“Children's Story Needs an Ending . . . Adoption Could Make It So!” 1956

Source: Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency, available in Andrew Billingsley and Jeanne M. Giovannoni, Children of the Storm: Black Children and American Child Welfare (New York: Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich, 1972), 174.

Adoptive parents and a staff member of the Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency in New York, one of the first in the country to set out to find black homes for black children.

This is a sample of publicity material used by the Baltimore City Department of Public Welfare in the mid-1950s to encourage African-American couples to adopt African-American children.

Take a minute or so to listen to this story—a children’s story that needs an ending.

It began in the Adoption Department of this agency when an applicant for adoption for Charles Allan M. was made before he was born. That was two years ago.

Charles Allen at age eight days was placed directly from the hospital in an agency foster home. For the first six months of his life he was studied closely to see how well he could use adoption. His social worker took him for monthly clinic check-ups. He got his shots; he had his psychological tests. And even on the first day he performed way above average. At seven months, Charles Allan was a bouncing, chubby baby trying to take his first steps. Legally he had been released for adoption and would have been ready to go; except that there wasn’t anybody to adopt him.

He is only one of the 42 Negro babies in the agency’s pre-adoptive foster care program faced with the same fate. None of these children has a family. What they need is a permanent home, a mother and father for keeps. All that the future holds for them now is life in a foster home or homes, not really belonging to anybody. This story could go on and on—3 year old Allison who has had as many homes as birthdays; a bundle of 18-month old energy named “lou” full of get up and go; dainty, 6-month old Pat, wide-eyed and adorable. Infants, crawlers, toddlers, self-sufficient 5 year olds. Each has that one big need and so much to give.

Could you stop by the Adoption Department on the third floor? Talk to the workers. Get a first-hand account of the real plight of these forgotten babies. Could you spread the word among your friends and church groups or club meetings? Talk it up and don’t let requirements for adoptive parents loom so overpowering. Children have been placed with college professors, clerks and laborers. Let the interested party know all that’s necessary to begin is a phone call to the Adoption Department here (Extension 346).

The only ending for this story is the timeless one, “and they lived happily ever after”. That means adoption for these babies—the right to the secure sound feel of “my mother” and “my father”. Children have a way of crawling up under your heart. They can’t be shut out. Would you help?


Source: “Children's Story Needs an Ending . . . Adoption Could Make It So!,” 1956, Child Welfare League of America Papers, Box 17, Folder 10, Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

Page Updated: 2-24-2012
Site designed by:

To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3118
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
About the Project and the Author
© Ellen Herman