Monthly Archives: December 2009

Jean Paton at the “Red Tape Ceremony,” 1989

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.

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One Person Can Make a Difference

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.

Jean Paton’s Vacation, Dec. 1, 1960

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 and the ACC Conference Registration Incident (1991)

This is a photo of Jean Paton busily signing copies of her book Orphan Voyage at an American Adoption Congress (AAC) national meeting probably in the early 1990s.  Although Paton had the original idea for a national organization for adoption reform, which eventually turned into the American Adoption Congress, her subsequent relations with the organization were tumultuous.  Paton’s relationship with the AAC hit a low point in the early 1990s over the question of registering for the 1991 national conference in Garden Grove, California..  When Jean requested a table in the bookroom/exhibit area, the ACC Conference Registrar told her that requests for table reservations had to be accompanied by a paid conference registration.  The request angered Paton because 1) she had no plans to register and 2) she thought it an injustice to demand a paid registration from “the mother of the movement,” who had impoverished herself for the cause.  She threatened to carry her books on her back and if people asked why, she would reply that the AAC denied her a table.  The upshot: The AAC maintained its position; Paton attended without registering.

Jean Paton’s Christmas Letter for Single Mothers, Dec. 24, 1959

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.”