Category Archives: Jean Paon and Religion

Religion, Reunion, and Christian Adoption

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Although Paton did not subscribe to the New York Times, she kept up with its contents from correspondents, who frequently forwarded her pertinent stories concerning adoption and unmarried mothers. One clipping that was sent to her in October 1959 discussed the New York State adoption law, which required that a prospective adoptive couple profess a religion in order to adopt a child. Otherwise they, along with atheists and agnostics, would be turned down. The unintended consequence of the law, which was leading to conflict between the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the one hand and Jewish adoptive parent groups on the other, was that, when practical, a child would be placed only with persons of the same religion as the birth parents. The strict observance by Catholic welfare leaders of preserving the status quo resulted in childless Jewish parents being deprived of a chance to adopt a child because few Jewish women gave birth to children out of wedlock, and no agency would place a baby in a home of another religion.

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