Babies for sale ? Displayed in a street side window for passersby ? The National Florence Crittenton Mission was an organization established in 1883 by Charles Crittenton. It attempted to reform prostitutes and unwed pregnant women through the creation of establishments where they were to live and learn skills. Their mission was very similar to that of the Salvation Army at its inception.
Families were eventually sending their unwed mothers to Crittenton homes to hide them from public view and avoid shame. The young women sent to these homes were required to give up their children for adoption. During the time period of 1945 to 1973, the Florence Crittenton Agency was a major player with a share as large as one-third of the approximately 200 confidential maternity homes which existed during that time period. In 1976, the Florence Crittenton Association of America merged with the Child Welfare League of America.
My family did not have any dealings with this agency but the organization still exists. They even have a Facebook page of smiling young women from a diversity of cultures and the motto “Where hope comes to life”. Today there are still 27 Crittenton agencies around the country.
And today the focus of the agency has matured. A primary interest is serving teens in foster care as they have few resources and tend to be poorly informed about their rights. These young women are often pressured by child welfare agencies to relinquish their babies. Crittenton agencies also currently provide services to girls who have been sexually abused or trafficked for sex or who are addicted to drugs.
Beyond these modern day efforts, it is progressive of them to operate a search service to help their former clients and their now adult adoptees to re-connect. Former clients operate an outreach known as the Florence Crittenton Home Reunion Registry.