forum Adoption story set in 1890s
Started by @FictionWriter09 group

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@FictionWriter09 group

Writing a story set in 1890s Maine where the character finds out he's adopted? how would adoption work back then would there have been original birth records? it was an in-family adoption the information is found out years later by the child.


ooh not to be a history nerd on main but I think it mainly depends on the social status and location of the participants and the exact circumstances of the adoption! (Just to clarify - this is in America? and when you say that it's set in the 1890s, does that mean the adoption happened then and was discovered later, or the adoption is discovered in the 1890s? that might make a difference)

I can recommend this article as a look into adoption laws of the time - you mentioned it was a family adoption, so the class, location and status of your characters is super important here! for example if they're urban middle class fighting out a Big Family Feud they'd be more likely to take it to family court than members of an isolated rural first-generation immigrant community, if that makes sense.

That would also affect their presence in birth registrations - birth records have been kept in some form (usually in church registers) for a really long time, esp. for census and tax purposes, and right around the mid to late 1800s there were calls in America to keep more formalised birth statistics, for medical research and to understand things about the rapidly growing immigrant population. The first standardised birth certificate to be used on a federal level was developed in 1900, though there was legislation in various states about local record-keeping as early as the 17th century. so if the descendants are looking through external records, you'd want to have a specific location and then look up what registration was like there at the time, which you could probably easily find in the context of ancestry research online.

of course, if your descendants are looking through their own family records to find this info, then who they are would also determine what kind of records they keep. What's the literacy like? How are they involved in the legal and economic structures of their community - a lawyer who went to university and wants to form new business partnerships in the city probably has more extensive paperwork than a butcher in a small town. more informally than paperwork, they also might be able to find the info in diaries or letters, or if people who witnessed the adoption process talk to them about it.

asdfkjds this was a lot of words but I hope it was somewhat helpful!

@FictionWriter09 group

@ninja_violinist oh please by all means feel free to be a history nerd on main, I'm a bit of one myself. To clarify yes it is in America they are a more wealthy family. And yes I mean the adoption happened in the 1890s and wasn't discovered until decades later Basically, there are two sisters Elizabeth and Maggie who fall in love with brothers from a wealthy family J.T & Stephen. Elizabeth & J.T get married but she's too ill to have children when Maggie gets pregnant with Stephen's baby Elizabeth takes advantage and gets Maggie into passing the baby off as hers and J.T's since he's always away on business it's not hard to fool him.

That was probably way more than you wanted to know…

But yes you were helpful and very interesting. Thank you.

Mt. G router

As @ninja_violinist outlined, adoption in the 1890s was not as regulated as it is today, and the records of the process were not as thorough. However, there were some ways in which adoption was recorded and documented.

One common form of adoption in the 1890s was known as "informal adoption." This was when a child was taken in by a family member or close friend and raised as their own, without any legal paperwork or formal process. In this type of adoption, there would not have been any official records kept.

However, in some cases, there may have been legal adoptions, especially if the child was being adopted by someone outside of the family. In these cases, there may have been some paperwork filed with the local courthouse or town hall.

If your character is trying to track down their biological parents or any information about their adoption, there are a few avenues they could explore. They could try to find any legal records related to their adoption, such as court filings or adoption agency records (if an agency/church/etc was involved). They could also try to track down any family members who may have known about the adoption or have information about the biological parents, or maybe track down employees of whatever group facilitated the adoption. Someone has to know, somewhere!

@FictionWriter09 group

@ It's, informal adoption basically the mother's sister couldn't have kids and convinced her sister to give her the baby (the men were away on business for the pregnancy) and act like it was her biological child, and it was kept secret to save reputations…and other things,

Anyway the plan was for the truth not to come out until both after those who who knew are dead (Which was the two women, the household staff and doctor), I want it to be like a kind of slow mystery. The child, finding some piece of evidence that thinggs aren't what they seem, and than the father finds out, and it turns into this journey of having to figure out why did She hide the truth, and how much she actually did care but had no choice (or so she thought) and the two learning to bond over her,