Indian Adoption Project Evaluation, 1958 through 1967

A total of 395 Indian children have been placed for adoption through the Indian Adoption Project as of December 31, 1967. One hundred nineteen of the children were placed in 1967, compared with 67 in 1966 and 49 in 1965. Of all the children placed, one child died prior to adoption, and two children had to be returned to their home state because the placement failed. . . .

Major Accomplishments of the Project

One can no longer say the the Indian child is the “forgotten child,” as was indicated when the Project began in 1958. As already reported, resources for the adoption of Indian children have been developed in 26 states and on territory of the United States. The adoption needs of Indian children have been well publicized through a variety of national media, and over the years the League has referred well over 5,000 prospective adoptive families for Indian children to agencies in every state in the Union. The Indian child’s reception in the East has been primarily one of “sentiment for our first Americans.” The prejudice which prevented his adoption in his own state has greatly decreased, due mainly to the receptivity of families in other states to adopt him. This reaction has caused social agencies in the child’s home state to take a “new look” at the Indian child’s adoptability with the result that many more Indian children are being placed for adoption in their own state. . . .

Major Problems of the Project

1. Adoption services for families wanting to adopt Indian children are not available in all states. This lack of service usually extends to families wishing to adopt any out-of-state child, including the foreign child. The rationale, as stated by social agencies, is that their first obligation is to serve children who are residents of the state. As a direct result of this, in one area these families organized themselves into an adoptive parent group for minority children. This resulted in more adoption service and three families have now adopted Indian children.

2. Many more children could have been placed for adoption in 1967 had they been on referral to our Project. All year the Project has had from 50 to 65 approved adoptive families on referral, with far fewer children referred. There are still many Indian children needing adoption who have not been referred to our Project. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and state departments of welfare need to have frequent periodic reviews of Indian children in foster care to make sure that those children who, in essence, are without parents receive services to make them eligible for adoption.


Source: “The Indian Adoption Project—1958 through 1967—Report of Its Accomplishments, Evaluation and Recommendations for Adoption Services to Indian Children,” pp. 1, 6, 8, Child Welfare League of America Papers, Box 16, Folder 2, Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

Page Updated: 2-24-2012
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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) 346-3699
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