This is a photo of Jean Paton being presented by Don Humphrey and Joe Soll with a sealed “birth certificate” at the “Red Tape Ceremony” that took place at the 1989 AAC conference in New York. From left to right: Don Humphrey, the AAC’s legal adviser at the time; Nancy Horgan; Joe Soll, founder of AdoptionCrossroads; the ACC’s president Kate Burke, and, of course, Jean Paton. I am greatly indebted to Joe Soll, who identified the conference location, date, and all the folks in this photo.
This is a photo of Jean Paton’s cramped work space in Harrison, Arkansas, where she and her trusty typewriter communicated around the world with the adoption triad.
In these early days, Paton rarely took any time off, even though her friends urged her to take a vacation. But at age 51, on Dec 1, 1960, “a beautiful day” in the desert with warmth that made Paton, the Easterner, think of spring and its promise, she decided to take the advice and refrain from “writing a sober and complicated release on Petulant Plato or Freud Fulfilled.” Instead, after mailing this little note, she was going to:
“plant succulents, burn brush, prune junipers, rake away weeds, plan a studio-garage, tramp the acreage of Golden Hills [near Acton, California], and in general express the thankfulness we feel at least at this moment, but nonetheless a thankfulness that recurs and feels extremely secure.”
Jean Paton fired off what she called her “annual Christmas letter,” which was published by the Los Angeles Times on December 24, 1959, under the heading, “Remembered.” It began,
“In remembrance of today’s forgotten women, the one who has given her child to adoption, never to hear of him again.
To such mothers, to those who grieve, may I send assurance 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.
Those of us, who are less than perfect can never understand the reason for this lifelong punishment for what is, often enough, scarcely a sin, certainly not the mortal one.”
Jean Paton delighted in growing vegetables and flowers, which she took up in earnest for the first time in Ojai, California in the late-1950s. Jean spent hours in her garden, cultivating sweet peas, Swiss chard, beets, lettuce, and broccoli, as well carnations and roses. Such activities would remain a life-long pursuit. This photo is unidentified but it is probably taken in the backyard of Jean’s home in Harrison, Arkansas, during the summer. It looks as if Jean is inspecting the tomato patch.