The failure of Alice R.’s
family to recognize her mental defect and to agree to her placement
in an institution for the feeble-minded was responsible for her
remaining in the community following the birth of her first child.
Three other children were born to her, all four being of illegitimate
birth. When she was illegitimately pregnant for the fifth time she
was arrested for adultery and sent to the reformatory, and was later
transferred to an institution for the feeble-minded.
In spite of Alice’s history her four children were offered
for adoption through a newspaper advertisement and were given by
the overseer of the poor to a woman who lived in the neighborhood.
Within a few months the two older children, a girl of 6 and a boy
of 8 years, were removed from this home. The girl was placed in
an institution and the boy was taken by relatives, but within less
than two years he was sent to an institution for problem boys. The
two younger children, boys of 2 years and 10 months, were adopted
by Mrs. A. After they had been in the A. home for about two years
Mrs. A. decided that she wanted to get rid of them, and a private
agency that had been interested in the family from the time of the
mother’s arrest was instrumental in having them committed
to the board of children’s guardians. Mr. and Mrs. A. were
both of limited intelligence and unstable, and had a mania for taking
children. The board of children’s guardians had placed the
children in a number of family homes prior to the time of the study.
Only a few months after their commitment Mrs. A. found where they
were and took them home with her. The board allowed her to keep
them under supervision, but at the end of three months they were
placed in another foster home. Mr. and Mrs. A. tried repeatedly
to get the board of children’s guardians to release the children
from supervision, but their request was not granted.