International Social Service Memo, “Telephone Calls Concerning Adoption,” 1957

This internal memo summarized the questions that many potential adoptive parents (known as PAPs) had about international adoption.

1. PAPs often ask what are the qualifications needed to adopt a foreign child: Explain that the qualifications are the same as for adopting a local child. Also explain the role and way of working of ISS as an international agency, working through local agencies and through its Branches abroad. Applications should be made in writing giving the basic information (names, age, address, occupation and religious denomination, and stating what kind of child the PAPs have in mind in terms of nationality). Point out that the agency’s aim is to find a suitable home for a child, rather than a suitable child for the client’s home. Religious qualifications and special problems such as personality defects, or sickness, have to be handled by the local agency since the regulations vary from state to state.

2. Jewish Applicants: Ninety per cent of the telephone calls come from Jewish parents. There are no Jewish children available in Europe or Israel. Israeli government appeals in behalf of children in orphanages but will not release them out of the country. It is necessary to explain the situation in a positive way, pointing out the strong family ties in the Jewish culture. Explain the need for homes for Korean-American children who are available and could be considered since they have not been baptized and the father and mother in most cases are unknown. Wording of such suggestion has to be careful since it might be felt as discrimination by those Jewish people who themselves, feel that a half-Asian child is somehow regarded as “inferior.”


Source: Group Consultation, Subject: Telephone Calls Concerning Adoption, December 3, 1957, International Social Service, American Branch Papers, Box 12, Folder: “Group Consultation Meetings,” Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

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