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Call No.: MC 630; Vt-115
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Concerned United Birthparents, Inc.
Title: Records of Concerned United Birthparents, Inc., 1946-1999 (inclusive), 1975-1995 (bulk)
Quantity: 15.85 linear feet (38 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 3 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, 4 videotapes, and electronic records)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Records of Concerned United Birthparents, Inc., a birthparent support and adoption reform organization, consisting of administrative records, correspondence, publications, clippings, project files, videotapes, etc.
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Concerned United Birthparents, Inc. Additional records, 1974-2013 (MC 823).
Concerned United Birthparents (CUB) formed in Milford, Massachusetts, in 1976 under the leadership of Lee Campbell. Early active members included Mary Anne Cohen, Susan Darke, Gail Hanssen, Kathy Leahy, Joanne McDonald, Sandy Musser, and Carole Anderson. CUB was founded as a support group for "birthparents" (the term preferred by the group over "biological parents") who found it necessary to relinquish their children to adoption. However they quickly became involved in legislative reform, supporting ethical adoption laws, policies, and procedures, as well as advocating for open adoption records for adoptees and birthparents. Most early members believed that they had been stigmatized by having a child out of wedlock and then further victimized by a corrupt adoption system that all but kidnaped their birthchildren. CUB also provided resources to help prevent unnecessary family separations and to educate the public about the life-long impact on all who are touched by adoption. Although initially limited to birthparents, the organization grew to include adoptees, adoptive parents, siblings, and other family members. In 2003, CUB revised its mission statement to that effect.Throughout the 1980s, CUB continued to push for adoption reform at both the state and national level. Its national headquarters had moved to Dover, New Hampshire, and then, in 1986, to Des Moines, Iowa, and, as it grew it began to sponsor local branches throughout the country, including in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, California; Toledo, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Boston, Massachusetts; and Kansas City, Missouri. As part of its support effort, the organization published several newsletters, including the CUB Communicator, Family Advocate, and Leaders' Journal, which included adoption and reunion stories and branch reports, as well as advertisements placed by those seeking birthparents, adopted children, or relatives. CUB also published a number of articles and pamphlets regarding various facets of the adoption process. At its height, the organization boasted as many as two thousand members. As of 2007, the organization was headquartered in Encinitas, California, and sponsored eight branches having about four hundred members.
The collection is arranged in five series:
- Series I. Administrative, 1981-1999 (#1.1-9.6)
- ___Subseries A. Board and president's files, 1981-1999 (#1.1-7.3)
- ___Subseries B. Phyllis Silverman case, 1986-1991 (#7.4-9.6)
- Series II. Correspondence, 1975-1999 (#9.7-17.9)
- Series III. Projects and clippings, 1946-1995 (#17.10-26.5, Vt-115.1 - Vt-115.4)
- ___Subseries A. Projects, 1971-1994 (#17.10-23.9, Vt-115.1 - Vt-115.4)
- ___Subseries B. Clippings, 1946-1995 (#23.10-26.5)
- Series IV. Newsletters and publication materials, 1975-1995 (#26.6-38.11)
- ___Subseries A. Concerned United Birthparents publication materials, 1984-1995 (#26.6-29.9)
- ___Subseries B. Concerned United Birthparents publications and other newsletters, 1975-1995 (#30.1-38.11)
- Series V. Oversized, 1979-1996 (#FD.1, F+D.1 - F+D.3, OD.1)
Series I, ADMINISTRATIVE, 1981-1999 (#1.1-9.6), contains meeting minutes, correspondence, memos, financial and other reports, meeting agenda, notes, membership lists, ballots, legal case files, etc. There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Concerned United Birthparents, Inc. Additional records, 1974-2013 (MC 823).Subseries A, Board and president's files, 1981-1999 (#1.1-7.3), includes meeting minutes, memos, financial and other reports, meeting agenda, notes, ballots, applications for leadership positions and new branch formation, membership lists, etc., involved in the governance of both the national organization and its local branches. Activities of the board and president include amending by-laws; approving new branches and leaders; approving expenditures; guiding the education, legislative reform, and search assistance efforts of the organization; and planning national conferences. Since national board members were scattered geographically, it appears that most board meetings were held by mailed-in ballots. In-person meetings were held infrequently. Daily activities were handled by the national office manager under the direction of the board president. Original folder titles were retained. The series is arranged alphabetically and thence chronologically.Subseries B, Phyllis Silverman case, 1986-1991 (#7.4-9.6), includes correspondence, board minutes, notes, legal documents, questionnaires completed by birthparents regarding post-reunion relationships with children, etc., related to Phyllis Silverman's libel suit against Concerned United Birthparents and its national officers. The case arose out of Concerned United Birthparents' public accusation that Silverman and her fellow researchers had illegally obtained research data belonging to the organization, interpreted the data, and published it as their own work. Silverman, claiming that she had legal rights to the data, sued both the organization and each national officer for libel stating that they had damaged her professional reputation by writing to national research journals, adoption reform organizations, and state licensing boards. The case was eventually dismissed with both parties retaining legal rights to the research data in question and the ability to publish their individual findings after notifying the opposing party of said intention. Folder titles were created by the processor. The series is arranged alphabetically.Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1975-1999 (#9.7-17.9), includes correspondence originally maintained in several categories: inquiries, member, non-member, internal, and external. These largely consist of requests for assistance in searching for adoptees, birthparents, siblings, etc., and contain a fair amount of biographical material; requests for general information regarding Concerned United Birthparents and search procedures; requests from students seeking research data; and complaints from members about divisiveness within the organization or not having received newsletters. Correspondence labeled "external" also consists of information received from, and communications with, other adoption-oriented organizations. Also included in the series are Carole Anderson's correspondence, consisting mainly of correspondence with contributors in her role as editor of the CUB Communicator, and a small amount of personal correspondence (including some with Mary Anne Cohen, a founding member of Concerned United Birthparents), as well as correspondence regarding the New Yorker article, "The War for Baby Clausen," consisting of copies of letters to the New Yorker forwarded to Concerned United Birthparents by members complaining of misquotes and misrepresentations of the organization and its members in the article. Most original folder titles were retained. The series is arranged alphabetically and thence chronologically.Series III, PROJECTS AND CLIPPINGS, 1946-1995 (#17.10-26.5, Vt-115.1 - Vt-115.4), consists of clippings, correspondence, flyers, notes, meeting minutes, draft and other reports, amicus briefs, conference materials, proclamations, draft legislation, etc.Subseries A, Projects, 1971-1994 (#17.10-23.9, Vt-115.1 - Vt-115.4), includes correspondence, flyers, notes, meeting minutes, drafts and other reports, amicus briefs, conference materials, proclamations, draft legislation, videotapes, etc., for various projects in which the national organization was involved. Projects included legislative reform at the state and national levels, submissions of amicus briefs for a number of court cases involving adoption, and requests for state governors to make proclamations of Birthparents' Week, as well as a project aimed at educating legislators on the facts of adoption and adoption law. Most notable of these projects were the Model Adoption Legislation and Procedures Advisory Panel formed by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on which Lee Campbell, former president and founding member of Concerned United Birthparents, sat; and the Drafting Committee on a Uniform Adoption Act of the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws, which the organization tirelessly addressed in an attempt to make adoption law more palatable to birthparents. Videotapes consist of two recordings of public service announcements for Concerned United Birthparents and two adoption-related documentaries produced by other organizations. Original folder titles were retained. The series is arranged alphabetically.Subseries B, Clippings, 1946-1995 (#23.10-26.5), consists of clippings documenting Concerned United Birthparents' activities in legislative reform, education, and search assistance at both the national and local level . Also documented are national and international changes in adoption legislation and prominent legal cases involving adoption.Series IV, N EWSLETTERS AND PUBLICATION MATERIALS, 1975-1995 (#26.6-38.11), contains newsletters, flyers, articles, letters, drafts, advertisements, clippings, poems, photographs, etc.Subseries A, Concerned United Birthparents publication materials, 1984-1995 (#26.6-29.9), includes reviews, letters, drafts, advertisements, clippings, poems, photographs, mock-ups, etc., submitted for or used in the publication of the national newsletter, the CUB Communicator, and the Family Advocate. Reviews and drafts consist largely of reviews of new books regarding adoption and the child and birthparent experience, news of chapter meetings and conferences, and local and national legislative updates. Poetry and letters mainly recount the personal stories of birthparents in the relinquishment of their children and of adoptive children; successful and failed searches for birthparents, children, or siblings; and difficulties in accessing adoption information. First-time subscribers to the newsletter consisted of birthparents, adoptees, and siblings who were allowed to place three free advertisements. These advertisements generally provide biographical information in an effort to locate birthparents, adopted children, and/or siblings. Original folder titles were retained. The subseries is arranged chronologically.Subseries B, Concerned United Birthparents publications and other newsletters, 1975-1995 (#30.1-38.11), consists of flyers, newsletters, etc., published by Concerned United Birthparents, including a number of branch newsletters; the Family Advocate and the Leader's Journal; and a number of pamphlets on topics including searching for relinquished children, adoptees unwilling to meet birthparents, and the social worker's role in adoption. The national organization also engaged in a newsletter exchange program through which they amassed a collection of newsletters of a number of other organizations dealing with adoption and adoption law reform both in the United States and in several other English-speaking countries. Original folder titles were retained; They consist of organization names, newsletter titles, or a combination of the two. The subseries is arranged alphabetically in two groupings, beginning with Concerned United Birthparents publications, followed by other adoption-related organizational publications. Consult the library's catalog for holdings of national Concerned United Birthparents publications. The Concerned United Birthparents' web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site will be available through this finding aid in 2010.Series V, OVERSIZED, 1979-1996 (#FD.1, FD+.1 - FD+.3, OD.1), contains a poster, letters, annotated articles, a spreadsheet, member lists, newsletters, and a proclamation removed from other series and subseries.The photographs in this collection are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].