Buck’s popularity, her article criticizing agency social workers,
sectarian institutions, and the reigning matching
paradigm attracted a great deal of attention, including a letter
of protest from Joseph Reid, the Executive Director of the Child
Welfare League of America.
Two babies came [to me] from adoption agencies, where they were
considered unadoptable because it was difficult to find adoptive
parents to “match” them. I was sure that there must
be good families, matching or not, who could love these babies and
indeed there were. . . .
Yet I continue acutely and constantly aware of the thousands of
children waiting. . . . These are the citizens of
my new world, the children without parents and the parents without
children, pressing eagerly toward each other, and yet unable to
reach each other. A barrier stands between, a high wall, and in
the middle of the wall is a narrow gate, kept locked until a social
agency unlocks it a little way and lets one child through at a time. . . .
Nobody knows truthfully how many children are in our orphanages.
There are many kinds of orphanages but the largest number belong
to religious groups. It was once necessary, I do not doubt, for
religious orders to care for orphans, but certainly that day is
past. Parents are waiting to adopt them. True, it would be very
difficult to close these orphanages, not because of the children
but because of vested interests. . . .
The rights of natural parents over children must be defined. Children
are not property, but they are considered so under our laws. . . .
There is no magic in blood relationship when parents alienate their
children by neglect or desertion. Yet under our laws and our customs
blood still takes precedence, blood instead of the reality of love. . . .
The human qualities of love and understanding and acceptance alone
should decide the fate of a child rather than race and religion.
Where all else is equal, of course similarity in race and religion
is good but human destiny should not be based on these two elements. . . .
I venture to say, were the dead hands of neglectful relatives removed,
were the divisive and possessive jealousies of religious groups
replaced by the spirit of true religion. . .that nearly
all children, at least up to the age of 12, would be easily adoptable.
No, when I think of teen-age boys and girls I see children still
hungry for home and parents and I withdraw the age limitation.
And how. . .could we ever get so many children adopted
when our social agencies cannot cope with what we have? I submit
a controversial answer. It could be done if the red tape of adoption
procedures were eliminated and only essentials kept. There are,
I am sure, sincere and unselfish social workers and religious persons
in the field of child welfare and adoption who honestly believe
that they are doing the best that can be done, unaware that they
themselves are the hindrances because they are faithful to red tape
and encrusted in tradition. . . .
There is a surplus of children but the parents who are waiting
are prevented from adopting them. . . . Let no small
arguments be raised here. It is idle to retort, for example, that
adoptive parents usually want a perfect child, that most children
are not perfect, and so on. They can be helped to want a handicapped
children, a child of mixed origin, or any child at all. . . .
We can tear down the walls that keep them prisoners of red tape,
prejudice and religious division. . . . We can refuse
to accept the excuse that there are not enough children to satisfy