Adoption In The News: “‘Brown babies’ long search for family, identity”

CNN recently posted a feature story on the plight of adoptees from  the World War II-era, who were born to white German mothers and African American male soldiers who were in Germany on military duty. According to the article, “couples were often split apart by disapproving military officers…and the single mothers of the African American babies struggled to find support in a mostly white Germany and were encouraged to give their kids up.”

According to the article, many of these romances occurred because “many women German women perceived the black soldiers to be kinder than their white counterparts.” While the African American soldiers “wanted to seize the advantages of being away from Jim Crow America.”

The article said that  between 1945-1955, about 5,000 “Brown Babies” were born, and as of 1968 “Americans had adopted about 7,000 of these German children.” Many were not told they were adopted until they were adults. One of the main reasons that these children were placed in America, according to the article, was Germany’s “national identity was strongly tied to white German heritage.”

One of these adoptees was Daniel Cardwell, who has been searching for most of his adult life for his biological roots.  According to the article, Cardwell was adopted at the age of four by an African-American family in Washington DC. He has gone to great lengths to find out more about his birth family including traveling “the country in search of aging documents, hypnotism therapy,build(ing) relationships with distant family members and visit(ing) Germany several times.”

The article said that time may be running our for Cartwell and other “Brown Babies” to find their birth parents.

“People’s mothers are passing away, their fathers are passing away, and people are starting to wonder who they are,” Henrietta Cain, a “Brown Baby,” said in the article. “Now even we are passing away, and it’s a story that needs to be told.”

While many have been unable to track their roots, Cain said she has been able to find her biological sister and mother and now has a close relationship with both. She said that her birth father passed away before they could meet. She now devotes her life to helping other “Brown Babies” find their birth families according to the article.

The article said that there has recently been two documentaries on this topic.  “Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story” was released in the summer of 2011 and “Brown Babies: Germany’s Lost Children” was shown on German Television in the fall.

To read the full article, you can click here.