Does anyone know about ANY home for unwed mothers operating in Kansas City, MO during 1954? Florence Crittenden perhaps? Thanks. All emails answered.
:) Last night I stayed up until 4 am looking over all my papers
from my adoption and I found a site that had a article from the
sunday tribune magazine dated july 2, 1950 and it listed 4 homes
for unwed mother in downtown Kansas city, mo and the florence
crittenton home was one of them that was listed. It did say that
the women who came to the crittenton home were girls that
couldnt afford to pay much for stay at a home were usually
referred to the crittenton home. I also was born in 1954 and
I have a copy of my social history that was whited out because
of Mo law sealed records. I do know that I was born at the
old general hospital by the address on the birth certifcate.
Hope this is some help to you.
I was in Flo Crit KC in 1962-63 and have done a fair amount of research over the last 20 years.
The 1950 article you mention about 'girls who couldn't afford to pay much' being referred to Crittenton. There were plenty of girls there from middle class and above families. I believe because Crit was a United Way recipient - receiving public money and donations - they had to take some girls who 'could not afford to pay'. I distinctly remember one very young girl -13, I believe- who showed up after we read an article in the paper that a bunch of 'children were removed from their mother and the oldest who was pregnant was being sent to the local Florence Crittenton.' (The Willows, by contrast, was totally privately owned, ie, no public money coming their way.)
Girls at Crittenton worked at jobs in the home, laundry, nursery, kitchen, making formula as well as paying $15 a week room & board and $100 for delivery. The non-payers worked jobs even if they didn't pay anything else.
The home was located at 225 W. 43rd st at Wornall Road. I don't know how long it had been there but there were several earlier locations around KC since a Home opened near the riverfront around 1900. The original purpose of Crittenton founder (named in honor of his 4 years daughter who died) was to give prostitutes from the Hell's Kitchen area of NY City an alternative to their lifestyle. This was the 1880's. Many of the women were pregnant and had no where to go. Interesting note: until the 1920's and 30's while Crittenton and Kate Waller Barrett were in charge, Crittenton policy did not allow women to stay there if they were not keeping their babies. It was believed that learning to be responsible and care for their baby would keep women out of further trouble. They were given training to earn a living as well. This is taken from the book, 50 Years Work With Girls by Crittenton and Barrett.
There was also a 'black' Crittenton Home on Campbell St. in KC. My roommate ended up there for a short time because ( for some reason) it was the only Crittenton listed in the Yellow Pages. Actually, that was where my mother called first and we were directed to the 'white' Home. My roommate was quickly transferred to our location and her experience made for interesting discussion. She told me that the girls there 'had to keep their babies because there was no demand for black babies.'
Babies were delivered at the Home by residents from St. Lukes right behind Crit. (43rd St.) Birth certificates were signed by Leonard Wall although he never delivered any babies while I was there. Perhaps a full-fledged doctor had to sign the birth certificates. I believe his office was located in the Med Bldg. right across Wornall from the back entrance to St. Lukes, also kitty-corner to Crittenton. Space for 'place of birth' is blank on the amended certificate, but says 'Florence Crittenton Home' on the original copies. Space for 'father' is also blank on the original too. It is possible that if the name was placed on a legal document, he would have had right to refuse to sign for adoption. Whatever the reason, no father's names appear on original certificates.
Just a bit of Crittenton history. Lynn
hi Lynn,
I would love to hear everything you know about the Florence Crittenton homes, especially the 1950's and 60's. My husband was adopted in Chattanooga, Tn. in 1957 and we believe his ** stayed at the FC home there, but was from Georgia. I am very interested in what these homes and adoption were like back then.
Since I was in Crit in 62-63, I will have to speak for that time period from my own experience. I have talked to so many girls in Crittentons all across the country and the experiences are strikingly similar. Staff said the same things in nearly all places, 'give up your baby & get on with your life; go on and forget; you will have more children', also ' you don't have to tell anyone you ever had a baby' and 'no nice boy will want to marry you if you tell about the baby'.
Some homes were a bit more restrictive than KC, for instance, Charleston (SC), I believe, was one who took girls out in groups, almost like a tour bus thing. That seems really dumb, if annonymity was an issue. And in the 60's, we were told that keeping our stay and baby a secret was very important. So going out in groups just seems stupid to me. I mean, where would a bunch of young, pregnant girls come from anyway?
KC was not a big Home - less than 25 girls capacity, I'm certain,but by early 63 they were converting an old lounge to more rooms. When you first came, they always put a girl in the Big Dorm which had 10 or 12 beds lined up in 2 rows on each side of long narrow room. I had about 2 feet between my bed and the girl on either side of me. Our clothing was kept in built in wooden closets not much larger than school lockers. I suppose they put us newcomers all together as a way to keep us from being so alone. Didn't work for me. I'll never forget after my mother left - that was the only time they allowed any girl's family past the front lobby - how I just sat on my bed feeling so abandoned and alone and wanting to cry. But I didn't, just sucked it up and dealt with it. That is how I have gotten through life ever since. Of course, the other girls were friendly enough but I knew I was going to be there for a long time (6 months) and it felt like entering prison.
After a girl got adjusted to being there, and as others delivered and left, we were moved to a 2 or 3 person room. You didn't get to choose roommates, they were assigned. My first roommate was a 17 year old Oklahoma City girl whom I really liked. When she had her baby in mid October, I ended up with a 20 year old bleached blonde who wore a black 'wig hat' (didn't really look like hair to me, but she wore it) when she went out so she wouldn't be recognized. She was nice but we saw little of each other.
My first job was laundry, mostly washing sheets and towels from all the beds. It wasn't bad but I wanted to work the nursery with the babies and I got that job by October and took care of lots of babies in 3 or 4 months. By the new year, I was tired of babies and asked to be put on kitchen duty which was helping make meals.
We had a routine that varied little. Weigh in once a week on Wednesday for which I learned (from my mother) to starve myself for a day or so before weigh in and then went to eat somewhere outside the Home. My mother told me that I couldn't come back home if I gained too much weight!! Exams were also on Wednesday in a room in the lower level. You put a robe on and waited on a metal folding chair until you were called. We went once a month up until the last month, then it was every week. I believe there were vitamins available on tables but I never took them. Meals were not particularly interesting because the director always sat at some table and I hated it if I happened to be at that table she chose. She loved the limelight and talked alot. I just wasn't interested in what she had to say.
There was a regular once a week craft type of class put on by some women's group. I guess we were their charity work. I never went because I had no interest in being a Crittenton poster girl. At Christmas that group made green flannel bags with red ties that had stuff in it, makeup, that sort of thing. My mother would not let me keep the bag because she didn't want me to keep anything connected with the Crittenton Home after I left. I did take one thing, however, which I still have: a hymnbook that we used at chapel. I played piano for singing and I wanted that book. I hid it from my mother.
Speaking of Christmas, on Christmas Eve after we had our little celebration at the Crittenton lounge, my mother came to get me about 9 or 10 pm and took me to the house to let me have my Christmas presents there. The younger children were already asleep although I remember my brother getting up to go to the bathroom and seeing me in the living room. My mother took pictures of me in my carefully arranged robe in front of the tree. She said that if I looked pregnant in the pictures, they would be destroyed. I have those pictures and, no I don't look pregnant. It was very important to me that I keep those pictures.
The 2 day nurses were nice. Not long after I got there, one of them did a program on childbirth for us girls. It certainly set my mind at ease about giving birth and I eventually breezed through in record time. The nurses took care of babies, us in labor and delivery and were busy. We were pretty much on our own around there. There was no live in staff, just 3 or 4 office staff during the day, nurses and a cook who stayed for breakfast and lunch. The kitchen worker girls got dinner for everyone on their own.
There was NO COUNSELING at all in KC. A month or 2 before delivery we did have one session with one of the 2 social workers to give our 'history'. I was never told anything about the potential family being considered for my son and I was afraid to ask questions. I didn't think I had the right to ask. We were told constantly by the director in chapel 'sermons' that they babies were 'going to doctors and lawyers' and would have wonderful lives. We were not supposed to use the front door of the Home when coming or leaving because that was the door that prospective adoptive parents came through. The idea was that to protect our identities, adoptive parents were not supposed to see us. I distinctly remember standing on my roommates bed one day watching out a window as a couple left the building on their way to court with one of our babies from the nursery.
We had some sort of organization set up with president, vice president, etc. I ended up being vice president for a time and my main duty was to make sure all exterior doors were locked at 6 pm. (Seems strange now to think that doors weren't locked all the time, but they weren't.) The 3-11 nurse remarked to me one day that I might be late locking up, but I never forgot. That pleased me. We also had 'inspection' of our rooms weekly. Hardly a big deal but we had to keep the rooms clean. There had a been a janitor, an older black man named David. For whatever reason, he got dumped and some of the girls circulated a petition to the director asking to have him back. The director was most displeased with that little display of civil disobedience. Instead we got a much younger guy, John. He didn't last long either when early one morning he and some friends were caught carrying our only tv out of the building.
A couple of older girls who came to Crit ended up working out of the building as nannies for some families with children. I imagine it was girls who were paying their own expenses and in this way, they could actually earn a bit of money. They were brought to the Home for their monthly exams and then delivery. One girl who came to Crit was only there for a short time. She was 'slow', they told us, but she was worse than that. When someone saw her smelling her underwear and complained, she disappeared. The age range was about 14 -22, with one woman who was married was 26. Supposedly, the baby was not her husband's and he made her stay at the Home. He came every weekend to get her and take her out overnight. I remember hearing that he was abusive to her.
I have done alot of research on Crittenton over the last 20 years. The director had told us the story of little Florence Crittenton who died of (I think) scarlet fever in the 1880's and how her father then founded the Florence Night Mission in NYC. Crittenton offered salvation through religion to the early client. Crittenton horrifies and fascinates me. I am also an adoptee (Salvation Army, Des Moines, Iowa, 1946) so I believe my experiences have affected me more intensely than other girls.
I have described my time at Crittenton as 'isolation', 'parallel universe', 'time warp', 'as if in a coma'. Not everyone feels as I do, but I have a sense of unreality about the whole experience. Talking about it in detail after all these years seems to be somewhat theraputic for me.
i'm glad to hear everything you need to say if it helps you, i'm trying to understand what my husband's ** must have gone through in 1957 so that i can help him work through his feelings. i would love to hear more, especially if it is therapeutic for you.
Wow, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your FC experience with everyone. This is the most info I've ever received. Thank you!
I was born there.....the KC one. I had no idea what it was like and what my ** went through. Your story sheds light on how my life started. Perhaps what my ** was going through. I imagine it was difficult for you ......doesn't sound like your mother was helpful - emotionally that is. It's sad to hear the staff didn't give you any counseling. I imagine EVERYONE needed it.
I appreciate you sharing the info about the bf's. I guess I always thought "a name" would be listed on my original birth certificate. Now I will be emotionally prepared for it not to be there.
Have you found your child? If not, do you want to?
Another question, but I might need it answered by a legal professional........if I was born in MO, but adopted in KS, do I have access to my original birth certificate? KS has open adoption records and obviously MO does not. My parents lived in KS when they adopted me so I assume the adoption was completed in KS.
Again, thank you so much for sharing your story!
Thank you for your kind remarks. I have stored up all this Crit info in my memory for more than 40 years now and it is so helpful to finally talk about it. It has always seemed as if it really never happened since I never felt free to talk about it all those years. I am pleased to know that some of the Crittenton babies may benefit from hearing my experiences.
I have found 5 or 6 girls who were there at the home with me - I searched for them myself. (I remembered alot of names and what state they were from.) Not one of them remembered me and most had very little memory of the Home itself or the routine there. We were told to get on with our lives and forget about our babies and apparently, many girls did.
If you were born in Missouri, I'm almost certain you have a sealed Missouri birth certificate. I know a Crit baby who went to Iowa and she has a Mo birth certificate. You almost certainly have to conduct your search through Missouri, not Kansas. Although, if the adoption was finalized in Kansas, you may want to contact them and see if they can be of any help to you.
If you have your original adoption papers, you may have your mother's name right there. I have seen some that do. They talked continually at the Home about anonymity for us, but apparently that was not quite accurate. I later learned that my son's adoption papers had my name on it all along which means his parents knew my name at the outset. All this talk of anonymity in adoption - for birthmothers - was forced upon us. We were not given any choice in the matter of knowing anything about the prospective adoptive family, nor were we asked if we wanted to be identified to them. We were told that 'no one would ever know' and it was assumed by everyone that we wanted it that way.
The father's name was not on the birth certificates for a reason. I've heard two of them: a. If the father were named on the birth certificate, he may have had to sign relinquishment papers as the mothers did. (After all, every one of us, no matter what our age, had to sign a relinquishment document. If we had not signed it, they would have had to obtain a 'termination of parental rights' through the courts which took more time and trouble.) b. It was assumed that if a girl were not married, she did not know who the father was. (That is insulting and for most of us, patently untrue.)
I did search and find my son in 1987. I used a paid searcher because I knew of no other way to find him. I had no name, no information other than what little I knew, his birthdate, his birth weight, my name. He was found within a week and I met him within 2 weeks. My son had been in an accident as a teenager and was paralyzed from the neck down. However, I met him and we had a wonderful reunion and 8 years together. He died in 1995 when he was alone at night and his breathing tube got disconnected. He couldn't get it hooked back up - he was paralyzed, you know - and he died because he couldn't breathe on his own. A very distressing situation.
My son never knew it was possible to search for me and he told me that , had he known, he would not have searched because he didn't want me to see him like that. I know how hard it must have been for him, but his condition didn't matter to me. I had waited 24 years to see my baby again and - as I said - we had 8 years together. I thought (and still do) that he was beautiful, wonderful and he was MINE. He was the first person to ever hear of my experience in a maternity home and he listened to me for hours on end. I miss him every day but I do have some wonderful memories of our short time together.
I wish you and every other person who wishes to search success. It is not a simple decision, the decision to search. People asked me if I was sure I wanted to search, if I had the right to 'interrupt' my son's life, that sort of thing. I quickly learned only to tell people who would be supportive of my search because I didn't need to hear all those doubts. I had my own doubts that I had to fight off. It was, after all, my life that was most affected - until I found my son. I had to block out the negative 'what ifs' in order to go forward. After I found him and no one could discourage me any longer, I told everyone in earshot that I'd searched and found my son.
Good luck. Lynn
I've just started my search for my birth parents and have the gut feeling that the Crittenden home is Kansas City is a possible connection. For some reason, my search results always keep coming back to may be nothing...but who knows...I was born 1/24/ headed and blue eyes....and that is about all I know...a long way to go ...but we'll see how it goes...
Hi, I am searching for a friend and found your post. My friend was born 2-11-63, perhaps you knew her mother? She was born in general hospital and stayed in the hospital for one month before going to adoptive parents. All she knows is her mother was young and possibly Jewish. Thanks for any info.
I find it interesting learning about the environment my mother lived in while she was pregnant and giving birth to me. I have some limited information and am in search of my mother through the Missouri Baptist Children's Home. I have learned that my mom would have been there in late 1969 through June 1970. My birthdate is June 5, 1970. I was born at the Florence Crittenton Home on 43rd and Wornall. I know that the MD on my birth certificate was Leonard Wall, however it seems that he was not the actual doctor that performed the delivery. I know that I was born at 11:43 AM, yet I do not know my birth weight. Like it has been said, the name of the hospital is not included on my birth certificate. I do know, however, that the court jurisdiction that my adoption went through was the Jackson County Juvenille Courts in Kansas City Missouri. I have lived my whole life in the Kansas City area. I am in the process of finding my birth parents through the MO Baptist Children's home, have been for two years now. They have told me that my mother has consented for contact to occur, but the court has my paperwork tied up waiting for the judge to discend his order. Overworked, underpaid attorney, I am SURE! So, I am very anxious now, knowing that she is maybe looking as hard for me as I have for her. If anyone knows of any other contact agencies of avenues of reconnecting with birth parents I would appreciate any input. :dance:
I see that you asked about other maternity homes in kcmo (besides Florence Crittenton). I was born in 1956 and at the St. Anthony's home for infants. This home was connected to St. Vincent's Maternity home & St. Vincent's hospital. Several years later the hospital was named Queen of the World. The set of 3 institutions was part of the Catholic Diocese & adoptions were thru Catholic Charities. You can contact Catholic Charities to do a search for you. That's what I did. You can also get all non-I'D info from them too.