Child Welfare League of America, Rating Sheet for Prospective Parents, 1962

This rating sheet was developed by the Child Welfare League of America as part of a publicity effort aimed at medical professionals. Child welfare leaders, especially in social work, had long tried to explain to their counterparts in medicine, law, and midwifery why they had no business making placements on their own: because adoption was a highly specialized procedure. The persistence of independent adoptions suggests that they were less than entirely successful, although adoption statistics indicate that the proportion of non-agency placements dropped to an all-time low around 1970. The criteria listed here also illustrate the therapeutic orientation of home studies during the postwar era. The emphasis was on evaluating applicants' emotional qualifications, but standards like "acceptance of sex roles" indicated that judgments of psychological health and illness were intimately related to normative (and rapidly changing) social prescriptions rather than fixed or objective truths established by science.

Some Criteria in Evaluating Couples Who Wish to Adopt a Child*

Total personality

Feelings about children

Family relationships

Basic love for children

Work adjustment

Ability to deal with developmental problems

Relationship with friends

Sensitivity to, and understanding and tolerance of, children's difficulties

Activities in community

Capacity to accept child as he is or may develop

Emotional Maturity

Feeling about childlessness and readiness to adopt

Capacity to give and receive love

Absence of guilt regarding infertility

Acceptance of sex roles

Mutual decision to adopt

Ability to assume responsibility for care, guidance, and protection of another person

Ability to tell child he is adopted

Reasonable emotional stability

Attitudes toward natural parents




Desire to have more nearly complete life

Ability to cope with problems, disappointments, and frustration

Desire to accept parental responsibility

Quality of marital relationship

Desire to contribute to development of another human being

Successful continuance of marriage not dependent on children

Desire to love and be loved

Respect for each other


Capacity to accept a child born to other parents


* Agencies select adoptive parents by evaluating applicants with respect to characteristics which seem desirable in persons capable of developing into parents who will meet an adoptive child's needs. Adoption agencies may have policies with regard to the age and religion of the adoptive parents; they may require that a prospective adoptive couple be married a certain period and may give preference to childless couples. Among the reasons for rejecting an adoption application may be the couple's advanced physical or mental illness, overemphasis on prestige, or wish to replace a lost child.




Source: “Rating Sheet for Prospective Parents” in “Special Report: Adoption,” Child Welfare League of America Papers, Box 16, Folder 1, Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

Page Updated: 2-24-2012
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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
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