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Dan Rather to Air Investigation on Forced Adoptions

Dan Rather

Dan Rather Reports will air a segment on adoption on HDNet on May 1 at 8  p.m. Eastern that may unfairly depict social workers.

The investigation, entitled “Adopted or Abducted,” will look at women who claim they were coerced into giving their children up for adoptions in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Social workers allegedly helped with some of these adoptions.

These women claim they were counseled not to keep their children and that adoption was the only option necessary.

“The counseling was, ‘You can’t keep your baby. You’d be selfish if you kept your baby,'” one woman in Nebraska said. “That’s what the counseling was. It was brainwashing.”

It’s likely that many people identified in this news report as “social workers” are not educated, licensed or trained social work professionals.” In fact, many states still allow misrepresentation of the social work profession despite accepted licensure laws and a nationally accredited educational system.

The National Association of Social Workers is in contact with Dan Rather Reports and plans to respond to the investigative report.

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  1. Once again, Greg, your investigative skills are to be praised. What a great discovery and a very important one to be followed up by NASW. I believe that your hunch is right on target – it is HIGHLY likely that the “social workers” identified in this investigative segment will NOT be licensed, educated nor trained, thus giving social workers a bad name once again, through the misnaming and incorrect titling of a counselor. Looking forward to hearing about the follow up. Thanks for finding a way to contact the production team and for getting NASW involved.

  2. Many of these social workers were indeed licensed. Regardless, of this fact this is not the issue because the most grievous crimes occurred in hospital under an illegal hospital protocol with the collusion of church and state.

  3. The last time I checked, people who facilitate adoption call themselves “Social Workers.” If they aren’t, we’ve all been lied to by the adoption agencies.

  4. I was “counseled” by Social Workers from the SC Children’s Bureau in the early 1960’s. These were state-licensed employees. The only counseling they gave me was that my baby would be miserable with me, I would ruin both our lives and that there were couples who would be much “better” parents for my flesh and blood. PLEASE don’t deny that there was that mindset and action back then. It will only take away from a message that has been unheard for decades. The time has come for our stories to not only be heard, but to be corroborated and believed!

  5. The crimes occurred in hospital it was the social workers in hospitals and nurses that were involved in the actual abduction/kidnapping of our babies. Are you telling us that the hospital social workers were not licensed? I find that hard to believe.

  6. There is still coercion in domestic infant adoption. It may not be so obvious as during the Baby Scoop Era, but the very language used in adoption work, by all adoption workers, still owes its origins to the past. My family recently tried to adopt an infant here in the US (we even had a baby at home with us for 3 weeks). Some of the adoption laws are astounding, and the rights of birth parents are few. I think adoption social workers are so ingrained in their jobs–they may not challenge sufficiently whether a birth mother truly wants to relinquish or not (or provide alternatives to help parent).

  7. Yes, they were Social Workers. I was in The Lutheran Home for Girls in Minnesota run by Lutheran Social Services. The so called counseling was just about being too young, no resources, child is illegitimate, and letting your child have a wonderful life which you couldn’t give them. Your baby will go to a childless educated couple who want a child and can give them everyhing you can’t.

  8. I am writing to you today because I read your response to the Dan Rather Reports and I want to let you know that I completely agree with you that they are portraying Social Workers unfairly.

    It is so important for people to understand what a “Social Worker” actually is. This is a perfect example of why we lobby legislators for title protection and mandatory licensing laws. Social Workers often take the blame for what people assumed to be Social Workers or who call themselves “Social Workers,” but aren’t, do. That simply isn’t fair to us or our clients who need us.

    What I urge is for the NASW to be gentle with these mothers. The stories these mothers tell of being pressured to surrender their babies are true.

    This is tied in with what we discussed via email before about the amending and sealing of original birth certificates and Adoptee Rights. The sealing of our birth certificates was derived out of this era where single motherhood was shameful.

    Our birth certificates were amended to indicate that adoptees were now members of new families and to protect adoptees from the scorn of illegitimacy. I cannot attest to whether or not any of the individuals who handled the adoptions of the mothers who say they were forced or coerced were real Social Workers (although some individual mothers say they recall what credentials were given).

    I cannot speak for all of the mothers who surrendered babies to adoption in this era but I do know several of them (who were not on the show). While Mr. Rather did not go about educating his audience about Social Workers and what “Social Worker” means in a professional way, the mothers I know are not trying to hurt anyone, the Social Work profession, or the NASW. They had a very bad thing happen to them because of their age, gender, and marital status.

    They want to be acknowledged and validated. As they enter into the aging population, they will no doubt encounter many Social Workers in the Department of Aging, at their insurance companies, at hospitals and nursing homes, in hospice programs, to senior centers and community-based programs.

    I think this is a really important opportunity to not only educate the public about what “Social Worker” means (and legislators should listen to the NASW and pass those title/license bills) and to extend compassion to these mothers who have been so badly hurt so that they know the next time they encounter someone who is a Social Worker, as they no doubt will, they will be able to trust in the skills and values of that worker once they’ve verified their credentials.

  9. Mara,

    According to the NASW, the only people who are considered “Social Workers” are those with a minimum of a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from an accredited school of Social Work. Licensing is not required until the MSW level and is not a requirement for all types of Social Work. In many states, Social Services professionals with no education or non-Social Work education may legally be allowed to call themselves “Social Work” but the NASW does not consider them “Social Workers” nor will they even admit them to membership to the NASW. The NASW works nationwide to pass title protection acts to make it unlawful for someone who does not meet the requirements of a professional Social Worker to use the title. They also promote laws that require licensing at all levels to ensure accountability and competency. In some states, this has come to fruition. In my state, there are very heavy fines for presenting yourself as a Social Worker without meaning the educational standards and Social Work school is absolutely grueling.

    Yes, there are workers calling themselves “Social Workers” in hospitals, adoption, everywhere who are not only not “Social Workers” according to the NASW standard but are also not licensed in any capacity. They are not NASW members.

    This is why I urge Adoption Reform advocates to support Social Work title protection and licensing acts in their state. Social Work educated Social Workers and NASW members are held to strict Codes of Ethics and competency standards. This will improve Social Services agencies–adoption included.

    And as Jennifer said, there are indeed adoption workers who are real Social Workers who need to take a step back and evaluate how adoption may be practiced by their agency.

  10. What these young women are reporting that occurred in the adoption agencies was the prevailing attitude and absolutely unquestioned assumption throughout the United States in the 1950’s and early 1960’s–that “out of wedlock” pregnancy was shameful and that allowing “unwed mothers” to keep their child was unthinkable. The workers probably gave little thought as to how coercive it must have been to women who were not presented with any options and were not offered supportive services for keeping their child.

    As uncomfortable as it makes us now, many of those adoption workers were probably licensed social workers. It would be interesting to do a study and find out for sure. Then again, the history of our profession has been that many critical aspects of social work are co-opted by nonprofessionals. On the bright side, if any adoption workers in the 1950’s did show respect for the young women’s right to self-determination and did give young women options, it was probably their social work training that gave them the skills and insight and allowed them to go against the overwhelming tide. The social work profession grew, evolved, and matured during the 20th century, but we are a product of the culture and times we live in.

    This vivid example of the incredible pain that can be inflicted on people in crisis all just points to how critical it is that the work in social services needs to be performed by licensed, trained professionals. The people performing the work in the first social service agencies realized that over 100 years ago, and colleges of social work were created and the social work profession was born.

    The mistake that the social work profession has made has been to assume that what we needed to protect as a profession was the title, when what actually needed to be protected was the work. The medical profession doesn’t allow anyone to practice medicine as long as they avoid referring to themselves as “doctors.” They police the work itself, along with the title. We should do the same. State legislators have gone to great lengths to establish social work licensure, only to allow many social work jobs to be performed by anyone, without social work training, as long as they relabeled it as something else. The bruhaha over the Charlie Sheen’s movie is the same issue. Oh good, at least he is not calling himself a “social worker,” problem solved.

  11. Stale Mate,I am a mother of a 38 year old son that the Childrens Home Society took away from me by coercion and under intense duress,in Jax ,Fla that is the place and the social worker is the one who said my son was found and he’s a lawyer,she told me it was so good of his parents to send him thru law school,I told her my life history and she lied to me, I know for a fact she never contacted him,she made it up.I figured this out thru months of her making up stories when she couldn,t get one story straight,How do I know he is alive,the state paid for thIs and they did not get any results with their so how can she do this since I don,t have any proof she sent his med history1st letters,photos,nothing on paper or said on the phone ,it was government money from me being disabled.She wants us in this apart forever until I die.Why all the made up stories ,she even apologized and I could not ecept this.Where does the line draw when a social worker gets paid to make up what ever they want,who,s to stop her uneceptable behavior,after all when you get lied to on such a very important subject like the coldess feeling and not caring that she lied ,I think all mothers that have waited almost to death is a crime and the one about adoptees dying ,due to socialworkers still with-holding information that could save the adult adoptees life,the surgeon general sid that very statement this year,the rallyls by the millions are mad ,as they have been takened and are not afraid anymore,my so called crime was he was planned <I was 24 yrs.and married but husband took off with savings then no help,I was still young and did not focus on that paper they made me sign,they were carrying off my son -My Son never forgot never will.

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