Join our discussion: Adoption Coercion in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s

Tell us your thoughts: Unwed Mothers Exploited as a Source of Babies for Infant Adoption.

Click on the “quote” icon in the upper right corner to read the report.


7 thoughts on “Join our discussion: Adoption Coercion in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s

  1. ‘Unwed’ Mothers – Exploited as a Source of Babies for Infant Adoption
    Proof of Coercion

    Quotes from Adoption “Professionals”

    ” Unwed mothers should be punished and they should be punished by taking their children away.” – Dr. Marion Hilliard of Women’s College Hospital, Toronto. Daily Telegraph (November 1956)

    “To the Province generally the great advantage and economy of the Adoption Act can be realized when it is stated that many of the children before their adoption were costing five and six dollars a week for maintenance.” – 35th Report of the Superintendent of Neglected and Dependent Children (Ontario, 1928)

    “…. if an unmarried child gives birth to a baby, those circumstances alone ought to justify apprehension of the baby before the baby leaves the hospital unless the unmarried child mother can show that she has a viable plan for looking after and rearing her baby.” – “Board Review” for the Child Welfare System (Canada, 1983) [NOTE: no mention is made of ensuring that the mother has access to social assistance!]

    These quotes below were provided courtesy of Karen Wilson Buterbaugh of OriginsUSA:

    – Evidence of the consumer demand they fed by taking our babies, treating us as breeders:

    “… the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is to regard unmarried mothers as breeding machines…(by people intent) upon securing babies for quick adoptions.” – Leontine Young, “Is Money Our Trouble?” (paper presented at the National Conference of Social Workers, Cleveland, 1953)

    “. . . babies born out of wedlock [are] no longer considered a social problem . . . white, physically healthy babies are considered by many to be a social boon . . . ” (i.e. a valuable commodity..). – Social Work and Social Problems (National Association of Social Workers, 1964)

    “Because there are many more married couples wanting to adopt newborn white babies than there are babies, it may almost be said that they rather than out of wedlock babies are a social problem. (Sometimes social workers in adoption agencies have facetiously suggested setting up social provisions for more ‘babybreeding’.)” SOCIAL WORK AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS, National Association of Social Workers, (Out-of-print) copyright 1964

    How they justified the coercion and abductions:

    “When a worker can see that, had the unmarried mother wanted a baby for normal reasons, she would have fallen in love, married, and had a child under normal circumstances, the worker’s problem begins to resolve itself…” OUT OF WEDLOCK, Leontine Young

    “. . . women having out-of wedlock children tend to be rather disturbed people. While the American middle-class girl flouting the conventions by an illegitimate pregnancy may well be emotionally sicker than her English, working-class cousins.”- Jane Rowe, adoption social worker, 1950 – 1970

    “White girls who have illegitimate babies by coloured men are often emotionally ill as well as socially defiant.”- Jane Rowe, adoption social worker 1950 – 1970

    “An agency has a responsibility of pointing out to the unmarried mother the extreme difficulty, if not the impossibility, if she remains unmarried, of raising her child successfully in our culture without damage to the child and to herself …. The concept that the unmarried mother and her child constitute a family is to me unsupportable. There is no family in any real sense of the word.” Joseph H. Reid, Principles, Values, and Assumptions Underlying Adoption Practice, 1956 NAT’L CON. SOC. WORK.

    “The fact that social work professional attitudes tend to favor the relinquishment of the baby, as the literature shows, should be faced more clearly. Perhaps if it were recognized, workers would be in less conflict and would therefore feel less guilty about their “failures” (the kept cases).” – Social worker Barbara Hansen Costigan, in her dissertation, “The Unmarried Mother–Her Decision Regarding Adoption” (1964)

    “If the demand for adoptable babies continues to exceed the supply then it is quite possible that, in the near future, unwed mothers will be “punished” by having their children taken from them right after birth. A policy like this would not be executed — nor labeled explicitly — as “punishment.” Rather, it would be implemented through such pressures and labels as “scientific findings,” “the best interests of the child,” “rehabilitation of the unwed mother,” and “the stability of the family and society.” Unmarried Mothers, by Clark Vincent (1961)


    “Counselors must be trained to give women sound reasons that will counter the desire to keep their babies. One example is to reinforce the notion that it takes a strong, mature woman to place a child for adoption. Honestly addressing the issue of financial survival can be compelling as well. Counselors must communicate that adoption can be an heroic, responsible choice and that the child benefits tremendously …” – From The Missing Piece: Adoption Counseling In Pregnancy Resource Centers by Curtis J. Young. Family Research Council (2000).

    Related links to support, advocacy and action groups: OriginsUSA, Origins Canada, Trackers International (U.K.) and Origins Inc.

    • I will admit, it isn’t often I am rendered speechless, but when I read this report I didn’t know whether to scream, cry or faint! All I kept thinking was…How Dare They? How dare they deem me a “disturbed breeding machine?”

      In 1968, I was merely a 16 year old girl who fell in love with my boyfriend, who was just as scared and naive as I was. Then, unknowingly brainwashed and pressured by our “trusted” Pastor and Catholic Charities, my parents agreed that I should be sent away to surrender my precious daughter…guess my parents were naive, too! Naive to the conniving ways of the adoption agency.

      • So true … in 1939 my mother was a sweet Catholic girl in love with a Protestant boy … their parents colluded with the Catholic hospital staff to tell them I died. I found my mother and met her before she died. Shame on those who mistreated and lied to young mothers … our mothers!!

  2. Celeste, of all the lies that were told during those years, I strongly believe that telling a mom that her child had died was the most shameful!
    Sending comforting hugs your way.

  3. ! The social workers wait until the mother gets deathly ill and watches her die slowly over the years, telling the children the mother just didn’t want them, thats why the other mom had to recue that child, or they tell the unthinkable – shes dead! They still won’t have any remorse. To me, its like they’re playing God!! The social worker talks alot, every word a lie, thats why they take notes and reread so they don’t have to back pedal, cause they have learned the hard way. Those fake apologys just make them look more like the commpassionate ones for the baby and its mother.. Anyone can apologize, but they, do!!! Why??? They know that no one can do anything about it legally, morally, or any kind of way. We must some how intercede. Fake apologys just makes them look good to the public. I say, once an adoptor, always an adoptor ..Their script is to tell the adoptees to wait to decide and not to just go see their mother, that they could get hurt physically, they’re capable of anything…the fakers apologize knowing they’re free to say the baby died. (someones real mother) and baby( without a real mother) the long lie had a gamble of either party thinking they can wait (lie) for the socialworker, shes knows well how to coerce. -shes had a couple of( generation separation) I DON’T EVEN MIND YOUR FAKE LIES, ANYMORE -JUST FOREVER STAY AWAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I have a family mystery, surrounding my Uncle Larry Delaney
    Name Lawrence Delaney
    Birth Date 14 Jan 1931
    Birth Location Cook County, IL
    File Number 6001967
    Archive collection name Cook County Genealogy Records (Births)
    My Uncle was in the US Army from 1949-1970? During that time he married and had abt 4 children. The mystery is that they we taken away while he was overseas due to the birth mother having a mental illness. But that is all the info my mother and Aunt seem to remember. They do not remember her name. Only that she may have been from Ky and that my Uncle meet her and they married there. My Uncle was stationed at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. He lived there in hopes that the kids would someday reach out to him unfortunately he passed away in 1984. I have been looking for my cousins for ever! An have not really found any information or any leads for them. Also My Uncle remarried sometime after 1970 to a woman that was an American Indian from Oklahoma, again my mother and Aunt do not remember her name. When my Uncle passed he left some things to my father:
    10 Mar 1937 • Chicago Cook, Illinois
    Anton Peter Schmitt Jr (1937–1986) My father passed away and was unable to claim the things that my Uncle left to him. I believe it was his service revolver and a few other items with sentimental value.
    Weird and fishy, I do not know what the big secret is they are keeping from myself and my siblings. If you can help me find my cousins ad the items left to my father it would mean the world to me. Contact information is on my Facebook page. Thank you so much!
    Searching Always for the truth,
    Donna J Krieger

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