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A casework study of parents requesting the adoption placement of legitimate children : a study cases from Greater Vancouver social agencies, 1951 Maunders, Thomas Fulton

Abstract

Of all the children who are placed for adoption the legitimate children who are voluntarily placed make up the smallest group. Since voluntary adoption placement of legitimate children differs from the normal cultural pattern cases of this nature present a challenge to the social agencies. The purpose of the present study is the examination of such a group of cases. All cases of this nature which have been known to the public and private child-caring social agencies and family social agencies in the Burnaby, New Westminster and Vancouver areas during the year 1951 were examined. The criteria of selection were: (a) the parents were married, (b) the husband was the natural father of the child in question. Only seventeen cases were known to the designated social agencies during the year 1951. A schedule was drawn up for the purpose of analyzing the case records. Besides information such as name, age, occupation of father, the schedule tried to distinguish four main "areas": (a) the attitude of the parents towards the child, (b) the parents' psycho-socio situations, (c) the parents' own childhood experiences, and (d) the parents' contacts with the social agency. The parents' religious affiliations were varied including the Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish faiths. In almost one-quarter of the cases the woman was pregnant at the time of marriage; also almost one-third of the total number of parents came from homes broken by death, desertion or divorce. In five of the cases the child in (question was the first child in the family; the remaining twelve families had, on the average, 2.8 children. In eleven of the cases the parents followed through their request for adoption and placed the child with another family; in the remaining six cases the parents decided against adoption placement and kept the child. The distribution of parental attitudes included rejection, indifference, ambivalence and only two cases of mature love. When the distribution of parental attitudes in the larger group of cases (where the child was placed for adoption) was compared with the distribution in the smaller group of cases (where the child was not placed for adoption) two main differences were revealed: (a) the manifestations of ambivalence expressed by the parents in the "retained" group were weighed in favour of the more positive aspects, and (b) the predominant parental attitude in the "placed" group was one of rejection followed by attitudes of "negative" ambivalence and indifference. No one causative factor leading the parents to consider adoption placement "was apparent, but rather a multiplicity of factors, including the following: refusal to assume further responsibilities; marital disharmony between the parents; inability to provide for the child financially; inadequacies of the parents to meet their responsibilities; doubts and anxieties about the family's future economic position; interference by in-laws. In the majority of the cases the children in question were not regarded by the parents as objects with individuality but appeared to be regarded as "problem objects." This may account for the fact that in none of the cases was there any change in parental attitudes because of the sex of the child. It is impossible to generalize from such a small selection of cases but if later studies bear out these findings then there is no need for delay in making plans for the expected child because the sex is unknown. Both groups of parents, those who placed their children, and those who decided against placement, are in need of help from the social agency in sorting out their confused feelings. The agency's main resource in working with this type of case lies in the professional worker-client relationship. However, in this type of case the social worker experiences special difficulty because of the dual responsibility of helping to work out a plan which appears to be in the best interest of the parents, and also one in the best interest of the baby.

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