“The Chosen Child – An Adoption Study” 1960’s

28 Jul

There is a myth that during our era that unilaterally our parents were told “not to tell” us we were adopted and things were done so different back in our day.  Did some agencies (private or public) tell their clients “not to tell”?  Perhaps.  Yet it was by no means a universal decree “not to tell”, nor that the process to be approved to adopt was so very different.  I do think there was a great number of adoptions facilitated by doctors and lawyers where parents were not scrutinized, but rather the willingness to pay a lot of money was the main qualification, but hey, lets not kid ourselves – that still happens today.    

What was common was the myth that if we were adopted early, and brought up in a good home, we would never want to search or even be curious.  That myth was pervasive and created a lot of issues for adoptees and still does to this day.   

Adoption through the state was common, mothers surrendered their parental rights to the state – completely different from today’s involuntary surrenders or apprehensions at birth.  Night and day different scenario.

This morning I found this film broken into 5 short videos called “The Chosen Child – An Adoption Study” filmed circa early 1960’s and follows the process of adoption primarily through the New York State Adoption Unit.  The film follows a couple through the doctor’s appointment about infertility about looking into adoption and who he recommended in Part 1. Part 2 is the first interview of the Home Study and talks what they are looking for, and of course it is the healthy white baby.  It then talks about waiting children that most likely will not be adopted because of physical or mental disabilities or the social issue of race.  Parts 3, 4, are more on the Home Study Process, the separate interviews, the reference letters, financials, and the home visit, and the sad reality for the older children and babies not adoptable. Part 5 is the matching process and getting the baby.   

What it does not cover is the loss aspect for the adoptee and really excludes the mothers giving up their babies.  It does talk about the pain of infertility, I did not expect otherwise. But what is interesting in relation to the “not to tell’ concept is that in Part 3, if I remember correctly, the case worker asks the prospective mother whether it would be easier to tell the child the story of a young unwed mother, or a family that surrenders. So even in this film meant to encourage people to adopt, the concept of telling was discussed briefly.  There is also a discussion on adoptions through lawyers and the consequences when things go wrong.

I think people may be surprised that the Home Studies for state adoptions happened somewhat similar to todays Home Studies.  You can listen to the series without needing to actually watch it, if you have other things to do.  I found it interesting and not as bad as I feared it would be.


Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents


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25 responses to ““The Chosen Child – An Adoption Study” 1960’s

  1. Dannie

    July 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    can’t wait to watch it…will have to be in the evening after little one is in bed though


  2. Sarah

    August 3, 2011 at 2:57 am

    The portions of the home study in the videos are VERY similar to our homestudy.

    It seems like the adoption workers did care about the children’s best interests when placing.

    It is too bad that the babies had to be without a permanent home for so long though. And the parts showing the ‘unwanted’ children were heartbreaking.


  3. The adopted ones

    August 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Sarah I think they did care but this was also from the state like my adoption was for voluntary surrenders at birth. Plus the money was out of the equation and there was no advertising for mothers. Different attitudes. My state placed babies right away or as soon as a home was found, so the revocation period had to be different than NY which was 3 months I’m guessing. I also know some states did not place until they knew the baby was healthy – sigh.

    I just found it to be similar to what I have been told todays process it that is also deemed so different that what it was in my era by some people today.


  4. Jan

    August 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    It was heartbreaking to see the older children left behind. I have always been thankful to have been adopted so soon.

    I think New York’s revocation period was three months, because I was born in New York in Northern Westchester Hospital in 1955, and then adopted in Hartford, CT. I was in my adoptive parents’ home at the age of 3 months, and then adopted the next year. My adoption was through an agency, but considered a private adoption. There were relinquishment documents, and then a formal adoption took place afterwards.

    But I digress. I’m actually looking for a book called “The Chosen One” which my parents had read to us when we were little. I can find nothing about that now, and I wondered if you knew of it and where I might get a copy today. I don’t know the author, or even if it is still in print.


  5. The adopted ones

    August 3, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Welcome Jan,

    I think it might have been called Chosen Child? My memory is poor from my stroke so take everything with a grain of salt for accuracy. I know Shadow the other adoptee who occasionally creates a post but more often just comments has the book as we were talking about it and and I googled it and found out that you could still find copies. I think included Book name+1950’s+used. I will go and try and see if I can find the links again.


    • Jan

      August 3, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      Why thank you! I will take a look online. I really enjoyed listening to the stories you had on here. I am in the middle of a huge search for living family members, and believe me, it’s hard to find any. I have found one niece who is still alive, and we’re not talking elderly people here. Most of my siblings were in their 40s at their deaths! Anyway, learning about the procedure my parents endured to get two children through adoption is very interesting. My mother is not interested in sharing any information with us, so this “series” has been very good for me.


      • The adopted ones

        August 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm

        I like talking adoption and probably talk to much…glad you are finding some family. Have you had much success through Sorry to hear your siblings passed away in their 40’s – that’s really tough. It always breaks my heart that siblings – the relationship that lasts the longest is severed because of adoption. At least it is not as bad now as the old days. Both Shadow and I are 60’s babies…

        Your comments should always post automatically now although sometimes wordpress glitches.


  6. The adopted ones

    August 3, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Jan – The Chosen Baby by Valentina P Wasson


  7. Jan

    August 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Oh, I do, too! Adoption is my life now. My law office closed 2½ years ago and I haven’t found a permanent job since, so I do research now. On December 31, 2010, I got the name of my birth mother by paying the adoption agency $150 and I’ve done loads of research since. I don’t have my birth father’s name, but I think I know who he is, though. And I’ve researched my birth mother’s family back to 1707 on her mother’s side. Still working on her father’s side, but I’m in the late 1700s there. It’s been a trip, I’m telling you. But my main work has been to find living relatives to talk to, and I’ve missed two who died in 2010, a half-brother who died in July 2010 and an aunt who died in November 2010. Dang it! Just missed them both! But I found a niece, and we’re working from there out. She thinks that another of her uncles may still be alive, and that would be the only living half-brother I would have left. He hasn’t shown up in the SSDI yet, nor in any state death index, so I have hopes that he is still living. We’ll see. And I’ve done all of this through, and peoplesearch, and intellius. I’ve had some help from search angels, but they actually only provided me with information that I had prior to asking their help, so I figure I’m doing a pretty good job of it by myself. I still bounce stuff off of them, and they get me to help on some of their searches, so it works out. And, I have a woman up in Fairfield County, CT who knows my birth family, and her eldest sister was actually in my mother’s graduating class, so I’ve gotten lots of fun information regarding the family and the things they were good at, etc. More personal information that one wouldn’t get unless they knew the family. That’s provided a lot of comfort to me, for sure. Ancestry is good, but just calling state agencies, and calling the military, and all that stuff helps, too. I’ve made a lot of headway since January 1, 2011! I’ll get there in the end.


    • The adopted ones

      August 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      I was fortunate to have an aunt that knew about me so that was good. I have done my mothers side no ancestry and finally know my nationality…so much is lost to adoptees and it is just so wrong. I tried to learn about each place they lived and the era at that time to try to put context into the census data. Hours and hours spent on ancestry and other websites. Missing pieces.


  8. Jan

    August 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    So, how did you and Shadow get hooked up with the adoption study thing? Is this your baby or are you also visitors to the website? I’d love to hear your stories. I remember what it was like in the 1960s and the stigma surrounding adoption at that time. I was an elementary school student during most of that time. If you’d rather do this on personal email, my address is xxxxx. I’ll talk to absolutely EVERYONE about adoption! Yes, I’m an adoption junkie! Love to get my fix on people’s stories!


    • The adopted ones

      August 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      I nuked your email address as you will get spammed…something terrible – your comments come with your email so I might just take you up on it but it is close to my end of day now. Shadow and I met on a forum and over the years became friends. She is from way south and I from Canada but originally from the states, so we would never have met otherwise. We talked about a blog and I started this one and she contributes now and then – if you check the right side you can click on either “author” and view their posts.

      Keep talking and commenting. I am not always close to the computer but check in most days.


    • Michael Waggoner

      March 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      With notes compiled over a 70-year lifetime, I have just finished a book about having lived all three roles in the adoption triad and how unconditional love prevented or overcame so much potential adversity. Maybe you would like to rad the intro and give me your thoughts?


  9. Jan

    August 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Yes, there are hours and hours, how well I know! I can appreciate that. How nice for you that your aunt knew something about that. I, too, have an aunt (my adoptive mother’s sister) who I may just write to and see if she will talk to me. I’m sure she knows something, but I’m afraid that she will tell my mother, and then my mom will be angry with me. I’ve told her I did the search back in 1992 and then again last October, but she was not interested in helping me, so I’ve not told her anything since. She has no idea what I’ve found. She has no interest in my family. If I contact my Aunt Dot, that would likely be the end of any contact with mom. I’m not sure that’s worth the cost. Maybe . . . I’ve never been terribly close with my mother. We never got along. Everything is so negative in her life, and I don’t do negative well. My Aunt will not live forever, and if I’m going to try to learn anything from her, I need to do it soon. My mother is 88½ and my aunt is her younger sister by a year or two.

    Oh, my goodness! I have to get to the grocery store right now. I didn’t realize it was so late. I’ll email you when I get home.


  10. Jan

    August 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I’d like to get the opinions of the other bloggers here, and see what you all think about me contacting my aging aunt about my adoption. I’m assuming some of you are on the other side of the fence from me. Some insight is always helpful!


  11. Jan

    August 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I’d like to get the opinions of some of you other bloggers on this one. I’m sure you some of you are on the opposite side of the fence from me. What is your opinion about me contacting my aging aunt about any information about details of my adoption that she may have known?


  12. nnkato

    March 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    wow. Thanks again for the continuing education! I’m going to reblog this as well.


  13. nnkato

    March 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Reblogged this on the retarded owl and commented:
    again, thanks to The adopted ones for this post. Very interesting.


  14. Jessea

    January 22, 2015 at 12:02 am

    I am and adoptee born in 1960. My adoption/ life began in Florida and was finalized in New York. I had a wonderful childhood and continue to have a wonderful adulthood. Always a part of a loving family and now with a loving family of my own. The stories of those above who were able to get bio/medical history was to me, very positive. It has been difficult to give our son any bio history as we/I have no name(s) as a starting point. All are onboard with finding this information however, we are not sure where to begin. Any suggestions and or advise would be great.


  15. Pamela Pennington Tolle

    November 20, 2015 at 5:44 am

    I am looking for my sister born 1961 in upland .ca. in Orange County .she was adopted thru the dept of human services. My mother already had three children and was on assistance. She was forced into giving her up or loose all of her children. Is there somewhere I can look or post that I am looking for her.


    • TAO

      November 21, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Sorry, I didn’t see the comment. I will round up some links and post them for you.


  16. Tammy

    January 12, 2017 at 2:30 am

    I was curious to know how hard it was to adopt a child, 1950 Michigan? Did it cost a lot? Trying to figure out if my great uncle and aunt would have had the funds to adopt or if they daughter they had was their own. Can anyone point me in the right direction on how to find out if there was an adoption.



    • TAO

      January 12, 2017 at 4:16 am

      Tammy, my adoption a decade later was less than a couple hundred dollars. It depended on who you went through to adopt. Let me think and get back to you if I come up with suggestions.


  17. juliemcgue

    November 3, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Reblogged this on Julie Ryan McGue Author and commented:
    We were all told we were chosen…this is good.

    Liked by 1 person


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