g e n c i e s i n 1949?  a  n  (  answers  94 a g e n -  i  1949j 80 p e r c e n t o f t h e member a g e n c i e s 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 p l a c e m e n t , w h i l e i n 1952 o n l y 60 p e r c e n t o f t h e r e p o r t ing  a g e n c i e s 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 t h e c h i l d ' s  b a c k g r o u n d b e a l t o g e t h e r " h e a l t h y " and o n l y 47 p e r c e n t o f t h e a g e n c i e s 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  handi-  caps" . In  1949, t h e p a r t i c i p a t i n g a g e n c i e s  e a r l y placements, adopting parents.  d i d not approve o f  b e l i e v i n g t h a t t h e r e was t o o much r i s k f o r I n 1952, however, t h e a g e n c i e s b e l i e v e d t h a t  a c h i l d s h o u l d b e p l a c e d f o r a d o p t i o n "as e a r l y a s p o s s i b l e " . The  f o c u s has s h i f t e d f r o m p r o t e c t i o n o f a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s  possible risks,  to planning f o r the best i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d r e n .  A change o f t h i n k i n g ' w a s tudes  a l s o r e v e a l e d i n agency  towards i n v e s t i g a t i o n of,reasons f o r t h e a d o p t i v e  infertility.  from  atti-  parents*  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 o r i n v e s t i g a t e d , i n order 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 p e r c e n t o f t h e (  c i p a t i n g a g e n c i e s 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 t h e 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 t o have n a t u r a l  partir-  inability  children.  A n o t h e r i m p o r t a n t 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 o f a d o p t i o n w o r k e r s  to accept the r e s -  p o n s i b i l i t y o f d e c i d i n g on t h e adoptability o f t h e c h i l d . 17 a g e n c i e s r e p o r t e d t h a t t h e y ' r e l i e d a l m o s t  I n 1949?  e n t i r e l y on t h e r e -  commendation o f a - p s y c h i a t r i s t as t o w h e t h e r a c h i l d was a d o p t i b l e , (  and 13 a g e n c i e s r e p o r t e d t h a t t h e y d e l e g a t e d t h i s d e c i s i o n t o their physician.  I n c o n t r a s t , t h e p a r t i c i p a t i n g a g e n c i e s 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 decision f o r  a d o p t i o n i s a c a s e w o r k 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 c a s e s 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 t h e b e s t p l a n f o r e v e r y c h i l d who i s f r e e t o b e a d o p t e d vantages  of family  and who c a n b e n e f i t f r o m t h e a d -  life.  Legal Aspects of Adoption i n B r i t i s h , Adoption Acts throughout 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 . Columbia  Columbia  Canada v a r y i n d e t a i l , b u t The a d o p t i o n a c t o f B r i t i s h  p r o v i d e s t h a t t h e c h i l d must have r e s i d e d w i t h , and" b e e n  m a i n t a i n e d b y , the' a d o p t i n g p a r e n t s f o r a p e r i o d o f a t 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 t o adopt may b e r e q u e s t e d ' f r o m the. c o u r t .  There are c e r t a i n l e g a l procedures which must he followed before the p e t i t i o n can be presented i n Supreme Court, and the adoption order granted by the p r e s i d i n g judge.  At l e a s t s i x months before  the, p e t i t i o n i s f i l e d , the adoptive parents must n o t i f y the Superintendent  of C h i l d Welfare of t h e i r i n t e n t i o n 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 s o c i a l worker who  has been s u p e r v i s i n g the adoption home during the probation p e r i o d . I f , - on the b a s i s of t h i s r e p o r t , the Judge i s s a t i s f i e d that the home i s s u i t a b l e f o r t h e ' c h i l d he i s s u e s the adoption order.  This  order e s t a b l i s h e s a l l l e g a l p r i v i l e g e s 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; f o l l o w i n g w r i t t e n consents are r e q u i r e d and presented with the report to the c o u r t : 1.  Consent of n a t u r a l parents;  2.  C h i l d ' s consent i f he i s 1 2 years of age or over;  3.  Legal husband's consent i f the n a t u r a l mother was married at the time of the b i r t h of t h i s ( i f the mother was unmarried  child  her consent i s s u f -  ficient). Consent of the n a t u r a l parents may be waived under s p e c i a l  circum-  stances, f o r example,. when the parents are incapable of g i v i n g consent, or i f they cannot be l o c a t e d .  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 • C h i l d r e n who have no parent capable of g i v i n g s a t i s • f a c t o r y care and who are judged unadoptable,  are made wards of  the agency (guardianship i s t r a n s f e r r e d from the parents to' the agency by a court o r d e r ) .  However, i f t h i s c h i l d 'is i n due course  placed f o r adoption, parental consent  i s s t i l l required.  This i s  so because parents have the r i g h t to apply to the court f o r the r e t u r n of t h e i r c h i l d a f t e r guardianship has been t r a n s f e r r e d to the agency.  I n a d d i t i o n , n a t u r a l parents s i g n a consent  to the  adoption of t h e i r c h i l d i n t o a home which has been discussed with them, and to which they have given t h e i r approval.  Consent i n  B r i t i s h Columbia, at the time of placement, i s not relinquishment of the r i g h t s ' of the n a t u r a l parents, as they must be contacted i f the adoption placement f a i l s ,  and i f the c h i l d i s placed i n  another adoption home, a new consent must be obtained from the natural parents.  Adoption P o l i c y and Procedure  of the Children's A i d Society of  Vancouver with regard to c h i l d r e n placed a s - i n f a n t s . . Adoption involves- r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to three groups of people: 1. • to the c h i l d r e n f o r whom an; adoptive p l a n is, being considered., or has-been decided upon; 2.  •• to the n a t u r a l 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,  b e l i e v e s that the needs of  c h i l d must be the'primary focus of i t s p o l i c y and  the  procedures.  They b e l i e v e , too, that adoption i s the best plan f o r every c h i l d f r e e to be adopted and who family l i f e .  They consider  can b e n e f i t from the advantages of e a r l y placements, p r e f e r a b l y  directly  from h o s p i t a l , as best f o r the i n f a n t because of the importance to him  of continuous l o v i n g care from b i r t h .  They f e e l the need  to constantly remind themselves that a l i f e t i m e d e c i s i o n i s being made a f f e c t i n g the n a t u r a l parents, family.  the c h i l d and the  adoptive  Ih most cases the c h i l d cannot speak f o r himself,  his  f u t u r e therefore depends on the wisdom and i n 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 f u r t h e r b e l i e v e that  research  i n t o the cause of t h e i r 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 c a r r y out t h e i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s with increasing-confidence Planning  and s e c u r i t y .  f o r i n f a n t s to be placed f o r adoption follows  a well e s t a b l i s h e d procedure i n the Children's A i d Society of Vancouver. (1)  Weekly conferences are held attended  workers who planning  have been working with the mothers and  adoption f o r t h e i r  (2) workers who  by:  babies,  supervise c h i l d r e n of various ages f o r whom  adoption i s being considered  as a probable plan,  (3) adoption department supervisors and workers who adoptive (4)  fathers  applicants,  placement supervisors,. C h i l d Welfare D i v i s i o n .  work with  At t h i s conference the mother's worker presents the background information and a d e s c r i p t i o n of the c h i l d .  On the b a s i s of t h i s  information, the adoption workers who f e e l they have a f a m i l y that might meet the needs of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r c h i l d s t a t e they have a home f o r c o n s i d e r a t i o n .  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 v a r i o u s homes and decide together on one (or two, i f considered, advisable) f a m i l i e s . The chosen home i s then discussed with the n a t u r a l mother who i s given r e l e v a n t information that i s not i d e n t i f i a b l e . I f she i s s a t i s f i e d with the d e s c r i p t i o n , the adoption worker i s n o t 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 c h i l d ' s  background, u s u a l l y beginning with what the p r o s p e c t i v e parents want to know.  Further d i s c u s s i o n about the g i v i n g of background  information w i l l be dealt with i n another  chapter.  I f the adopting parents are i n t e r e s t e d i n the baby, arrangements are made f o r them to see him.  F o l l o w i n g the v i s i t  with the i n f a n t , s u f f i c i e n t time i s given adopting parents to think and t a l k over between themselves t h e i r d e c i s i o n about t a k i n g the c h i l d . out f o r the c h i l d , and he responds  and with t h e i r worker I f the couple  reaches  p o s i t i v e l y , t h e i r worker a r -  ranges f o r t h e i r doctor to examine the baby.  When the adopting  parents' doctor i s s a t i s f i e d with the h e a l t h of the i n f a n t , he advises the adopting parents who inform t h e i r worker.  - 13 On the day of placement, the adoption worker accompanies the adopting parents- to the h o s p i t a l or the foster-home,  and makes  sure they r e c e i v e a l l necessary information about the i n f a n t ' s formula, care, habits and ways, and are f e e l i n g as comfortable as p o s s i b l e i n t h e i r new r o l e .  Before e f f e c t i n g the t r a n s f e r of the  c h i l d , the adoption worker must a s c e r t a i n that the necessary  con-  sents have been secured. The probationary p e r i o d has as i t s o b j e c t i v e the f u r t h e r development of the p o t e n t i a l s of the adopting couples as good parents, and the worker's r o l e i s to help with problems that a r i s e i n the adjustment.of  the c h i l d and the parents to each other.  During t h i s period, the parents should be encouraged to discuss with the worker t h e i r 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 t h i s •.responsibility. v a t i o n , of the c h i l d and d i s c u s s i o n with the parents w i l l  Obser-  enable  the worker to assess the c h i l d ' s development and h i s p l a c e i n the home.  His general health, h i s appearance, h i s a c t i v i t i e s and h i s  r e l a t i o n s h i p to members of the f a m i l y are a l l i n d i c a t i o n s of h i s 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 s i b l i n g s are placed i n the same home.  I f a c h i l d beyond i n f a n c y i s to be  p l a c e d i n the home, he should be placed f i r s t , never a f t e r an i n f a n t has been placed.  A second c h i l d should be at l e a s t ten  months younger than the f i r s t , family.  as would be true i n a n a t u r a l  I f d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d i t i s apparent that the 'and  the parents  c a n n o t make a good a d j u s t m e n t , t h e w o r k e r must  help the parents is a difficult  child  t o see  this,  experience  on t h e p a r t o f t h e  and  r e l i n q u i s h the c h i l d .  f o r a l l , and  requires s k i l l  This  and  courage  worker.  B r i e f D e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e Home S t u d y . D u r i n g t h e l a s t d e c a d e more and more.- emphasis has p l a c e d on t h e home s t u d y ments.  The  been  as t h e c r u x o f s u c c e s s f u l a d o p t i o n  o b j e c t i v e i s t o §.elect f a m i l i e s who  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  w i l l be  place-  able  t o a c h i l d not b o r n t o them.  T h e r e 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 t h e method o f d u c t i n g t h e home s t u d y , b u t i s very  similar.  The  the-, b a s i c i n f o r m a t i o n and  home s t u d y  interviews w i t h both parents  together  and w i t h e a c h p a r e n t and  separately.  office interviews.  The  :  involve.  programme o f t h e agency and what t h e  study  An a p p l i c a t i o n i s g i v e n when i t has b e e n e s t a b l i s h e d  t h a t t h e agency and As  assessment  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 d e v o t e d t o a d e s c r i p -  t i o n of the adoption will  con-  i s conducted through a s e r i e s of  These a r e a c o m b i n a t i o n o f home v i s i t s first  to  t h e c o u p l e a r e r e a d y t o go on w i t h t h e  a p a r t o f t h e home s t u d y  a medical  report i s required -  study. the  C h i l d r e n ' s A i d S o c i e t y o f V a n c o u v e r r e q u i r e s t h e p h y s i c i a n t o comp l e t e a medical questionable consultants.  f o r m g i v e n t o t h e a p p l i c a n t s by  medical  the agency.  r e p o r t s a r e d i s c u s s e d w i t h t h e agency  Any medical  - 15 Following the medical  c l e a r a n c e , t h e home s t u d y  Dr. P e t e r N e u b a u e r , who h a s had g r e a t e x p e r i e n c e i n t h i s  proceeds. area,  has p o i n t e d o u t t h a t one c a n n o t p r e d i c t what k i n d o f p a r e n t s  appli-  c a n t s w i l l make, h u t t h a t one c a n measure t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n t h e m o t i v a t i o n s w h i c h 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  life  e x p e r i e n c e s w h i c h made them what t h e y are."'' The  r e l a t i o n s h i p o f t h e p a r e n t s t o each o t h e r i n t h e  present, p l a n t o adopt i s i m p o r t a n t . preparedness  The q u e s t i o n o f e m o t i o n a l  f o r a c h i l d needs t o b e i n v e s t i g a t e d i n t h e p r e s e n t .  To g e t t h e answers t o some o f t h e s e q u e s t i o n s , i t i s n e c e s s a r y , t o go b a c k t o some o f t h e p a s t e x p e r i e n c e s  of the prospective parents.  What k i n d o f p r o b l e m s d i d t h e y 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 p r o b l e m s and how do t h e y f e e l a b o u t them -  what a r e 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 other than t h e i r f a m i l i e s ? a child? children?  How do t h e y f e e l  What do t h e y e x p e c t  o r hope f o r f r o m  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  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?  have t h e a b i l i t y t o meet dependency y e t e n c o u r a g e g r o w t h ? t h e i r f e e l i n g s about h e r e d i t y ? and d i s c i p l i n e ? neighbors'  people  What a r e t h e i r i d e a s about  What a r e t h e i r f e e l i n g s and a t t i t u d e s  Do t h e y What a r e training  about  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 t o p l a c e c h i l d r e n w i t h p a r e n t s o f an  1. N e u b a u e r , P e t e r , "What t h e P s y c h i a t r i s t Can C o n t r i b u t e to the.Evaluation of the Adoptive Parents", Adoption .Practices, P r o c e d u r e s and P r o b l e m s , C h i l d W e l f a r e League o f A m e r i c a , I n c . , M a r c h 1952.  - 16 -  ;age;"natural" f o r the c h i l d . women o v e r f o r t y .  Thus i n f a n t s a r e n o t p l a c e d w i t h  I n accordance w i t h the l a w adoptive p l a c e -  ments s h o u l d n e v e r c r o s s m a j o r r e l i g i o u s l i n e s , i n o r d e r t o p r o t e c t t h e 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  should  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 b u t t h e r e i s no s e t c r i t e r i o n o f 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 o f  income i s e x p e c t e d , b u t t h e amount o f income i s o f no p r i m a r y importance  as l o n g as i t s u f f i c e s t o k e e p t h e c h i l d i n good  h e a l t h , t o p e r m i t h i m t o m a i n t a i n h i s s e l f - r e s p e c t , a n d 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 a b o u t income a r e  i m p o r t a n t , as i s t h e c a p a c i t y t o u s e money w i s e l y . To h e l p t h e c o u p l e p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e i r own a s s e s s m e n t i s one o f t h e most i m p o r t a n t home s t u d y .  The s u c c e s s  considerations i n conducting the  o f t h e a d o p t i o n w i l l depend on t h e d e -  gree t o which t h e a p p l i c a n t s t h i n k through, understand,  and a c -  c e p t 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 n e c e s s a r y  t o avoid unnecessary  p a i n by e f f e c t i n g  t i o n s as e a r l y a n d as s k i l l f u l l y a s 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 t h e f e e l i n g t h a t i t i s t h e i r for  a child,  and n o t themselves  rejec-  application  a s p e o p l e , who have b e e n - 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 b e r e j e c t e d s h o u l d b e h e l p e d t o w i t h d r a w on t h e i r own  initiative.  - 17 Method of Present Study The s p e c i a l purpose of t h i s 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 t h e i r c h i l d he was adopted; how they explained to him the f a c t s and circumstances of h i s adoption; the c h i l d ' s r e a c t i o n to these f a c t s , and the questions, i f any, he asked. The study i s d e l i b e r a t e l y exploratory and q u a l i t a t i v e i n form.  The f a m i l i e s studied were chosen from the f i l e s of the  Children's A i d Society of Vancouver and were cases i n which the adoption had been completed  between seven and eleven years ago.  The f a m i l i e s had s i m i l a r economic and r a c i a l backgrounds and the c h i l d r e n had been placed with them as i n f a n t s , four months o l d or younger.  Some of the f a m i l i e s had adopted more than one c h i l d ,  but the d i s c u s s i o n i n t h i s study concerns only the f i r s t to be-adopted..  child  Information regarding the c a l i b r e of the marriage  and the reasons f o r c h i l d l e s s n e s s was obtained from the records. The information was secured through interviews and was dependent upon the f a m i l y ' s w i l l i n g n e s s to be interviewed.  Be-  cause of l i m i t e d time, one i n t e r v i e w with each f a m i l y had to be sufficient.  I n a l l but one family, the e v a l u a t i o n i s given on the  b a s i s o f - t a l k i n g with one member of the f a m i l y , the adoptive mother. I t was c l e a r , however, that both mother and f a t h e r had discussed the m a t e r i a l p r i o r to the v i s i t .  - 18 The purpose of the study was  explained to the f a m i l y  on i n i t i a l contact, i n d i c a t i n g that i t would he of value i n h e l p i n g new  adoptive a p p l i c a n t s , i f they could''evaluate and  share t h e i r  experiences.  CHAPTER I I . GIVING BACKGROUND INFORMATION IN ADOPTION.  . The g i v i n g of information to the adoptive parents about the c h i l d and h i s f a m i l y background i s an important part of the adoptive process, but one which i s o f t e n l e s s w e l l out than other parts of the o v e r - a l l procedure.  thought  At the present  time, there are d i f f e r e n c e s i n opinion as to how much i n f o r m a t i o n should be given, and considerable disagreement on what c o n s t i t u t e s information that i s dangerous or not necessary to share. agreed at the C h i l d Welfare League of America N a t i o n a l  I t was  Conference  on Adoption i n A p r i l , 1956, that research i s needed on t h i s subjept. I t appears that o b j e c t i v e data i n regard to what adoptive parents have wanted to know about the background of t h e i r adopted c h i l d r e n , and what c h i l d r e n have wanted to know about t h e i r parents, i s to a l a r g e extent l a c k i n g . Agencies.do i n many cases l e a r n of l e s s s u c c e s s f u l adoption' placements when problems a r i s e with the c h i l d r e n and come to l i g h t at J u v e n i l e Courts or C h i l d Guidance C l i n i c s .  Very  s u c c e s s f u l placements are l i k e l y to be w e l l known, too • but few studies have been done i n the l a r g e in-between group. As was pointed out ^before, l e g a l adoption has been known on t h i s continent f o r 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 w h i c h t h e p r o f e s s i o n a l s o c i a l w o r k method has b e e n a p p l i e d .  An e x c e r p t f r o m A  Follow-up  Study o f Adoptive F a m i l i e s - C h i l d Adoption Research reveals that "  case-  Committee,  a d o p t i o n has been r o o t e d i n t h e t r a d i t i o n  that adoptive parents a f f o r d a resource f o r the care of the dependent c h i l d d e p r i v e d o f n a t u r a l family., t i e s . n  f a m i l y , i n c o n s e q u e n c e , was n o t t h o u g h t  The a d o p t i v e  o f as a p p l y i n g t o t h e  a d o p t i o n a g e n c y ; b u t r a t h e r was o f f e r i n g t o t a k e a c h i l d 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 h i m .  into Unlike  o t h e r c l i e n t s o f s o c i a l a g e n c i e s who were s e e n as p e o p l e  with  p r o b l e m s , c o m p l e x m o t i v a t i o n s and m i x e d f e e l i n g s , h a v i n g  their  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 a d e q u a t e l y 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 n o t a p p r o a c h e d a s clients at a l l .  Rather,  i n the beginnings  o f a d o p t i o n work,  t h e a p p r o a c h o f t h e a d o p t i o n w o r k e r was v e r y much l i k e t h a t o f t h e l a y community s e e i n g o n l y t h e 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 o f t h e a d o p t i v e f a m i l i e s , and t h e 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 u n d e r t h e guidance  o f t h e p r o f e s s i o n a l c a s e w o r k e r i t was r e c o g n i z e d t h a t  there are three sets of c l i e n t s ,  t h e c h i l d , t h e n a t u r a l mother  o r p a r e n t s , and t h e a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s . t e c h n i q u e s have 1. Research  From t h i s . n e w f o c u s , new  developed.  A Follow-up Study o f A d o p t i v e F a m i l i e s , C h i l d Committee, New Y o r k , M a r c h 1951- p.l34«  Adoption  - 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 t h e  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 l y a g r e e d t h a t a f a m i l y s h o u l d be t h e agency has, ment.  How  A recent tion", healthy (1)  he  given  i t is  article,  general-  as much i n f o r m a t i o n  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  much more i n f o r m a t i o n  is still  as  develop-  a controversial subject.  "Some S u g g e s t i o n s f o r P r a c t i c e i n I n f a n t Adop-  s u g g e s t s 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  s o l u t i o n o f h i s o e d i p a l and should  parents,  discussions  have a s e n s e o f b e i n g  i m p l i c i t i n such l o v e ; of h i s n a t u r a l parents. d e e p l y a f f e c t e d by  (2.), he  pre-oedipal  emotional  life:  loved, w i t h a l l the s e c u r i t y  should b e l i e v e i n the simple  decency  I f he i s i l l e g i t i m a t e , he i s much more  s u c h a s o c i o l o g i c a l p r o b l e m as  illegitimacy  t h a n he_ w o u l d be  otherwise.  In order  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 to the c h i l d ' s f u t u r e  d e v e l o p m e n t s h o u l d be w i t h h e l d  t o a c h i e v e t h e s e two  from adoptive  parents.  The  ing.implied i n taking this p o s i t i o n with prospective p a r e n t s must be w o r k e d t h r o u g h d y n a m i c a l l y , assured that the stand  taken is, thoroughly  con-  think-  adoptive  so t h a t one  can  integrated.  be  The  a r t i c l e f u r t h e r suggests that these fundamental  considerations  can be put  are  i n t o e f f e c t by m a t u r e c a s e w o r k e r s who  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 i s s u e s r e l e v a n t t o t h e p h y s i c a l and (2)  The  carrying  agencies re-examine  emotional h e a l t h of a baby;  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 o f t h e c h i l d be  t o p e r s o n s on a d m i n i s t r a t i v e and work d i r e c t l y w i t h t h e a d o p t i v e  delegated  c o n s u l t a t i v e l e v e l s who parents;  (3). The  worker  do  not  dealing  - 22 immediately with the adoptive parents i s given only the knowledge of the baby's p o t e n t i a l f o r good health."'" In contrast to t h i s view, however, i t i s f e l t by most. adoption workers and agencies that some f g e t s about baby's n a t u r a l parents, i n a d d i t i o n to the p e r t i n e n t f a c t s about h i s present h e a l t h and development, help p r o s p e c t i v e parents make a d e c i s i o n about a p a r t i c u l a r c h i l d and helps them to form a more secure r e l a t i o n s h i p with him. There i s no'set method of g i v i n g background, information, but the m a t e r i a l which i s shared should be on an i n d i v i d u a l b a s i s . This i s most e a s i l y done i n d i s c u s s i o n of the baby himself. Parents are most r e c e p t i v e i n t h i s area and f e e l f r e e r to ask questions.  The adoptive parents want and should hear about the  baby's progress, h i s f e e d i n g and s l e e p i n g h a b i t s , h i s r e a c t i o n s to people as seen by the doctor, h o s p i t a l nurse or foster-mother. Workers, however, may be too e n t h u s i a s t i c , p a r t i c u l a r l y i f the baby i s healthy and a t t r a c t i v e and she i s eager.to have him placed i n h i s permanent home.  Too much enthusiasm  on the part of the  worker, however, may not leave the parents f r e e to express any c o n f l i c t i n g f e e l i n g s 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 g i v i n g information about the f a m i l y background, the worker should begin with what the prosp e c t i v e parents want to know, and then give a d d i t i o n a l information 1. Kohlsaat, Barbara, and Johnson, Adelaide M.,M.D., "Some Suggestions f o r P r a c t i c e i n I n f a n t Adoptions",, S o c i a l C.as.ework,, ; ; ? « February, 1954* ' ' ' .  - 23 which w i l l help the adopting parents i d e n t i f y with the c h i l d . Some adoptive parents have w e l l thought out ideas regarding i l l e g i t i m a c y and can understand the n a t u r a l mother.  the d i f f i c u l t i e s i n v o l v e d f o r  Other couples need more s p e c i f i c  informa-  t i o n as to how the mother a r r i v e d at her d e c i s i o n to give up the baby, so they can r e l a t e to the n a t u r a l mother as a person and a r r i v e at a sympathetic understanding of why she made t h i s decision. Since i t i s g e n e r a l l y understood that most babies a v a i l a b l e f o r adoption are born to unmarried mothers, a t t i t u d e s and f e e l i n g s towards i l l e g i t i m a c y have u s u a l l y been discussed with the prospective parents during the home study.  I n the past,  some a p p l i c a n t s had r e a l f e e l i n g s about adopting a baby born to an unmarried mother as they feared the c h i l d w o u l d • " i n h e r i t h i s mother's immorality". parents.  They p r e f e r r e d to adopt a c h i l d of married  These f e e l i n g s and f e a r s are l e s s prevalent i n p r o s -  p e c t i v e parents today, although they o c c a s i o n a l l y come to l i g h t . By c o n t r a s t , some a p p l i c a n t s have mixed f e e l i n g s about married parents who surrender t h e i r c h i l d f o r adoption and may even wonder whether the c h i l d should be l e a v i n g h i s own parents. I t i s necessary then, that these f e e l i n g s and a t t i t u d e s be d i s cussed, as i t i s important f o r adoptive parents to be s a t i s f i e d and comfortable with the knowledge that t h e i r ...child s n a t u r a l 1  parents gave him up f o r h i s welfare.  This may come up l a t e r , i f  - 24  -  t h e c h i l d a s k s 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 s need t o i d e n t i f y  him-  1  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 o f i n f a n t s p l a c e d f o r adopt i o n i s o f t e n u n a v a i l a b l e ; sometimes, however, t h e f a t h e r has concerned  about t h e w e l f a r e o f t h e m o t h e r and has h e l p e d  d u r i n g her pregnancy.  been  her  These f a c t s c a n be u s e d w i t h some a d o p t i v e  parents to 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  child'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 t o some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s and may  be a n o t h e r  be o f  interest  factor i n helping  them t o r e l a t e t o t h e 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 c o m p a r a b l e t o 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 to parents, but i t i s important  adoptive  t o have a c l e a r u n d e r s t a n d i n g  what e d u c a t i o n a l a c h i e v e m e n t means, t o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s .  of The  f a c t t h a t t h e 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 n o t 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 necessary  limited.  I t may  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 t h e r e a s o n s  the parents l e f t  be why  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. -••  O f t e n t h e r e were c i r c u m s t a n c e s  s u c h as economic n e e d , o r l a c k o f  encouragement f r o m p a r e n t s w h i c h 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 necessary d e s i r e to stop s c h o o l .  o r more i n t e r e s t i n g a n d . c r e a t e d  E x p l a i n i n g these f a c t o r s to  p a r e n t s c a n h e l p them t o u n d e r s t a n d  and n o t f e e l  adoptive  disappointed  a  - 25 t h a t t h e c h i l d o f f e r e d t o them does n o t have h i g h e r a c a d e m i c achievement  in•his>background.  l a c k e d u c a t i o n a l background i n themselves  Some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s ,  themselves,  and i n t e r e s t and c a n a c c e p t t h i s  and p o t e n t i a l l y i n t h e i r a d o p t e d  lack  child.  Many a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s l i k e t o hope t h e 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 w o r k e r s  feel,  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 r e a s s u r a n c e t h a t i n g e n e r a l t h e 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 t h e a d o p t i v e parents. background  This too, helps to f u r t h e r the acceptance b y t h e p a r e n t s and b y t h e I n d i s c u s s i n g background  of the  child.  i n f o r m a t i o n , the adoption  w o r k e r must be a l e r t t o any u n s p o k e n a n x i e t i e s about  background  and a l l o w t h e s e a n x i e t i e s t o be e x p r e s s e d and m a t e r i a l 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  d i f f e r e n c e i n the c h i l d ' s background  relating  concern areas of  or areas of s i m i l a r i t y  t r a i t s or circumstances a parent r e j e c t s i n himself. i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t t h e b a b y ' s f a t h e r sometimes c a u s e s some a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s .  child's  Lack  to of  anxiety i n  T h i s i s u s u a l l y known as t h e s e  feelings  a r e e x p r e s s e d and d i s c u s s e d d u r i n g t h e home s t u 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 t h e f a t h e r t h e w o r k e r  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 , b u t t h e y s h o u l d be g i v e n t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o c u s s a g a i n t h e i r f e e l i n g s .about  it.  dis-  - 26  -  V/hen t h e r e i s some f a c t o r i n t h e c h i l d ' s ' f a m i l y h a c k g r o u n d t h a t m i g h t have an i m p o r t a n t h e a r i n g f u t u r e d e v e l o p m e n t , t h e agency s h o u l d r e l a t e d to whatever medical,  on t h e c h i l d ' s  have s p e c i f i c  information  psychological, psychiatric  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 to determine the 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.  and hereditary  I f i t i s decided  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 hackground i s not information parents.  s i g n i f i c a n t with regard  i n question  should  n o t he  to the c h i l d ' s f u t u r e , discussed  w i t h the  A d o p t i v e p a r e n t s must.accept the agency's  the  adoptive  responsi-  b i l i t y f o r m a k i n g d e c i s i o n s about t h e c h i l d ' s p r o b a b l e a d o p t a bility. may  To  share i n f o r m a t i o n  about p a t h o l o g y and  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  abnormalities parents  r e a l i s e t h a t t h e r e a r e some r i s k s f o r them as t h e r e parents.  are f o r  W o r k e r s r e a l i z e t h e r e i s a c e r t a i n amount o f  p r e s e n t i n e v e r y 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 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 t h e y may  should any  anxiety  discussing  unduly increase  the  otherwise 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 that there are c e r t a i n h e r e d i t a r y t o r s w h i c h 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  offspring.  I n these cases, i t i s necessary to s e l e c t  p a r e n t s who  h a v e shown q u a l i t i e s w h i c h l e a d t h e w o r k e r t o  l i e v e they can  fac-  a c c e p t a c h i l d where t h e r e i s more r i s k  adoptive be-  involved.  - 27 These adoptive parents must he able to face the u n c e r t a i n t y of the disease developing and must examine t h e i r own f e e l i n g s about being o f f e r e d a c h i l d with t h i s background, and equally important, re-examine t h e i r r e a l f e e l i n g s about the disease i t s e l f . In other s i t u a t i o n s when the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the pathol o g i c a l background f o r the f u t u r e development of the c h i l d cannot be determined  a f t e r c o n s u l t a t i o n the agency must decide, on an ;  i n d i v i d u a l b a s i s , what i n f o r m a t i o n should be'given to the adopt i v e parents, making sure they understand  the s i t u a t i o n , and what  i t means to them. I t i s recognised that i n these s i t u a t i o n s the worker has c e r t a i n r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . about such h e r e d i t y .  He must evaluate h i s own f e e l i n g s  I f he cannot, sort out these f e e l i n g s suc-  c e s s f u l l y , he may not be able to.present the m a t e r i a l i n a way which supports and encourages the prospective parents and y e t leaves them f r e e and comfortable to look at t h e i r own f e e l i n g s regarding the i n f a n t being discussed with them.  The worker should  be prepared to give the: f a m i l y some s c i e n t i f i c knowledge, i f the f a m i l y l a c k s this- knowledge.  I t i s agreed that the worker has a  d i f f i c u l t task i n determining whether a s e t of parents can or cannot accept a c h i l d with a p o s s i b l e f u t u r e handicap,  without  impairing t h e i r a b i l i t y to f u n c t i o n as parents. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that the 194-8 Workshop Adoption,  P r a c t i c e s , Procedures  and Problems, - revealed that  - 28  -  80 p e r c e n t o f t h e a g e n c i e s were l o o k i n g f o r t h e  "perfect"  c h i l d w i t h the " p e r f e c t " background  placement.  I n 1951,  f o r adoptive  60 p e r c e n t o f t h e r e p o r t i n g a g e n c i e s gave as a  d i t i o n f o r adoption t h a t the c h i l d ' s background  con-  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 p e r c e n t s p e c i f i e d t h a t t h e c h i l d must be f r e e o f h a n d i c a p .  This c o n t r a s t s w i t h almost  90 p e r , c e n t o f r e p o r t i n g a g e n c i e s i n 1954  w h i c h do n o t  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 .  rule  The  1954  Workshop a l s o s t a t e s t h a t n i n e out o f e v e r y t e n p a r t i c i p a t i n g a g e n c i e s s t a t e t h e y do n o t 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 t h e p r o d u c t o f i n c e s t o r i f h i s f a m i l y b a c k g r o u n d i n c l u d e d any o f t h e f o l l o w i n g c o n d i t i o n s :  epilepsy, tubercu-  l o s i s , heart disease, cancer, diabetes or v e n e r e a l d i s e a s e . E a c h 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 b a s e d u p o n s u c h f a c t o r s as c u r r e n t f i n d i n g s o f t h e p h y s i c i a n , t h e g e n e t i c i s t , t h e p s y c h i a t r i s t and social  worker."'' A d o p t i o n a g e n c i e s and w o r k e r s  bility  the  have a l a r g e r e s p o n s i -  i n h e l p i n g adoptive parents w i t h t h e i r anxieties  f e e l i n g s about t e l l i n g t h e c h i l d he i s a d o p t e d .  and  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 a c c e p t e d t h a t t h e c h i l d s h o u l d t o l d he i s a d o p t e d .  Experienced workers  be  i n t h e f i e l d o f adop-  t i o n and c h i l d p s y c h o l o g y know t h a t t h e c h i l d must grow up w i t h t h e k n o w l e d g e t h a t he i s a d o p t e d  i n o r d e r t o have t h e  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 W e l f a r e of America, A p r i l 1956.  League  - 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 adoptive  parents,  t h e w o r k e r s h o u l d k e e p i n mind t h a t t h i s d i s c u s s i o n about b a c k ground serves• another-purpose,  t h a t i s , i t s h o u l d e a s e t h e way i f  and when t h e c h i l d w i s h e s t o know s o m e t h i n g about h i s n a t u r a l f a m i ly,  and make t h i s l e s s f r i g h t e n i n g t o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s .  I t also  gives the o p p o r t u n i t y f o r the adoptive parents to d i s c u s s w i t h  the  w o r k e r t h e i r f e e l i n g s a b o u t t e l l i n g t h e c h i l d he i s a d o p t e d , ways o f h a n d l i n g s u c h q u e s t i o n s as "Why "What was  my  mother l i k e ? " ,  much as p o s s i b l e .  and  d i d my  mother g i v e me u p ? "  g e n e r a l l y s m o o t h i n g t h e way  I t s h o u l d a l s o l e a v e t h e way  and  as  c l e a r f o r them  t o come b a c k t o t h e a g e n c y , i f t h e y f e e l t h e y need more h e l p i n order to discuss t h i s w i t h t h e i r c h i l d i n a comfortable  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  article:  "Thus t h e s o c i a l w o r k e r c o n d u c t i n g t h e 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 t h e 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 t h e c h i l d b r i n g s q u e s t i o n s about h i s b a c k g r o u n d t o h i s a d o p t i v e parents. T h i s does not i m p l y t h a t we a r e a b l e t o g i v e adopt 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 q u e s t i o n s . . I n our a t t e m p t s t o 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 a s p e c t o f a d o p t i o n we a r e f a c e d w i t h t h e f a c t t h a t t h e r e i s no l a r g e body o f e x p e r i e n c e g r o w i n g out o f s o c i a l work o r p s y c h o t h e r a p y w i t h a d u l t s who were a d o p t e d as c h i l d r e n . . . . . We do .not know t h a t l a r g e numbers o f a d o p t e d 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, a p p e a r a n c e , n a t i o n a l i t y , occupation, or education. P e r h a p s t h e y have w a n t e d t o know q u i t e d i f f e r e n t t h i n g s . P e r h a p s we have sometimes f a i l e d t o a c k n o w l e d g e 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 t h e f e e l i n g t h a t we b e l i e v e t h e r e a r e r e a d y answers t o t h e 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 . B u t e v e n when we cannot g i v e a d o p t i n g parents 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 c a n h e l p i n l a y i n g t h e groundwork f o r t h i s p a r t o f t h e 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 P r o c e d u r e s " , S o c i a l Casework, November 1954.  CHAPTER I I I TELLING THE CHILD HE IS ADOPTED.  Most p e o p l e who adopt c h i l d r e n t o d a y f e e l i t i s a n a t u r a l , a n d s a t i s f a c t o r y way t o have a f a m i l y when i t i s n o t p o s s i b l e f o r one r e a s o n o r a n o t h e r 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 a c c e p t e d b y t h e s e p a r e n t s a n d most o f t e n i t i s a f a c t w h i c h i s pushed i n t o t h e b a c k o f t h e i r minds as t h e y come to  l o v e t h e c h i l d a s d e e p l y a s t h e y c o u l d have l o v e d a c h i l d  b o r n t o them.  A d o p t i v e p a r e n t s , however, a r e c o n c e r n e d  that the  c h i l d f e e l about them as t h e y do about him, a n d t h u s have w o r r i e s about t e l l i n g h i m he i s a d o p t e d . an i n i t i a l ted  I n the past parents had  s t r u g g l e as t o w h e t h e r t o t e l l  or not.  t h e c h i l d he was adop-  F o r t u n a t e l y t h e r e h a s b e e n a change i n r e c e n t y e a r s ,  and t h e s t r u g g l e t o d a y i s n o t w h e t h e r t o t e l l h i m o r n o t , b u t "when and how". E x p e r i e n c e a n d k n o w l e d g e have p r o v e n t h a t t h e r e i s n ' t a n y o t 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 t h e adopted to  c h i l d t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n which  belongs  him."'' In  built  a d d i t i o n t o t h e s t a b i l i t y o f the f a m i l y which i s  on a c c e p t a n c e b y a l l members o f t h e a d o p t i v e , 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 a n d P r a c t i c e , Houghton M i f f l i n Company, B o s t o n , 1956.  t h e r e i s t h e enormous p e a c e o f mind t h a t comes f r o m b e i n g a b l e t o b e h a v e 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 t h e a d o p t i o n must be b r o u g h t t o t h e a t t e n t i o n o f others.''" In  s p i t e o f t h e f a c t t h a t p a r e n t s know t h e y w i l l  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 , o f a n x i e t y and  tension regarding i t .  be  t h e y do have f e e l i n g s  P e r h a p s i t goes b a c k t o  the  f a c t t h a t t h e y may n o t f e e l q u i t e as a d e q u a t e as n a t u r a l p a r e n t s , b e c a u s e t h e c h i l d i s n o t b i o l o g i c a l l y t h e i r own. be f e e l i n g s a r o u n d 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 , i n v o l v e d i n pretending they are f e r t i l e . o v e r - r i d e common-sense and r e a s o n . adopting parents wonder.if  T h e r e may  still  and t h e y may  be  These a r e e m o t i o n s w h i c h  The b a r r i e r s t h e y s e t up make  t h e y a r e 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 a d o p t e d . f e a r t h e c h i l d w i l l r e j e c t them.  They  may  A d d i t i o n a l f e a r s a r e added  be-  cause parents r e a l i z e t h a t i t i s important  to the f u t u r e w e l l -  b e i n g o f t h e i r c h i l d t h a t t h i s a r e a be h a n d l e d w i s e l y and  well.  Methods i n t h e p l a c e m e n t o f c h i l d r e n have c h a n g e d e v o l v e d w i t h the growth of s o c i a l casework. changes i n p r o c e d u r e ,  and  Despite various  even i n the e v a l u a t i o n o f  adoptive  f a m i l i e s , t h e r e has b e e n among r e p u t a b l e s o c i a l a g e n c i e s  one  q u i r e m e n t made o f 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 t h e be t o l d o f h i s a d o p t i o n .  and  rechild  Therefore, i n planning t h i s project i t  was  decided 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  families  New  1. Raymond, L o u i s e , A d o p t i o n and A f t e r , H a r p e r and B r o t h e r s , Y o r k , 1955-  - 32 t h e i r f e e l i n g s 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 t h i s  information, whether the c h i l d asked questions about h i s n a t u r a l parents, and whether they f e l t they gave an explanation which was  s a t i s f y i n g to the c h i l d .  In a d d i t i o n 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 i n t e r e s t e d i n group meetings with other adoptive parents and an agency adoption worker, e i t h e r before or a f t e r placement. The adoptive parents were f a m i l i e s i n which the l e g a l adoption had been completed  between f i v e and nine years  ago.  They had been given p e r t i n e n t f a c t s regarding t h e i r c h i l d ' s background.  The study c o n s i s t e d of interviews with one or both adop-  t i v e parents.  I l l u s t r a t i v e Cases ( l ) The McLeans are both i n t h e i r l a t e t h i r t i e s ; both had high school education and Mr. McLean operates h i s .own business. 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 standards are i n keeping with those of the neighborhood.  The home study r e -  vealed that there were no p h y s i c a l reasons f o r the McLean's c h i l d lessness, and they a p p l i e d to adopt because they wanted a f a m i l y . The marriage  appeared  sound ahd secure and they impressed  worker as a h a p p i l y married couple.  the  - 33 B i l l y , now age 9i> was placed with the McLeans when he was 3lr months o l d . Mrs. McLean s a i d they would have l i k e d to have had him d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l , something i n h i s e a r l y weeks.  as they f e e l they missed  However,  they f e e l that B i l l y i s  as much a part of t h e i r f a m i l y as i f he had been horn to them, and as much accepted by t h e i r 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 t h i s event to b r i n g up the subject of adop-  t i o n with B i l l y .  She gave him a simple explanation about not be-  i n g able to have babies o f t h e i r own, so they had asked the agency to f i n d one f o r them.  Because they had been so happy with him  they had asked the agency to f i n d them another l i t t l e baby. Mrs. McLean s a i d B i l l y didn't ask any p a r t i c u l a r questions, but was interested  i n a l l the equipment the baby needed, and wondered i f  they had obtained the same things f o r him.  F o l l o w i n g t h i s the  McLeans began reading him s t o r i e s about adopted c h i l d r e n , t u t i n g t h e i r names f o r the ones used i n the s t o r i e s .  substi-  Mrs. McLean  s a i d they have always used the words "adoption" and "adopted". Recently B i l l y asked a p a r t i c u l a r question about how babies got out of t h e i r mummy's tummies and Mrs. McLean answered him  i n simple terms and followed t h i s 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 t h i s mummy had not been able t o look a f t e r him, but had wanted to make sure that he would have a mummy and daddy, she gave him t o  them.  Billy  -  seemed t o a c c e p t t h i s e x p l a n a t i o n and has n o t  any f u r t h e r q u e s t i o n s . been s a t i s f a c t o r y telling  34  asked  Mrs. McLean assumes t h i s e x p l a n a t i o n has  to B i l l y  t o d a t e , and she f e l t  c o m f o r t a b l e when  him. M r s . McLean s a i d ,  however, t h a t she and h e r husband  w o u l d have l i k e d t o have known more about how  other adoptive  parents discussed t h i s subject w i t h t h e i r c h i l d r e n . f e e l g r o u p m e e t i n g s w o u l d have b e e n h e l p f u l  They b o t h  t o them, and  would  h a v e l i k e d t o be a member o f a g r o u p j u s t b e f o r e t h e y i n t r o d u c e d the subject of adoption to t h e i r c h i l d .  Mrs. McLean had wondered  a b o u t c o n t a c t i n g t h e agency a g a i n k b u t f e l t  the workers  were b u s y ,  and p e r h a p s w o u l d f e e l t h e y s h o u l d be a b l e t o h a n d l e t h i s  question  themselves. . M r s . McLean r e a l i z e s  that they s t i l l  t o c o v e r , as she e x p e c t s B i l l y w i l l about h i s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s .  have a n o t h e r  ask some d e f i n i t e  area  questions  A t p r e s e n t t h e y have some a n x i e t y  a b o u t t h i s , b u t hope when t h e t i m e comes, t h e y 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 t h e t h a t h i s p a r e n t s d i d what t h e y t h o u g h t was McLean s a i d  she f e e l s  and b l u e e y e s . in school.  b e s t f o r him.  Mrs.  t h a t B i l l y ' s p a r e n t s must have b e e n h e a l t h y ,  i n t e l l i g e n t p e o p l e t o have p r o d u c e d Billy  feeling  such a f i n e  i s a handsome, well-bui'jj.t boy,  child. w i t h brown  hair  He i s i n g r a d e f o u r and d o i n g a b o v e - a v e r a g e work  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 e n t h u s i a s m i n community and s c h o o l a c t i v i t i e s . Mrs.  McLean r e m a r k e d t h a t many p e o p l e i n c l u d i n g some o f  r e l a t i v e s think that B i l l y  r e s e m b l e s M r . McLean and t h i s  b o t h M r . McLean and B i l l y . an i m p o r t a n t p a r t  (2)  It  group.  The B a r b o u r s a r e b o t h i n t h e i r e a r l y f o r t i e s .  The home s t a n d a r d s  are high,  a good r e s i d e n t i a l d i s t r i c t . for  is  his responsibilities  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 c h o s e n sion.  pleases  seems q u i t e e v i d e n t t h a t B i l l y  o f t h i s f a m i l y and a c c e p t s  as a member o f t h e  their  the B a r b o u r ' s apparent  profes-  and t h e home i s s i t u a t e d  No p h y s i c a l r e a s o n was e v e r  s t e r i l i t y , so a f t e r  r i a g e they a p p l i e d to adopt.  Mr.  ten years  detected of mar-  A c c o r d i n g to the case r e c o r d  w o r k e r was i m p r e s s e d b y t h e a p p a r e n t  q u a l i t y of t h e i r  in  the  marriage  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 t h e B a r b o u r s d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l at is  t h e age o f t e n d a y s .  the best time f o r placement,  baby's  e a r l y development,  as t h e y d i d n o t m i s s any o f  Barbour f e e l s  the  a l t h o u g h she q u a l i f i e d  feel  t h i s by s a y -  she has no way o f c o m p a r i n g h e r f e e l i n g s w i t h t h o s e o f a  natural  mother. Mrs.  bene-  home as e a r l y as p o s s i b l e .  t h a t the e a r l y placement helped her to  more l i k e a n a t u r a l m o t h e r , ing  this  and t h e y a l s o f e e l t h a t t h e i n f a n t  f i t s b y b e i n g p l a c e d i n h i s permanent Mrs.  They b o t h a g r e e d t h a t  B a r b o u r s a i d she b e g a n t e l l i n g Jimmy about  his  -  a d o p t i o n by s t o r i e s o f how and how for  36  -  t h e y went t o t h e h o s p i t a l t o s e e  a t t r a c t e d t h e y were t o him.  shopping  b l a n k e t s and c l o t h i n g and what t h e y t o o k t o t h e h o s p i t a l t o  b r i n g him home.  They have woven t h e s e d e t a i l s i n t o a s t o r y  have i n t r o d u c e d t h e f a c t t h a t he was a n o t h e r mummy. his  She t o l d him about  him,  and  not b o r n t o her, but t o  To d a t e Jimmy has n o t a s k e d any q u e s t i o n s about  n a t u r a l mother,  and M r s . B a r b o u r wonders i f he t h i n k s a l l  b a b i e s a r e b o r n t o o t h e r mummies and t h e n 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 t h e f a c t t h a t t h e r e a r e s e v e r a l ted  c h i l d r e n i n t h e i r immediate  adop-  neighborhood.  M r s . B a r b o u r s a i d she w a n t e d Jimmy t o know o f h i s a d o p t i o n as y o u n g as p o s s i b l e o r as s o o n as he c o u l d u n d e r s t a n d the  simplest facts.  She was  e m p h a t i c about t h i s as w i t h i n h e r  own f a m i l y g r o u p an a d o p t e d c h i l d d i s c o v e r e d t h e f a c t she a d o p t e d when she was  18, and i t was  an unhappy and  was  distressing  e x p e r i e n c e f o r h e r , an e x p e r i e n c e t h a t M r s . B a r b o u r f e l t  could  and s h o u l d have b e e n a v o i d e d . M r s . B a r b o u r s a i d Jimmy has a s k e d a f e w q u e s t i o n s about "where b a b i e s come f r o m " and she answered d i r e c t l y , b r i n g i n g i n t h a t he was  t h e s e s i m p l y and  not b o r n t o h e r .  Mrs.  Barbour  s a i d she had r e a d as much as she c o u l d on t h e s u b j e c t o f adopt i o n and f e e l s t h i s was  h e l p f u l t o h e r 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 t h e t i m e comes and Jimmy a s k s d i r e c t t i o n s about h i s n a t u r a l p a r e n t s t h e y w i l l  tell  ques-  h i m as much as  t h e y c a n and i f n e c e s s a r y o b t a i n more i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m t h e agency,  as s h e f e e l s i t w o u l d u p s e t 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".  M r s . B a r b o u r t h o u g h t g r o u p m e e t i n g s w o u l d be h e l p f u l , p r o b a b l y a f t e r placement b u t b e f o r e t h e time t o b e g i n t o t e l l the  child.  She e x p r e s s e d h e r a p p r e c i a t i o n f o r t h e a d o p t i o n  w o r k e r ' s h e l p , as s h e b r o u g h t up some f a c t s t h a t w o u l d n o t h a v e o c c u r r e d t o Mrs. Barbour.  M r s . B a r b o u r b e l i e v e s t h a t a l l adop-  t i v e parents should a n t i c i p a t e the f a c t that 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 t h o u g h t so t h a t t h e y w i l l  n o t be c a u g h t t o t a l l y u n p r e p a r e d when t h e  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 b o y w i t h a somewhat t e n s e a n x i o u s manner.  He i s i n g r a d e two a t s c h o o l , b u t n o t d o i n g as  w e l l as h i s a b i l i t y w o u l d i n d i c a t e he c a n .  Mrs. Barbour  said  t h a t Jimmy seems t o w o r r y about s c h o o l and she f e e l s h i s e x p e r i e n c e s a t s c h o o l a r e n o t happy, a l t h o u g h Jimmy does n o t t a l k a b o u t them.  T h i s w o r r i e s M r s . B a r b o u r , and seems t o make h e r  o v e r - p r o t e c t i v e o f t h e boy.  However, she e x p r e s s e d some c o n c e r n  b e c a u s e 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 t h e house t o t h e more v i g o r o u s o u t d o o r p l a y w i t h b o y s h i s own age.  She seems t o want  Jimmy t o be more l i k e b o y s h i s own age, y e t p r o t e c t s h i m .  (3) The J o h n s o n s  are both i n t h e i r early f o r t i e s ,  both  have p r o f e s s i o n a l t r a i n i n g , and Mr. J o h n s o n i s engaged i n h i s  - 38 profession.  -  Mrs. J o h n s o n c a r r i e d on w i t h h e r p r o f e s s i o n  after  m a r r i a g e s i n c e she e n j o y e d h e r work, h u t she s t a t e d she had a l ways b e e n r e a d y t o s t o p work when she became p r e g n a n t .  After  ten  y e a r s o f m a r r i a g e and t h e r e had not b e e n a p r e g n a n c y ,  both  Mr.  and M r s . J o h n s o n went t h r o u g h e x t e n s i v e t e s t s , b u t no  physi-  cal  r e a s o n c o u l d be f o u n d f o r t h e i r a p p a r e n t s t e r i l i t y .  They  a p p l i e d t o adopt as t h e y b o t h s t a t e d t h e y had a l w a y s wanted a family.  They were a b l e t o speak o f t h e i r d i s a p p o i n t m e n t a t n o t  having a natural c h i l d , s i n c e r e , mature  and t h e i r d e c i s i o n t o adopt was b a s e d  on  thinking.  Nancy, now  age s i x , was  age o f t e n d a y s , and b o t h Mr.  p l a c e d w i t h the Johnsons  at the  and Mrs. J o h n s o n a g r e e d t h a t  i s the i d e a l time f o r placement,  as t h e y f e l t  they d i d not  this miss  many o f t h e j o y s and u p s e t s a c c o r d e d n a t u r a l p a r e n t s i n t h e f i r s t weeks.-  When Nancy was  subject of adoption. to tal  about t h r e e , Mrs. J o h n s o n i n t r o d u c e d t h e She t o l d t h e c h i l d t h e y had not b e e n a b l e  have a l i t t l e b a b y o f t h e i r own,  so t h e y had gone t o t h e h o s p i -  and s p e c i a l l y p i c k e d h e r o u t f r o m a number o f b a b i e s .  When-  e v e r t h e y d r i v e p a s t t h e h o s p i t a l Mrs. J o h n s o n p o i n t s out t h e building telling first  Nancy t h a t i t was  i n that b u i l d i n g that  they  saw h e r and s p e c i a l l y p i c k e d h e r f r o m a l l t h e o t h e r b a b i e s .  R e c e n t l y Nancy a s k e d h e r mother why Mrs. Johnson t o l d her t h a t they f e l t  they s p e c i a l l y chose her, t h a t she l o o k e d l i k e  l i t t l e baby t h e y had hoped God w o u l d send t o them.  Mrs.  and  the Johnson  s a i d t h e y have r e a d s t o r i e s about a d o p t e d c h i l d r e n t o Nancy so  -  she w i l l has  39  -  l e a r n t h a t many c h i l d r e n a r e a d o p t e d .  n o t a s k e d "where b a b i e s  introduced  To d a t e Nancy  come f r o m " , so M r s . J o h n s o n has n o t  t h e " o t h e r mummy".  The J o h n s o n s have a l w a y s u s e d t h e  words " a d o p t e d " and " a d o p t i o n " ,  and M r s . J o h n s o n b e l i e v e s  that  i n Nancy's mind t h e s e words a r e c o n n e c t e d w i t h good t h i n g s happen t o c h i l d r e n . far  that  M r s . J o h n s o n b e l i e v e s t h e e x p l a n a t i o n so  i s q u i t e s a t i s f a c t o r y t o Nancy, b u t she e x p r e s s e d some a n x i e t y  about t e l l i n g t h e c h i l d about h e r o t h e r p a r e n t s .  The J o h n s o n s  d o n ' t f e e l t h e y 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  t o s a y t h a t t h e y hoped Nancy w o u l d n o t a s k any f u r t h e r on t h e o t h e r hand r e a l i z i n g t h a t s h e p r o b a b l y  will,  able  questions,  and t h e y must  p r e p a r e t h e m s e l v e s f o r them. Mrs. she  J o h n s o n was n o t e n t h u s i a s t i c about g r o u p m e e t i n g s ,  thought they might be h e l p f u l f o r d i s c u s s i o n o f g e n e r a l  i n r e l a t i o n to' adoption,  but that adoptive  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  parents  things  have t o u s e a n  child.  Nancy i s a n a t t r a c t i v e c h i l d w i t h d a r k b r o w n 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 , a l m o s t s o l e m n  i n manner, and a p p e a r s t o be l i s t e n i n g and w a 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 a r o u n d h e r . q u i r i n g mind and l e a r n s q u i c k l y .  M r s . J o h n s o n s a y s s h e has an e n She g e t s a l o n g w e l l w i t h t h e  o t h e r c h i l d r e n i n t h e n e i g h b o r h o o d , b u t i s g e n t l e and q u i e t i n her p l a y .  M r s . J o h n s o n s a i d t h a t Nancy i s much l i k e Mr. J o h n s o n  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 a s i f s h e h a d b e e n b o r n t o them".  - 40 -  (4) The A n d e r s o n s a r e a c o u p l e i n t h e i r 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 .  mid-forties,  Mr. A n d e r s o n 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 t h a n a v e r a g e They l i v e i n a good r e s i d e n t i a l p l e a s a n t and c o m f o r t a b l e . of  income.  d i s t r i c t and t h e i r home i s  One f e e l s t h e i n t e r e s t s and a c t i v i t i e s  the c h i l d r e n are of primary  importance.  Mrs. A n d e r s o n was p r e v i o u s l y m a r r i e d , and h e r f i r s t husband d i e d s u d d e n l y f o l l o w i n g a b r i e f Anderson f i n a n c i a l l y independent. union.  illness.  T h e r e were no c h i l d r e n b y t h i s  About t h r e e y e a r s a f t e r h e r f i r s t  A n d e r s o n m a r r i e d Mr. A n d e r s o n , satisfying  He l e f t M r s .  husband's d e a t h , M r s .  and t h i s a p p e a r s  t o be a m u t u a l l y  marriage. Gordon, age 9i"j "the o l d e s t o f t h r e e a d o p t e d  children,  was p l a c e d w i t h t h e A n d e r s o n s a t t h e age o f f o u r weeks. A n d e r s o n was s a t i s f i e d w i t h t h i s age f o r p l a c e m e n t , be a l i t t l e  more s u r e t h a t t h e baby was p h y s i c a l l y  I n t a l k i n g w i t h t h e A n d e r s o n s about t h e i r  Mrs.  as they c o u l d normal. children's  a d o p t i o n , M r s . A n d e r s o n a d m i t t e d t h a t she and h e r husband w o u l d l i k e t o f o r g e t t h a t t h e c h i l d r e n a r e adopted  as s h e i s s u r e t h e y  f e e l t h e same about t h e s e 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 their children.  about  However, t h e y b o t h r e a l i z e t h e c h i l d r e n c o u l d  h e a r about t h e i r a d o p t i o n o u t s i d e t h e home, and b e c a u s e o f t h i s they plan t o t e l l  each c h i l d as soon as t h e y f e e l t h a t he i s o l d  enough t o u n d e r s t a n d .  - 41 Consequently  when Gordon was nine, h i s f a t h e r took  him aside and t o l d him he was horn to another mummy, hut  this  other mummy and daddy died when he was horn, so he came t o l i v e with them, because they had always wanted a l i t t l e boy f o r t h e i r own.  Mr. Anderson added that they had taken Douglas and Linda  the same way. ren.)  (Douglas  and Linda are the younger adopted c h i l d -  Mr. Anderson t o l d Gordon not to t e l l  as they weren't o l d enough to understand.  the other c h i l d r e n ,  Gordon was  the d i s c u s s i o n , and didn't ask any questions.  quiet during  However, a few days  l a t e r he asked Mrs. Anderson i f she had known h i s other mummy, and what d i d she look l i k e .  Mrs. Anderson r e p l i e d that she had never  seen h i s other mummy, and didn't know anything about her.  Gordon  then r e p l i e d that he was sure he would have loved h i s other mummy, but not as much as he loved Mrs. Anderson.  Prom t h i s  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. concerned  statement  Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Anderson are  about f u t u r e questions as they f e e l i f the c h i l d r e n are  happy and secure they w i l l not concern themselves with f a c t s that have no meaning f o r them. Mrs. Anderson d i d 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 c h i l d he was adopted was  an i n d i v i d u a l matter f o r adopting parents to work out f o r  themselves.  Mrs. Anderson thinks i f the c h i l d r e n have enough  s e c u r i t y and a f f e c t i o n i n t h e i r adoptive home, they w i l l not be i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e i r n a t u r a l parents.  I f perchance t h e i r c h i l d r e n  - 42 s h o u l d ' a s k any q u e s t i o n s t h e y w i l l  stick to their original story,  t h a t t h e p a r e n t s a r e 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 , i n manner. at  g o o d - l o o k i n g b o y , p o l i t e and f r i e n d l y  He i s t a k i n g p i a n o l e s s o n s and p e r f o r m s f o r v i s i t o r s  h i s mother's r e q u e s t .  He i s w e l l l i k e d b y h i s t e a c h e r s and  playmates and e n t e r s i n t o a l l s c h o o l and neighborhood  activities.  Mr. and M r s . A n d e r s o n a r e p r o u d o f 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 a r e b o t h f o r t y y e a r s o f age, a n d 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 o p e r a t e s 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 ,  attractive  home a n d c a n b e d e s c r i b e d a s a happy c o u p l e who t h o r o u g h l y their children.  Mr. and M r s . F o s t e r were m a r r i e d s e v e n 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 t h e y h a d gone  e x t e n s i v e t e s t s , b u t no r e a s o n c o u l d b e f o u n d f o r t h e i r sterility.  themv  through apparent  When t h e y h a d m a r r i e d t h e y h a d 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 to  enjoy  sterility  was a g r e a t  disappointment  However, t h e i r d o c t o r t a l k e d w i t h them a b o u t a d o p t i o n ,  and s i n c e c h i l d r e n were i m p o r t a n t  t o them t h e y a p p l i e d t o a d o p t .  G e r a l d , now age s i x , was p l a c e d w i t h t h e F o s t e r s a t t h e age o f one month.  When he was 2-g- a s e c o n d c h i l d was p l a c e d w i t h  the Fosters d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l .  M r s . F o s t e r s a i d t h e y were  s o r r y they had not been a b l e t o t a 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 t h e y had  enjoyed  t h e s e c o n d b a b y ' s f i r s t weeks so much.  F o s t e r s t o o k t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o b r i n g up t o G e r a l d when t h e s e c o n d c h i l d was  the s u b j e c t of  placed.  The  adoption  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 t h e b a b y home, and t h e y e x p l a i n e d t o him t h a t t h e y had b r o u g h t him home t h e same way. 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  and t e l l s P a m e l a ( t h e y o u n g e r c h i l d ) how w i t h mother and dad t o b r i n g h e r home.  This  apparently  t a l k s about i t  he went t o t h e  hospital  F o l l o w i n g t h i s Mr.  and  M r s . 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 t h e s e 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 a s s u m i n g t h i s i s t h e way a l l b a b i e s g e t homes. o f h e r own  However, M r s . F o s t e r i s now  and t h e y b o t h f e e l t h i s w i l l  e x p e c t i n g a baby  g i v e them an i d e a l  t u n i t y t o e x p l a i n t o b o t h t h e c h i l d r e n t h a t some b a b i e s a r e  opporborn  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 a r e b o r n t o o t h e r mummies and daddies  and t h e n p l a c e d w i t h mummies and d a d d i e s who  any b a b i e s o f t h e i r Mr.  do not  own.  F o s t e r f e e l s a d o p t e d 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 o f t h e i r a d o p t i o n as s o o n as t h e y c a n u n d e r s t a n d words.  He b e l i e v e s t h a t t h e words " a d o p t i o n " and  the s i m p l e s t  "adopted"  be u s e d , so t h a t t h e c h i l d c a n a s s o c i a t e them w i t h p l e a s a n t ings. be  Mr.  have  should feel-  F o s t e r t h i n k s a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s have an o b l i g a t i o n t o  h o n e s t 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  to  make t h e t e l l i n g o f a d o p t i o n e a s i e r f o r t h e c h i l d r e n o r f o r t h e parents.  The  F o s t e r s have a s k e d  t h e agency f o r a t y p e w r i t t e n copy  - 44 o f t h e b a c k g r o u n d i n f o r m a t i o n w h i c h was d i s c u s s e d w i t h them a t t h e t i m e o f p l a c e m e n t s o t h e y 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 t h e 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  t h e c h i l d r e n c a n b e p r o u d o f 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 s o n f o r n o t t e l l i n g them what t h e y may want t o know, b u t t h e y will to  give the information only i f either c h i l d  know s o m e t h i n g about h i s n a t u r a l  expresses  a desire  parents.  Mr. and M r s . F o s t e r t h o u g h t g r o u p m e e t i n g s w o u l d be h e l p f u l t o adoptive parents, of adoption  p a r t i c u l a r l y just before the subject  i s introduced t o the c h i l d .  s i t u a t i o n w i t h other adoptive parents p o r t and c o u r a g e w i t h a d i f f i c u l t  They f e l t  discussing the  w o u l d have g i v e n them s u p -  problem which they admitted  g i v e n them many moments o f a n x i e t y .  Mr. F o s t e r f e l t  had  t h a t i t was  of t h e 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 confidence confidence  i n h i s parents,  and t h e p a r e n t s '  i n the c h i l d . The F o s t e r s e x p r e s s e d  their appreciation f o r their  a d o p t i o n w o r k e r , as s h e h a d d i s c u s s e d many p o i n t s w i t h them and had  e n c o u r a g e d 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 t h e  s e c o n d baby was p l a c e d . Gerald i s a w e l l - b u i l t , healthy, out-going b l o n d e h a i r and b l u e e y e s . and  He g e t s a l o n g w e l l w i t h t h e c h i l d r e n  a d u l t s i n the neighborhood.  know what, i s .going on.  boy w i t h  He i s a d v e n t u r e s o m e and l i k e s t o  Mr. F o s t e r d e s c r i b e s h i m as a " r e a l b o y " ,  - 45 f u l l of f u n y e t k i n d and considerate of h i s companions, quite apparent  It i s  that .Gerald has a secure place i n the F o s t e r f a m i l y  and i s a f a v o r i t e among the r e l a t i v e s .  (6) The Ames are 44 and 39 r e s p e c t i v e l y ; they both have high-school education and Mr. Ames holds a r e s p o n s i b l e p o s i t i o n i n a large i n d u s t r i a l firm. r a p i d l y i n the f i r m . standards are high.  He enjoys h i s work and has advanced  They maintain a comfortable home where the 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 t e s t s and learned that Mr. Ames was s t e r i l e . In view of t h i s unhappy circumstance t h e i r doctor suggested they consider a r t i f i c i a l  insemination, and a f t e r due c o n s i d e r a t i o n  they decided to f o l l o w h i s suggestion. for  that  As there were no f a c i l i t i e s  t h i s treatment here, the Ames went to New York, but much to  Mrs. Ames  1  disappointment  t h i s treatment was not s u c c e s s f u l .  Ac-  c o r d i n g l y upon t h e i r r e t u r n to t h i s c i t y , they a p p l i e d to the agency to- adopt an i n f a n t and i n due course a baby, Betty, age one month, was placed with them.  Betty i s now 10 years o l d and  Mrs. Ames s a i d they were d e l i g h t e d with her from the day of p l a c e ment, that she was such a b e a u t i f u l baby and had t h r i v e d so w e l l 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 c l o t h e s and equipment ready f o r the new baby, and Mrs. Ames mentioned that they were  - 46 adopting t h i s baby as they had adopted her.  They took Betty along  when they picked up the new baby and t o l d her that they had brought her to t h e i r home the same way.  Mrs. Ames followed t h i s beginning  by t e l l i n g Betty that s i n c e they had been unable.to have a baby of t h e i r own, they had a p p l i e d to the agency f o r a baby, whose mother could not look a f t e r her, because t h i s mother could not give the baby the kind of home she thought  the'baby should have.  These f a c t s have been repeated to the other adopted c h i l d , so Betty has heard t h i s s t o r y many times.  Recently Betty has asked her  mother why some mothers have to give up t h e i r babies, was i t only because they could not look a f t e r them?  Mrs. Ames r e p l i e d that  sometimes these mothers have to work and there i s no one to care f o r the baby p r o p e r l y .  She i s not sure that t h i s answer s a t i s f i e d  Betty, hut so f a r Betty has not asked any questions about her own mother, although Mrs. Ames has t r i e d to give her the opportunity. B e t t y 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 f e e l i n g s about t h i s at the time of placement.  She didn't  admit to these f e e l i n g s to the adoption worker, because Mrs. Ames s a i d at that time a baby was the most important  t h i n g to her.  She doesn't blame the agency e i t h e r , but r e a l i s e s now that she should have made her doubts known.  These f e e l i n g s are being r e -  a c t i v a t e d now, as Mrs. Ames thinks that Betty w i l l be wanting to know something about her n a t u r a l parents any time.  Mrs. Ames  - 47 plans  t o t e l l B e t t y t h e t r u t h , as s h e b e l i e v e s t h a t t h e c h i l d i s  e n t i t l e d t o know as much as s h e w a n t s . Mrs. married  mother, and s h e f e e l s more c o m f o r t a b l e Mrs.  favour  Ames s a i d t h e s e c o n d c h i l d was b o r n t o a n u n -  Ames s a i d s h e p r o b a b l y  w i t h these f a c t s .  w o u l d n o t have b e e n i n  o f 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  placed,  o r even j u s t b e f o r e  to Betty.  she i n t r o d u c e d  She b e l i e v e s t h a t a d o p t i n g  anxiety that w i l l  t h e b a b y was  the subject of  parents  adoption  do n o t r e a l i z e t h e  a r i s e when t h e y 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 a d o p t e d , more e s p e c i a l l y when t h e y f e e l they are going them away.  t o 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 p a r e n t s  I n s p i t e o f t h i s , M r s . Ames b e l i e v e s t h a t i t i s e v e r y  a d o p t e d c h i l d ' s r i g h t t o know t h a t he i s a d o p t e d , and t h a t i n g parents  gave  should begin  to t e l l  adopt-  t h e s t o r y as s o o n as t h e c h i l d  can understand t h e 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  step  was made e a s i e r f o r them b e c a u s e t h e y a d o p t e d a s e c o n d c h i l d , and u s e d t h i s as a n o p p o r t u n i t y Betty i s a bright, plump i n b u i l d .  to introduce the subject. attractive girl,  i n c l i n e d t o be  She i s i n g r a d e f i v e a t s c h o o l  are b e t t e r than average.  and h e r g r a d e s  M r s . Ames d e s c r i b e s h e r . a s a "bookworm"  and w o u l d l i k e t o s e e h e r 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 b e c a u s e s h e f e e l s t h a t B e t t y needs t h e c o m p a n i o n s h i p o f g i r l s h e r own age. is  B e t t y , on t h e o t h e r hand, l i k e s d o m e s t i c a c t i v i t i e s and  most h e l p f u l  t o h e r mother a r o u n d t h e h o u s e .  B o t h Mr. and M r s .  - 48 -  Ames f e e l t h a t B e t t y has l o t s o f a b i l i t y maintain her grades.  and encourage  her to  M r s . Ames s a i d B e t t y h a s f u l f i l l e d h e r  e x p e c t a t i o n s as a d a u g h t e r and t h e r e i s a c l o s e bond b e t w e e n them.  (7) The S t e w a r t s a r e b o t h 40 y e a r s o f age, b o t 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. S t e w a r t i s employed as a s a l e s man, work w h i c h he e n j o y s .  The S t e w a r t s ' income i s adequate a n d  t h e i r home i s c o 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 M r s .  S t e w a r t were m a r r i e d when t h e y were i n t h e i r e a r l y t w e n t i e s , and hoped t o have t h e i r f a m i l y w h i l e t h e y were youngg. However, Mr. S t e w a r t j o i n e d t h e army s h o r t l y a f t e r t h e i r m a r r i a g e and s p e n t three years overseas. war,  On h i s d i s c h a r g e f r o m t h e army a f t e r t h e  he r e t u r n e d t o h i s f o r m e r employment, and t h e y r e - e s t a b l i s h e d  t h e i r home.  Subsequently Mrs. Stewart had t h 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 t h e l a s t one, h e r d o c t o r t o l d h e r t h a t i t was u n likely  t h a t she would  e v e r be a b l e t o c a r r y a p r e g n a n c y  full  term.  T h i s was a m a j o r d i s a p p o i n t m e n t t o t h e S t e w a r t s and i t was dome time b e f o r e they a p p l i e d t o adopt.  However, t h e i r d e c i s i o n t o  a p p l y t o adopt was b a s e d on t h e i r d e s i r e t o have a c h i l d , and t h e y 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 y o u n g  c o u p l e , 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. a n d M r s . S t e w a r t  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 t h e y w o u l d have l i k e d t o have b e e n a b l e t o t a k e h i m  earlier,  as s h e f e e l s t h e y m i s s e d an i m p o r t a n t p a r t o f h i s  development i n t h e f i r s t  months.  When F r e d d y was about 3g-> Mr-. S t e w a r t ' s b r o t h e r and his  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 M r s .  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, a s t h e y h a d a d o p t e d  him.  She f o l -  l o w e d t h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n b y w e a v i n g i n t o a s t o r y how much t h e y had wanted a l i t t l e baby o f t h e i r own, and when t h e y l e a r n e d t h a t t h e y c o u l d n o t have one, t h e y had a s k e d t h e agency ,to h e l p them f i n d one.  She t o l d h i m about a l l t h e p r e p a r a t i o n s t h e y h a d  made b e f o r e t a k i n g h i m and showed h i m s n a p s h o t s he f i r s t  came t o l i v e w i t h them.  o f h i m s e l f when  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 y o u n g e r and s h e r e p e a t e d i t many times.  He d o e s n ' t  a s k f o r t h e s t o r y any more, b u t s h e i s q u i t e  s u r e t h a t he remembers i t v e r y w e l l .  Freddy  has n o t y e t a s k e d  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 M r s . S t e w a r t has n o t g i v e n him any more i n f o r m a t i o n .  M r s . S t e w a r t s a i d t h a t i f he w a n t s t o  know more when he i s o l d e r s h e p l a n s 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 c a n . She d o e s n ' t his  background,  so t h i n k s s h e w i l l  remember many d e t a i l s just t e l l  about  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 , b u t s h e b e l i e v e s t h a t t h e y were p r o b a b l y much l i k e Mr. S t e w a r t and h e r s e l f .  M r s . S t e w a r t s a i d s h e had  r e a d as much as s h e c o u l d on t h e s u b j e c t o f 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 t y p e o f answer i s sound and i t is  also t r u t h f u l .  Mrs. Stewart admitted t h a t i f she t h i n k s t o o  much about how she w i l l handle these questions i f they are asked, she becomes q u i t e anxious, but b e l i e v e s that a l l adoptive parents must have s i m i l a r f e e l i n g s and a n x i e t i e s . When asked about group meetings with other adoptive parents, Mrs. Stewart s a i d she b e l i e v e d they would be most u s e f u l and h e l p f u l p a r t i c u l a r l y to l e a r n how other adoptive parents plan to  tell  t h e i r c h i l d r e n about t h e i r n a t u r a l parents and why they  gave them up.  Mrs. Stewart s a i d she f e l t q u i t e comfortable i n  t e l l i n g Freddy the story of how he came to be t h e i r l i t t l e boy, but b e l i e v e s the most d i f f i c u l t part to be t o l d i s s t i l l  ahead of  them. Mrs. Stewart summed up her f e e l i n g s about t e l l i n g  Freddy  about h i s adoption by saying that Freddy had brought much happiness i n t o t h e i r home, and they are sure they f e e l as c l o s e to him as they would have to a c h i l d born to them.  She hopes that  Freddy  f e e l s as c l o s e to them, and i f he does, she thinks h i s n a t u r a l parents may be "just shadowy f i g u r e s 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 l i k e a b l e , f r i e n d l y youngster with mid-brown h a i r and brown eyes. at  school.  He i s i n grade three and doing average work  He appears to be a " t y p i c a l boy", enjoying a l l the  a c t i v i t i e s of an e i g h t - y e a r - o l d . 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  -  t h e i r outdoor jaunts, so he has developed a t a s t e f o r t h i s type of  l i f e too, much to the d e l i g h t of h i s parents.  Although the  Stewarts are a c l o s e l y - k n i t f a m i l y group, Freddy does not appear to he s t i f l e d by too much family, i n f a c t h i s parents encourage him to enjoy the companionship of other c h i l d r e n and p a r t i c i p a t e i n 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 w e l l e s t a b l i s h e d .  In  t h i s s e l e c t e d group of adoptive parents the i n t e r -  views point out that a l l these parents had warm and p o s i t i v e f e e l ings towards t h e i r baby r i g h t from the day of placement.  The  babies were placed d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l i n two of the f a m i l i e s , while i n f i v e of the f a m i l i e s the babies were placed between the ages of 1 month and 4-ir months.  In. t h i s l a t t e r group a second baby  was placed d i r e c t l y from h o s p i t a l , and three of these f a m i l i e s where the second c h i l d was placed s a i d they appreciated the d i r e c t placement, acknowledging that the baby's f i r s t  weeks were s a t i s -  f y i n g to them and b e n e f i c i a l to the baby. The whole group, with the exception of one family,  intro-  duced the words "adoption" and "adopted" and used them i n a simple s t o r y 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 t h e i r c h i l d could understand the simplest words and facts.  Three of the f a m i l i e s , where a second c h i l d was  used t h i s event to introduce the s t o r y .  placed,  - 52 -  No questions have been asked about n a t u r a l parents by any of the c h i l d r e n i n the whole s e l e c t e d group, but the parents thought t h e i r explanations of adoption were s a t i s f a c t o r y to t h e i r child.  Did these parents unconsciously block any questions by  t h e i r c h i l d r e n , 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 r e ceived from the agency.  Two f a m i l i e s mentioned that they had  appreciated some points introduced and discussed with them by t h e i r adoption worker, but admitted they d i d not r e a l i z e at the time that the d i s c u s s i o n would prove so v a l u a b l e .  Group meetings  with other adoptive parents were not f e l t to be of primary importance by most of the parents, although three f a m i l i e s s a i d they would have enjoyed d i s c u s s i n g some general points a f t e r the baby had been placed.  Group meetings may not appeal to adoptive  parents g e n e r a l l y because they have not had the experience of group d i s c u s s i o n on such emotionally charged m a t e r i a l 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.  A f t e r a c h i l d has been placed i n an adoption home, he changes from an i s o l a t e d i n d i v i d u a l to a member of a f a m i l y group. Whatever the explanations of adoption which are given to him  de-  pends not only on the c h i l d , but also on the k i n d of adoptive f a m i l y with whom he i s placed.  The f e e l i n g s of the adoptive f a m i l y  are mingled with those of the c h i l d , and the a b i l i t y to face adopt i o n r e a l i s t i c a l l y depends on how w e l l these f e e l i n g s are blended. As soon as adoptive parents are asked to share background information with t h e i r c h i l d , a s i t u a t i o n 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  s t a r t e d with the c h i l d .  They are being asked to discuss f r e e l y a phase i n t h e i r c h i l d ' s l i f e when they were not h i s parents.  Adoptive parents are expec-  ted to do something which n a t u r a l parents are never c a l l e d upon to do, that i s , to share t h e i r c h i l d with other parents.  This  study r e v e a l s that i t i s expecting a l o t of adoptive parents to handle, with complete o b j e c t i v i t y , something i n which they are so c l o s e l y and emotionally i n v o l v e d . I f i t were p o s s i b l e to i n t e r v i e w every f a m i l y , who  have  - 54 adopted  a c h i l d , i t seems h i g h l y p r o b a b l e t h a t even t o d a y one  w o u l d come a c r o s s some f a m i l i e s who f o r one r e a s o n o r a n o t h e r have n o t t o l d t h e i r c h i l d r e n t h e y a r e a d o p t e d .  However, a l l t h e  a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s i n t h e g r o u p s t u d i e d r e c o g n i z e d t h e need t o t e l l t h e i r c h i l d r e n t h e y were a d o p t e d . need f o r t e l l i n g for  I n a d d i t i o n to recognizing the  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  d i s c h a r g i n g what t h e y l o o k e d upon as t h e i r d u t y t o t h e c h i l d  as w e l l a s t o t h e m s e l v e s .  A l l a d m i t t e d 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 completely comfortable.  B u t as uncom-  f o r t a b l e and a n x i o u s as t h e y m i g h t b e , t h e y i n t r o d u c e d t h e s u b j e c t when t h e y f e l t  t h e c h i l d was o l d enough t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e  s i m p l e s t f a c t s and t e r m s .  Except f o r t h e Andersons,  i n a l l the  o t 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 t h e c h i l d was b e t w e e n two and f o u r y e a r s o f age.  Four of t h e f a m i l i e s i n t e r v i e w e d took  t h e o p p o r t u n i t y when a s e c o n d baby was p l a c e d i n t h e i r home. p r e p a r a t i o n f o r t h e new baby gave t h e p a r e n t s s o m e t h i n g on w h i c h t o b u i l d a s t o r y . of  The  concrete  They t o l d t h e c h i l d t h e s i m p l e f a c t s  how t h e y had n o t b e e n a b l e t o have a baby o f t h e i r own and b e -  c a u s e t h e y had wanted one so much, t h e y had a s k e d t h e agency h e l p f i n d one f o r them.  to  They e x p l a i n e d t o t h e c h i l d how t h e y  had p r e p a r e d f o r h i m j u s t a s t h e y were now p r e p a r i n g f o r t h e new baby.  They t o l d h i m o f g o i n g t o t h e h o s p i t a l t o s e e h i m , 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 t h e y were when t h e y him home.  brought  T h i s seemed t o i m p r e s s t h e c h i l d t h a t he had b e e n  w a n t e d , p l a n n e d 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 did  with, e x c i t e m e n t and p l e a s u r e .  n o t have t h e advent  The f a m i l i e s who  o f a s e c o n d baby t o i n t r o d u c e t h e 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 t h e y w a n t e d h i m . A l l t h e p a r e n t s were a n x i o u s 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 o f g r e a t i m p o r t a n c e , much h a p p i n e s s The  and t h a t he b r o u g h t  and j o y t o them. 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  "his story"  as soon as he c o u l d u n d e r s t a n d s i m p l e w o r d s , b e c a u s e t h e y  felt  t h a t t h e c h i l d s h o u l d know o f h i s a d o p t i o n f r o m them as h i s p a r e n t s none wanted t o r i s k t h e c h i l d ' s d i s c o v e r y f r o m o u t s i d e s o u r c e s . It  i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o n o t e t h a t a l l t h e p a r e n t s u s e d t h e 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 t h e y were j u s t  w o r d s t o him, t h e u s e o f t h e s e words and t h e s t o r y o f how he came to  l i v e w i t h them, must p r e c e d e  cept of adoption.  They f e l t  any r e a l u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e c o n -  i t n e c e s s a r y t h a t t h e s t o r y be s u r -  r o u n d e d w i t h p l e a s a n t and l o v i n g o v e r - t o n e s , s o t h a t when he u n d e r s t o o d t h e a c t u a l f a c t s o f h i s a d o p t i o n he w o u l d t a k e i t i n h i s s t r i d e and a c c e p t i t as s o m e t h i n g  w h i c h happened t o him, p e r h a p s  d i f f e r e n t from other 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 , t h e A n d e r s o n f a m i l y f e l t sary to t e l l old  i t was n o t n e c e s -  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  t h e y were  enough t o u n d e r s t a n d t h a t t h e y h a d b e e n b o r n t o o t h e r p a r e n t s ,  b u t t h e s e p a r e n t s had d i e d .  T h i s , t o t h e Andersons,  enough r e a s o n w h i c h t h e c h i l d r e n c o u l d u n d e r s t a n d ,  was a sound t h a t i t was  necessary them.  f o r another  home and o t h e r p a r e n t s t o h e f o u n d f o r  I n a d d i t i o n , t h e Andersons s t a t e d they b e l i e v e d t h a t i f  t h e c h i l d r e n were s e c u r e and happy i n t h i s c h o s e n home, t h e i r n a t u r a l p a r e n t s w o u l d have l i t t l e  meaning f o r them and w o u l d b e  j u s t shadowy f i g u r e s i n a p a s t about w h i c h t h e y have no r e c o l lection.  The A n d e r s o n s , however, l i k e t h e o t h e r a d o p t i v e  d i d n o t want t h e i r c h i l d r e n t o h e a r o f t h e i r a d o p t i o n  parents,  outside  t h e i r home, f e e l i n g t h a t what had t o b e t o l d s h o u l d come f r o m them, as t h e i r  parents.  A n o t h e r p o i n t o f 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 , t h e J o h n s o n s , e m p h a s i z e d t h e 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 f r o m a number o f b a b i e s .  The o t h e r f a m i l i e s f e l t  chosen  i t was s u f f i c i e n t  t o e m p h a s i z e t h e j o y and p l e a s u r e t h e c h i l d b r o u g h t them b u t n o t s e t h i m a p a r t 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 t h e s e 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 t h e a d o p t i n g mother who t o l d t h e i n i t i a l  story, fathers  o f t e n r e - e n f o r c e d t h e s t o r y by r e a d i n g t o t h e c h i l d s t o r i e s o f o t h e r adopted c h i l d r e n , which helped t h e c h i l d r e n t o understand  that  t h e r e were many a d o p t e d c h i l d r e n , and n o t s o m e t h i n g w h i c h h a d happened o n l y t o them.  The B a r b o u r s  and t h e F o s t e r s wonder i f t h e y  have e m p h a s i z e d t o o much t h a t t h e r e a r e many o t h e r a d o p t e d 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  adoption.  T h i s might w e l l suggest  that  w h i l e t h e s e 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 o f t h e i r a d o p t i o n , t h e y have n o t b e e n a b l e t o f r e e l y a c c e p t  and show  - 57 acceptance t o the c h i l d ,  t h a t he h a d b e e n c o n c e i v e d b y and b o r n  t o a n o t h e r mother. Bone o f t h e c h i l d r e n i n t h e f a m i l i e s s t u d i e d have a s k e d any  p a r t i c u l a r questions  about t h e i r " o t h e r  have a s k e d where b a b i e s come f r o m .  Billy  parents",  a n d none  McLean had b e e n 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 w a n t e d t o know how t h e baby got  o u t o f i t s mummy's tummy.  p l a n a t i o n seemed t o s a t i s f y him,  Mrs.  as he d i d n ' t  thought would be the next l o g i c a l q u e s t i o n tummy?", so Mrs.  McLean's s i m p l e e x ask what Mrs.  McLean  " D i d I grow i n y o u r  McLean d i d n ' t p u r s u e t h e d i s c u s s i o n any f u r t h e r .  None o f t h e c h i l d r e n i n t h e s e f a m i l i e s have a s k e d a n y leading questions  so f a r , b u t a l l the adopting  t h a t t h e y w i l l u s e as a l e v e r a n y q u e s t i o n will  g i v e an o p p o r t u n i t y  t o b r i n g out  p a r e n t s have s t a t e d  the c h i l d might a s k t h a t  t h e f a c t t h a t he was a c t u a l l y  b o r n t o " a n o t h e r mummy" and answer any more d i r e c t q u e s t i o n s t h e c h i l d might ask.  However, i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o s p e c u l a t e  that i n  a c o m p a r a b l e s i m i l a r age g r o u p o f c h i l d r e n who r e m a i n e d w i t h own  parents,  and b i r t h .  some w o u l d have a s k e d more q u e s t i o n s A l l these parents f e l t  come a t any t i m e .  conception  t h a t t h e i r c h i l d r e n were  too young t o a s k t h i s type o f q u e s t i o n , may  about  their  but a l l r e a l i z e that  still they  They a l s o r e a l i z e t h a t t h e y may have t o d e a l  w i t h t h e f a c t t h a t t h e c h i l d was i l l e g i t i m a t e and t h e y a l l a d m i t t e d t h a t t h e y have not y e t f o r m u l a t e d this with their child.  Mrs.  a p l a n o f how t h e y w i l l  discuss  Ames t h o u g h t i t w o u l d b e more a c c e p -  - 58 t a b l e t o a c h i l d t h a t h i s mother gave h i m up f o r a d o p t i o n b e c a u s e she was u n m a r r i e d , him,  and t h e r e f o r e d i d n o t have a p r o p e r home f o r  t h a n t o e x p l a i n t h a t h i s p a r e n t s were m a r r i e d b u t s t i l l  him away.  gave  T h i s may b e g i v i n g M r s . Ames some w o r r y b e c a u s e h e r  c h i l d i s t h e o n l y one i n t h i s s t u d y who was b o r n t o a m a r r i e d couple. None o f t h e p a r e n t s have i n i t i a t e d q u e s t i o n s f r o m c h i l d i n o r d e r t o g i v e h i m i n f o r m a t i o n about h i m s e l f .  their  Therefore  i n t h i s g r o u p t h e r e i s no c h i l d who has b e e n g i v e n any o f t h e i n f o r m a t i o n which h i s p a r e n t s l e a r n e d about him a t t h e time o f p l a c e ment.  The p a r e n t s i n t h e 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 o f t h e b a c k g r o u n d i n f o r m a t i o n t h e y had r e c e i v e d f r o m t h e a g e n cy.  Mr. F o s t e r f e l t  accurate d e t a i l s ,  i t was i m p o r t a n t  t o have t h e c o r r e c t and  i n case h i s c h i l d r e n ask d e f i n i t e  questions.  I n o r d e r ' t h a t he w i l l be a b l e t o answer t r u t h f u l l y , he has a s k e d t h e agency t o s e n d h i m a t y p e w r i t t e n copy o f t h e c h i l d r e n ' s b a c k ground.  Mrs. Barbour a l s o thought  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 t would upset  " I d o n ' t know".  a c h i l d t o answer  The A n d e r s o n s , on  t h e o t h e r hand, p l a n t o s t a y w i t h t h e s t o r y t h a t t h e 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. w h o l e , however, t h e a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s answer t h e i r c h i l d ' s q u e s t i o n s . not be r a i s e d u n t i l  expressed  A l l felt  On t h e  their readiness to  these questions  will  t h e c h i l d i s i n h i s t e e n s , so a d m i t t e d l y have  n o t g i v e n t o o much t h o u g h t ,  as y e t , t o how t h e y w i l l  h a n d l e 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  child  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" p e o p l e and gave up  him  f o r a d o p t i o n b e c a u s e t h e y wanted t o be s u r e he w o u l d have l o v i n g  and k i n d p a r e n t s . ' I t w o u l d a p p e a r t h a t t h i s g r o u p o f a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s have n o t r e a l i z e d n o r g i v e n any t h o u g h t  to 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 t e e n s ,  a  t i m e when he needs t h e s e c u r i t y o f b e l o n g i n g t o a f a m i l y a g a i n s t w h i c h he i s r e b e l l i n g .  The  q u e s t i o n m i g h t well be  asked,  "At what age s h o u l d t h e k n o w l e d g e o f n a t u r a l p a r e n t s be  then, intro-  duced?" The f a m i l i e s where p l a c e m e n t s from h o s p i t a l expressed  were a r r a n g e d  directly  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 t i m e t o t a k e t h e baby, b e c a u s e i t i s b e t t e r f o r t h e baby t o be p l a c e d i n h i s permanent home as s o o n 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 t h e f u l l  c a r e o f t h e i n f a n t as s o o n  as he i s d i s c h a r g e d f r o m h o s p i t a l .  The  ment was  s e v e r a l weeks o l d , s a i d  delayed u n t i l  t h e baby was  f a m i l i e s where t h e p l a c e -  w o u l d have p r e f e r r e d t o have had him d i r e c t l y f r o m  they  hospital,  t h i n k i n g as t h e o t h e r p a r e n t s d i d , t h a t a b a b y ' s f i r s t weeks a r e an i m p o r t a n t p a r t o f h i s d e v e l o p m e n t and a s a t i s f y i n g f o r the parents. thought  None o f t h e f a m i l i e s ,  except  experience  the Andersons,  t h e p l a c e m e n t s h o u l d be d e l a y e d i n o r d e r t o be s u r e t h a t  t h e 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  -  thought  60  -  t h e d o c t o r c o u l d e v a l u a t e t h e b a b y ' s d e v e l o p m e n t 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 t h e amount o f h e l p w h i c h was agency w o r k e r s , telling  g i v e n by  a l l t h e p a r e n t s s a i d some o f t h e p o i n t s about  t h e c h i l d about h i s a d o p t i o n were b r o u g h t  a l l had a g r e e d t h a t i t w o u l d be n e c e s s a r y t o t e l l e v e r , t h e y had n o t g i v e n i t enough s p e c i f i c  out,and  of the s t o r y .  thought  Some d i s c u s s e d i t more f u l l y  p r o b a t i o n p e r i o d , hut a l l f e l t be t o l d , and i t 4 need h e l p . tell  s  i  n  t h e most d i f f i c u l t  They e x p r e s s e d a n x i e t y about how  task.  how  actual  d u r i n g the  p a r t has y e t t o still  and what t h e y  will  Some go so f a r as  t h a t t h e y hope t h e y w i l l not be f a c e d w i t h t h i s  T h i s a n x i e t y may  How-  to r e a l i z e  t h i s a r e a t h a t t h e y had needed and  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 .  t o admit  they  the c h i l d .  i m p o r t a n t i t w o u l d become when t h e y were f a c e d w i t h t h e telling  the  difficult  stem from the f a c t t h a t these a d o p t i v e  p a r e n t s have a c t u a l l y come t o f e e l t h a t t h e c h i l d r e n a r e t h e i r "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 g t h e n a t u r a l p a r e n t s i n t h e i r own life.'  To them t h e l i f e  of p l a c e m e n t  t h o u g h t s and i n t h e  child's  As t i m e goes  o f him i n t e n s i f i e s , t h i s e m o t i o n a l b i r t h  a l s o seem t o them a p h y s i c a l one,  time  E m o t i o n a l l y , t h e y have g i v e n  b i r t h t o t h e c h i l d t h e y have wanted and w a i t e d f o r . by and a c c e p t a n c e  includ-  of t h e i r c h i l d a c t u a l l y begins at the  into their family.  own.  to f u l f i l l  may  t h e i r i n n e r wishes  t h a t he be a p r o d u c t o f 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 A d o p t e d C h i l d r e n " , S t u d i e s o f C h i l d r e n , G. Meyer ( E d . ) , C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y , K i n g ' s Crown P r e s s , New Y o r k , 1948»  -  61  -  M o s t , however, f e l t i t was o n l y f a i r  t o t h e c h i l d t o g i v e an  e x p l a n a t i o n w h i c h i s t r u e and s a t i s f y i n g . expressed  A l l the parents  have  t o a g r e a t e r o r l e s s e r d e g r e e t h a t i t w i l l he d i f f i c u l t ,  b e c a u s e 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 something which n a t u r a l parents  parents,  a r e n e v e r c a l l e d upon t o do.  This study revealed that a l l adoptive parents  interviewed  a g r e e d 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 a d o p t e d .  It  was a p p a r e n t t h a t t h e r e were f e e l i n g s o f a n x i e t y and many o f t h e p a r e n t s were a b l e t o e x p r e s s  these f e e l i n g s .  A l l believed that  t h e c h i l d s h o u l d be t o l d as s o o n as he c o u l d u n d e r s t a n d t h e s i m p l e f a c t s and a g r e e d t h a t i t was a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t h e y had assumed when t h e c h i l d was p l a c e d w i t h them.  The s i m p l e f a c t s o f how t h e c h i l d  came t o l i v e w i t h them was u s e d as a b a s i s f o r t h e s t o r y and t h e words " a d o p t e d " and " a d o p t i o n " were b r o u g h t i n t o t h e s t o r y . parents  felt-this  The  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 t h e s u b j e c t  and was a p p e a l i n g t o t h e c h i l d . m e n t i o n e d the" " o t h e r " p a r e n t s  None o f t h e p a r e n t s ,  however,  and i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o n o t e t h a t  when t h e s e c h i l d r e n became o l d e r t h e y d i d n o t a s k any o f t h e u s u a l questions and b i r t h . babies  a s k e d b y c h i l d r e n i n t h e i r age g r o u p about  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  obtained parents  these adoptive parents to  conception  and homes b y a d o p t i o n . had not f u l l y  the c h i l d of h i s "other" All  the parents  accepted  Could  i t be t h a t  o r shown a c c e p t a n c e  parents?  s a i d t h e y were p r e p a r e d  to discuss the  -  62  -  c h i l d ' s n a t u r a l 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 h i s teens.  "Usually i n adolescence the  adopted c h i l d does l e a r n of h i s ' d i f f e r e n c e ' and the degree to which t h i s i s d i s t u r b i n g to him o f t e n v a r i e s with the degree of concealment of information about h i s n a t u r a l parents and d i f f e r e n c e i n status which he experienced i n e a r l y years.""'"  Is there a pos- -  s i b i l i t y of greater ease and l e s s anxiety f o r the adoptive parent and the c h i l d i f he were t o l d from the beginning of h i s b i r t h to "another mummy", who could not care f o r him so gave him to the adoptive parents becuase they could and d i d love him so much? This study revealed that adoptive parents should be encouraged  to discuss the p e r t i n e n t f a c t s about the n a t u r a l parents  with the c h i l d when t e l l i n g him he i s adopted.  This should be  discussed with the parents before t h e : c h i l d i s placed and during the probation period, with acceptance by the adoption worker that the i n t r o d u c t i o n and the t e l l i n g of the s t o r y may produce anxiety. Adoptive parents should f e e l f r e e to r e t u r n to the agency to d i s cuss s p e c i a l problems and should be encouraged to do-so. Contrary to popular b e l i e f , these adoptive parents p a r t i c i p a t e d with i n t e r e s t and enthusiasm  i n t h i s study.  In f a c t  they expressed an i n t e r e s t i n d i s c u s s i n g at a l a t e r date the questions t h e i r c h i l d r e n may ask about "other" parents, t h e i r own a n x i e t i e s and d i f f i c u l t i e s and t h e i r c h i l d r e n ' s . r e a c t i o n s .  ;  1. Lugtig, D.J., The Psychosocial Factors .Which'May .'Intensify the Adolescent F o s t e r C h i l d ' s Concern About rHis -UnkhOwh-iNatural Parents, Master o f S o c i a l V/ork Thesis,' U n i v e r s i t y o f ' B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver, 1 9 5 6 . 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 M i f f l i n ComDany, Boston,  1956.  KORNITZER, M.,  Child Adoption i n the Modern World, Putnam,  London, 1952. LOCKRIDGE, Frances, Adopting a Child, Greenberg: Publisher, RAYMOND, Louise,  New York, 1947Adoption 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 BROWN, Florence,  Committee, New York, March 1951. "What do we Seek i n 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 i n 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 B r i t i s h ; Columbia, Vancouver, 1956. :  - 64 EPPICH,'Ethel  D. and JENKINS, Alma C , " T e l l i n g Adopted C h i l d r e n " , Studies-of C h i l d r e n , ..Columbia U n i v e r s i t y , New. York, 1 9 4 8 .  FREUD, Anna,  "Safeguarding the Emotional Health o f our C h i l d r e n " , Casework Papers, N a t i o n a l Conference on S o c i a l Work, New York, 1954*  GIBSON, Wilma M.,  C l i n i c a l R e f e r r a l s i n Adoption Cases, Master of S o c i a l Work Thesis, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columb i a , Vancouver, 1955•  HOUWINK, Eda,  "An Adopted C h i l d Seeks His Own Mother", C h i l d 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 U n i t " , Casework, Octoberj 1953.  Social  KOHLSAAT, Barbara and JOHNSON, Adelaide M., "Some Suggestions f o r P r a c t i c e i n Infant Adoptions", S o c i a l Casework, March, 1954.. KELLY, WiMi, . .  * • '' "The Placement o f Young I n f a n t s f o r Adoption", C h i l d Welfare; J u l y , 1949.  LUGTIG, Donald J . , The P s y c h o s o c i a l Factors" Which May I n t e n s i f y the Adolescent F o s t e r C h i l d s^ Concern'about 'f ' His Natural'Parents; Master-of S o c i a l Work Thesis, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver, 1956. 1  ;  LYNCH,'E; = I., and-MERTZ, A. E., "Adoptive Placement of Infants D i r e c t l y from-Hospital", S o c i a l Casework, December,  1955.  McKAY,'Ruby,  "Adoption o f C h i l d r e n - a Family Service", 2 B r i t i s h Columbia Welfare, August, 195 « -  MORRISON, H. S.,  "Research Study i n an Adoption Program", C h i l d Welfare, J u l y , I95O.  Policy? Manual; v C h i l d r e n s A i d Society o f Vancouver, 1  "The"Adoptive Parent", C h i l d Welfare'League'of America:Bulletin, J u l y , 195°.  RATHBURN; C , SHAPIRO, H V L . j  1956".  ."Anthropology and Adoption P r a c t i c e " , C h i l d : Welfare;>December,<- 1955• -' •  • • *  "A'Study o f Adoption P r a c t i c e " ; V o l u m e C h i l d WelfaretLeague'of- A m e r i c a ; A p r i l , 1956. •  SHAPIRO; Michael;  f  SHAPIRO; Michael, • "A Study"of Adoption Practice",-Volume 2, C h i l d Welfare;League of America, A p r i l , 1956. YOUNG,•Leontine, ' "Placement from the C h i l d ' s ; P o i n t of View", J o u r n a l ! o f * S o c i a l Casework;'June, 1950. :  j  

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