Home for unwed mothers in Indianapolis, 1960s-1970s?
April 26, 2014 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Coincidence or something real? Two "relatives" have contacted me with a similar story: born to teenage mothers in Indianapolis in the 1960s or 1970s. Was there a home for unwed mothers there?

Two distant cousins on 23 and Me have contacted me, trying to learn more about their family histories. Both were born to teenage mothers in Indianapolis, one in the 60s and one in the 70s.

My family has had no family members in Indiana. The only explanation might be that their pregnant mothers were shipped off to IN to give birth. But my question is: was there a home for unwed mothers there in the 60s and 70s? Was it associated with a particular religious group?

If you know anything about such a thing, I'd love to know the name, and/or what religious group they might have been affiliated with. That might help me figure out how these folks might be related to me!

Thanks in advance!
posted by metarkest to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We had this post about Florence Crittenton homes for unwed mothers a while ago, that might give some starting points.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:59 AM on April 26, 2014

Are you sure these people contacting you are who they say they are?

It seems more likely these two "cousins" are actually the same person.

If it is a scam, you should report the situation to the website.

Whatever you do, don't give out any further personal info to these folks.
posted by jbenben at 12:01 PM on April 26, 2014

was there a home for unwed mothers there in the 60s and 70s?

Undoubtedly. They were absolutely everywhere. I can't imagine a major city that didn't have at least one. They were literally commonplace. And they were run by practically any religious group you can imagine. My dad was born in a Baptist one, my husband was born in a Catholic one, and there were plenty of county and charitable ones that while Christian (or Jewish) were not affiliated with a particular sect.

If you have the first and last name of these people, you may be able to pull birth records to confirm their stories.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:10 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

It seems more likely these two "cousins" are actually the same person.

As 23 & Me is a service which analyzes user-submitted genetic material, it is unlikely that two people with similar but not identical genetic material would be one scammer, unless they are a genetic chimera, and that's just a little too Season 9 Bones for real life.

OP, I am not sure of the history of sperm donation in the US Midwest in the 60s and 70s but something along those lines would be another possibility.

(oops, missed the part about teen moms. yes, your assumption seems the most logical)
posted by elizardbits at 12:11 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are not scams, nor are they the same person, as they are genetically related to me. (We likely share great-great-grandparents.)

I'll have to check out the Florence Crittenton homes - thanks!
posted by metarkest at 12:13 PM on April 26, 2014

Best answer: Here's one that is still around
posted by interplanetjanet at 12:42 PM on April 26, 2014

Best answer: Can't help with the question about Indiana, but I do have a comment. Mr. gudrun and I have both done testing through familytreedna. In our experience, if you are female, and getting mitochondrial DNA matches with people, these people can be very very distant to you genealogically and still show up as some kind of match. Mr. gudrun has had better luck with Y dna matches being more closely related, i.e. actually in his family tree from a few generations ago, than with mitochondrial dna/maternal line matches (none of his matches have been from recent generations).

The same thing holds true for my father, who also has done testing. He and someone match very very closely dna wise on the maternal line, but the only thing they have in common, as far as we can tell, is Viking ancestry long long ago. There are no name/surname matches in their family trees (at least not going back to the 1600's anyway.)

My point is that if you are female, these people matching you can actually be very distant cousins.
posted by gudrun at 1:25 PM on April 26, 2014

I think the far more important criteria here is that children of unwed mothers are very very likely to be using a service like 23 and Me. This is not a homogeneous population, in other words.
posted by dhartung at 10:25 PM on April 26, 2014

Best answer: During that time period, Catholic Charities in Indianapolis ran St. Elizabeth's Home, which was an adoption charity. They housed pregnant girls through their pregnancy. I was adopted from there in 1958.

It's now St. Elizabeth/Coleman center. They don't house mothers anymore, and are strictly an adoption agency. It's definitely worth a look.

One thing...Adoption from that time are sealed records. Indiana does have an open-records registry, but it requires both the birth mother and the adoptee to register before any records can be shared. It very well may be that your quest will be a dead-end. I had to resort to a private investigator to unearth my birth information.

Good luck, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:51 AM on April 27, 2014

Best answer: In case you're interested in the culture of these institutions, I'm currently reading The Girls Who Went Away, and it is fascinating if heartbreaking.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:08 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all - this has been really helpful!

It's been an interesting experience on 23andme - found some closer relatives I've never met, and it's made me more curious about some of these social conventions that were more common than they are today. Honestly, I had no idea!
posted by metarkest at 1:44 PM on April 30, 2014

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