I was researching something I was writing today when I came across a compelling article by Pearl S. Buck “The Children Waiting: The Shocking Scandal of Adoption,” published in the September 1955 issue of Woman’s Home Companion. 1955 was after World War II and the Korean War. During both those conflicts there had been many American troops stationed in Asia who, as the euphemism put it, “had needs.” The needs of the Asian women who satisfied them mattered less, and many were left behind with child.
At that time adoptions were handled largely by sectarian religious institutions and the children were placed into families that “matched” them in terms of race, religion, and other characteristics. This meant a lot of children, especially those of mixed race parents, were simply not adoptable. They spent their lives in institutions until they could fend for themselves.
Buck saw the injustice of this. Moreover, having adopted several children herself, she new that not all potential parents shopped for children as if they were furniture or shoes.
Two babies came [to me] from adoption agencies, where they were considered unadoptable because it was difficult to find adoptive parents to “match” them. I was sure that there must be good families, matching or not, who could love these babies and indeed there were. . . .