Blog Archives

Jean Paton’s aunt, Viola


In 1955, Paton hired a private investigator for $35.00 to find her mother. The investigator found her mother’s sister, Viola, who was still living at the old family address in Michigan, with her husband and a child.  Paton then went off to Michigan on one of her fieldtrips to interview adopted adults but also to initiate the reunion with her first mother.  Jean met Viola, who ventured to act as an intermediary, contact Jean’s mother through a neighbor’s phone, and get back to her the following day.  The rest is history, as they say.  See next photo.

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Jean Paton’s reunion with her first mother

JP_with_motherEmma

Jean Paton, age 47 met her first mother, Emma Steiner, nee, Cutting age 69, on a spring-like day in early March 1955.  Paton’s reunion with her mother, which she described as a “strange and potent experience,” made a deep and lasting impression on her.  To one correspondent, she wrote, it was “wonderful beneath knowing,” to find one’s mother; as there was “no more specters, no more fantastic living, no more paralysis of will for avoiding the deepest desire of nature.”  Paton also universalized her reunion with her mother, making it the basis for advice she gave to correspondents who sought her help.  This photo was probably taken in Florida, where Emma moved in retirement with her husband Eddie Steiner, some years after the reunion.  (Yes, Emma was short: she was only 4’9″).