Susan Pettiss to Rosalind Giles, February 8, 1957

Source: International Social Service, American Branch Papers, Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota

This was the photo Susn Pettiss described in her letter, of an older woman who had adopted by proxy.

The names of the adoptive mother and child described in this document have been changed.

February 8, 1957

Miss Rosalind Giles, Director
State Department of Public Welfare
Austin, Texas

Re: Mrs. Calder, Proxy Adoptive Mother

Dear Roz:

We wonder if we could ask your help in following up a situation which came to our attention and about which we have considerable concern. On January 15, 1957, the last group of children processed by International Social Service under the Refugee Relief Act came to New York by plane from Greece. All the children on this flight were for approved families for whom we had suggested the child, except one. The one was a proxy adoption carried out by an adoptive mother from Texas. She was most demanding and irritated that our consultants were not giving her attention and special help. She insisted that she did not have to follow procedure (i.e. immigration) that the other parents did because she had already adopted her child! The consultants who talked with her said she appeared to be drunk, and she appeared to be over 50 years of age. She made the comment at one point that she must be rushed through because she had another baby at home. She also commented that she wished she had adopted all of the babies. Although we realize this child has already been legally adopted, we think that this child may be in need of protection. In fact, it was the feeling of the consultants that this woman was not the type to keep the baby herself and that she may have in mind to give it to someone else.

On Mrs. Calder’s insistence, our photographer took her picture with the baby. As we have these pictures and also a copy of the parole notice, which is supposed to go to Mrs. Calder, we thought that you might take the opportunity to follow up the situation by giving these to her. We thought that it might be possible that your agency would already know of this woman. Unfortunately, we do not have her full name, but we do have the last name and address. The child’s adoptive name is Samantha Calder.

Sincerely yours,

(Mrs.) Susan T. Pettiss
Assistant Director


Source: Susan T. Pettiss to Rosalind Giles, February 8, 1957, International Social Service, American Branch Papers, Box 10, Folder: “ISS Adoption, 1955-1958,” Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

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