Adoptions Were Often Informal

Adoptions were not necessarily the result of some type of legal proceeding. Many adoptions were informal and the child was taken in by relatives or neighbors. The child in this illustration was living in the county poor farm with her mother when she was adopted in the 1870s. There was no court action and no record of her adoption.
Researchers should see if there was some local court record of the adoption, but before the 20th century, most adoptions were informal. Later adoptions that were the result of court proceedings may have records that are closed or sealed.



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