Adoptions in the US around the 1930s #dna #general

Adam Turner

Was it ever common around the 1930s for families that had adopted a baby to announce their child's arrival as if it was an ordinary birth?

I am researching an unexpected match in a number of cousins' DNA results. The ethnicity analysis suggests that this person likely has one, but not two, Jewish biological parents, and the strength and pattern of their matches suggests extremely strongly that this person is indeed a biological relative of our family. They were born in 1936 and appear to have been raised in the US state of Georgia by parents who were likely both Baptists. (Much of my family also lived in Georgia in 1936, although mostly not in the part of the state where this person was raised.)

Until I succeed at contacting this person's family, I am trying to gather as much information as I can on my own. One of the things I'm trying to figure out is whether I can narrow down the candidates for the person's possible parent in our family by determining whether that parent is likelier to be male or female. So I'm looking at two main possibilities: an extramarital affair involving the person's mother (suggesting the link is a male cousin in my family) or a baby being given up for adoption (suggesting that the link to my family might well be a female cousin). If I can be pretty confident that this isn't an adoption situation, I can zero in on one of the male cousins as the probable link.

The curious thing is that today I came across a couple of newspaper items that likely involve this person's family. One is apparently of a baby shower for the person's mother, given by their Baptist church. The other, about five weeks later, announced their birth.

So what I'm wondering is: was it a thing back then, especially in the US South, to have showers and birth announcements for adoptive parents? Or does the mere fact that these happened suggest that it's unlikely that a new addition to the family was adopted?

There's a second, particularly fascinating wrinkle involving this genetic genealogy mystery, but I'll save it for a follow-up.

Eva Lawrence

Even much later, in the 1950s, there were families who were anxious not to tell an adopted child that it wasn't theirs. A newspaper announcement seems a bit extreme, but they may have wanted to make sure the neighbours didn't spoil the illusion. I've known families move because an adoption was locally known. 
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.

Deanna Levinsky <DEANNASMAC@...>

 I agree. There was a stigma associated with adoption. We’ve come a long way Thank G-d
Deanna M. Levinsky, Long Island, NY

Nicole Heymans

When searching for adoptees' potential biological relatives, DNAGedCom is an absolute must.
Unlike GedMatch which requires downloading raw data by contributors, this site collects matches (rather than raw data) directly from FTDNA, 23andMe etc. and numbercrunches it. This means it includes data from samples from all those disappointed by their DNA findings, or deceased, who are unresponsive.

Keep safe;

Nicole Heymans, near Brussels, Belgium


I have some thoughts for you if you would like to connect privately. I am not sure how to contact you however. 

Phil Karlin

I found relatives who got pregnant before they were married in 1934. They put the baby up for adoption then married 3 months later. I can't imagine anyone doing that today.

Phil Karlin
Hartford, CT

Sarah L Meyer

Many years ago I tried to use DNAGedCom and it blew up because I had so many Jewish matches (all 4 of my grandparents were Jewish).  So try it but be aware that if there are a lot of matches it may crash your system.   Unfortunately we Jews have fewer records, and shorter surname history - and more matches than the non-Jews.
At that time, I sent a message to the administrators requesting that they let me know when their site would work for Ashkenazi Jews.  I have never heard back from them.

Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania

Adam Turner

Thanks to those who took the time to carefully read and respond to the specific question I posed.

Here is the additional bit I alluded to in my first message:

Virtually none of my family on this side lived in Atlanta in the mid-1930s. Most either lived in far southern Georgia or northern Florida, with a handful of branches outside of those two states. The only occasions when I think it was typical for them to be in Atlanta were when they were either there briefly on business (they may have made buying trips there to stock their clothing stores, although my sense is that it was more typical for them to go to New York for this purpose) or when they were there to attend college. 
There is one member of my family who I know lived around there at this time. She was born in 1909 and sometime in the early 1930s, she and her husband moved to a town about 35 miles outside of Atlanta. From my prior research, I knew that in 1936, she had childbirth-related complications (eclampsia) from her first delivery that eventually caused her death after a hospital stay of about six weeks. I have the death certificate for her premature baby, who only lived a day or so, and her own, from about three weeks later.
I went back and looked at the certificates this week, and realized that all of this ordeal happened in the same Atlanta hospital where my Mystery Baptist DNA match's birth announcement says that they were born. The timeline went something like this (I am intentionally obscuring the actual exact dates for privacy reasons):
April 1936: my relative enters the hospital
May 17: her baby is delivered
May 18: her baby dies
June 3: she dies, as well
June 11: The Atlanta Constitution runs a personal item apparently about a baby shower for the Mystery Baptist's mother, thrown by members of her church
July 27: the same newspaper runs another personal item announcing Mystery Baptist's birth on July 23.
I found one study on preterm pre-eclampsia that suggests that it is about nine times more common in the cases of multiple pregnancies than with singletons. So while some number-crunching suggests I should still be very cautious before assuming multiple births in this case, I am wondering if what happened could have been something like this: 
My relative was actually carrying twins. She delivered them prematurely, and one could not be saved. The other twin was the Mystery Baptist, and against all odds, they survived despite their mother's death. But her husband, in his grief, could not cope with the idea of being a single father. In the days after her death, he opted to give the surviving child up for adoption. The hospital and adoption agency informed MB's adoptive parents, and after a brief interval to plan the particulars, their church friends threw a shower for them. A month or so later, MB was thriving well enough to be brought home, and that is when they announced the birth in the newspaper. 
(Another piece that may support this adoption hypothesis is that as far as I can tell, the Mystery Baptist is an only child. Their parents married in 1930 and at least by the time of the 1940 census, it doesn't appear that they had any other children.)
A fascinating coincidence at least! Unfortunately, there are several significant facts (particularly, the details of the available DNA evidence) that cast doubt on this adoption scenario being how it really happened.