There seems to be a persistent myth that adoptive parents of my era (the BSE) were told by adoption professionals not to tell their child they were adopted. That just isn’t true and the sheer number of adoptees from my era who know they were adopted disprove it. Were there parents who didn’t tell their child? Yes. But that wasn’t because they were told by adoption agencies not to tell; they made a decision not to tell on their own, or they just kept putting off telling because it wasn’t the right time and the right time never came. Telling was the standard and widely practiced or there would be far more LDA’s (Late Discovery Adoptee) with the sheer number who do DNA tests now.
The above reasons are also the same reasons that some Adoptive Parents of today don’t tell either.
At least the agencies back then took adoption seriously, even if they made mistakes and didn’t have the knowledge readily available today because of studies. What passes as an adoption professional today often makes me shake my head and wonder how much education on raising an adoptee they actually require of their clients and how valid the information is.
Whatever the reason, I’m getting pretty tired of Adoptive Parents, Birth Parents and even some Adoption Agencies who trot out this misinformation that our folks were told not to tell. I don’t know why they do that, other than maybe to make people in adoption today look so advanced? Or maybe to explain away why some adult adoptees today struggle with being adopted other than the reality of the loss that happens with adoption?
If someone states that adoption professionals and agencies from before told adoptive parents not to tell the child they were adopted, ask them for historical documentation that was the case, call them out on it every single time.
I’m going to try to remember to do more posts like this from historical documentation to help dispel the pervasive myth and hopefully the adoption community and the adoption agencies that also seem to believe this, will change their ways. The report below also delves into the serious practice of home studies back then if you’re interested in that.
The report I have taken the clips below are from a book titled: “ADOPTION PRACTICES, PROCEEDURES AND PROBLEMS” A Report on the Second Workshop Held in New York City under the Auspices of The Child Welfare League of America May 10-12, 1951
The Baby Scoop Era (1947-1973) and The Child Welfare League was one of the drivers in establishing adoption and child welfare practices as far as I can tell.
This clip here on page 59 of the scanned document shows the focus on making sure the adoptive parents would tell the child they were adopted and even recommended the Chosen book.for telling the child they were adopted. The clip after (7.) is here on page 61 of the scanned document.
Post-placement clip below on reinforcing how to tell and to answer questions can be found here on page 62.
The final clip below can be found on page 73 here. They are the first 4 questions posed after the conference in relation to how the adopted child feels about being adopted and references the adoptees who returned to their agencies seeking information.