White House Conference Subcommittee Discussion of “Adoption,” 1959

Adoption should be considered for any child who has been permanently separated from his natural parents, who is or should be made legally free, who needs and can benefit by family life. No child should be denied a permanent home because of age, religion, national origin or race. The majority of children are adoptable and this applies also to children with handicaps. . . .

Community Responsibility for Adoption

“Society in general is concerned with every adoption and has a responsibility to protect all concerned.” Joseph H. Reid.

Adoption is still one of the most controversial fields in social work, though it has become an accepted part of our culture. In order to extend adoption services to every child who needs them it is essential that:

(1) there be broader public understanding of the goals and practices of social agencies.

(2) there be honest self-examination by every community of the adequacy of its services for unmarried mothers and children in need of adoption and the strengthening of such services. Community organization to involve both professional and lay citizens is needed for this purpose.

Supervision by the State either directly or through social agencies of every child placed for adoption is a necessary safeguard for the welfare of children too young to participate in this permanent decision as to their family life.

Regulation to check unsupervised placement of babies through the black and grey market is necessary. Such legislation to be effective must however be accompanied by meeting the need for timely services to the natural parents, the child and the adoptive parents. No legislation directed to protecting infants can be effective unless it is complemented by both adequate and timely services.


Source: White House Conference Subcommittee Discussion, “Adoption,” pp. 1, 4, Justine Wise Polier Papers, Box 46, Folder 570, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

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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
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
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