“The adoption reunion experience is like water in the desert—scarce, desired, fought for. The adoptive search, when guided by sufficient balance and understanding, can enable a Seeker to become well in an age of illness and anxiety.” —Jean Madeline Paton, Mother of the Adoption Reform Movement.
Jean Madeline Paton, author and herself an adoptee, is the “Mother of the Adoption Reform Movement.” She was highly active during a time in American history when closed adoptions were the norm. She lobbied congress and worked tirelessly to protect and expand the rights of adoptees. She believed adoptees and birth parents had a God-given-right to reconnect with their lost, and tirelessly promoted adoption reunions as natural, healthy, appropriate and beneficial events.
She was a visionary search activist who presented her rationales for why adoptees and birth mothers should search: 1) the equality of all citizens; 2) the self-determination of individuals; 3) and adoptees’ emotional need for a curative and breakthrough reality that would finally make sense out of their disrupted life stories. Above all, she insisted that adoptees were not “permanent children” in need of lifelong supervision and protection. They were responsible, mature adults, fully capable of making their own decisions about search and reunion.
Jean Paton’s vision of an independent, voluntary adoption registry through which natal relatives might be reunited dates to an article she wrote in 1949, making it one of the earliest such suggestions in the documentary record. Mutual consent registries proliferated after 1975.
To birth mothers who grieved she sent assurances that not everyone had forgotten them, especially not their children, many of whom when grown, think of them with growing wisdom and in the spirit of forgiveness. She believed that birth mothers and adoptees who experience the grief of separation from kith and kin can never understand the reason for this lifelong punishment.
Jean Paton provided me with much needed encouragement during the initial phase of my adoption search, and enthusiastically supported the writing of my memoir recorded in the book Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child. Jean and I gave public presentations to Rotary International and others highlighting the difficulties, fears, emotional depths, and barriers encountered by seekers, as well as, the joys, benefits and appropriateness of adoption reunions. Her legacy will be long-lasting. She was a grand lady, a tireless worker, a prolific writer, and wonderful human being. I applaud author E. Wayne Carp for recording and sharing her story with others.
Adoption Search | Adoption Reunion | Parenting & Relationships | Adoption Detective
Reunion Adopción | Adopción Detective | Adopción Buscar | Adopción Historia