In the early 1990s, the Georgia Tann baby stealing and scandal re-emerged into the national consciousness. She had been dead 40 years and narrowly escaped criminal charges when the complications of cancer took their toll.
60 Minutes did a feature on the scandal. They introduced a woman named Denny Glad who lived in the Memphis Tennessee area and was doing her best to assist Tann’s victims in relocating the families they had been taken from. At this time, adoption records were closed and firmly sealed behind the power of the state and kept from even adult adoptees. My mom did reach out to Mrs Glad and was only able to receive some minimal information which was still more than she had before.
My mom took the next step and contacted the state. They promised to do everything in their power to locate the parents my mom had been born to. It was a lie. There was definitely bureaucratic laziness in their less than motivated efforts. My mom’s father was 20 years older than my mom’s mother when they married. He had been dead 30 years at the time my mom made her effort to get her adoption file.
All the state did was inquire of the Arkansas Driver’s License about his status. In the adoption file, it is indicated that he signed a separate set of surrender papers after a sheriff showed up at his mother’s home in Beech Grove Arkansas with those papers along with a subpoena to Juvenile Court in Memphis for the very next day – not much time to prepare – and anyway, I’m certain he was told the mother had already signed these and if he did too, he would not have to appear in court.
Had the state of Tennessee confirmed he was no longer living when my mom inquired, she would have been given her file. She had at least 2 uncles and 2 aunts still living on her mother’s side and half-siblings on her father’s side.
My mom was devastated when the state of Tennessee told her that the woman who gave birth to her had died several years earlier. It ended her hopes and dreams. My mom was never told when the state of Tennessee decided to release the adoption files to victims or their immediate descendants in the late 1990s. Thanks to that change in the law, I finally received her adoption file in October of 2017.