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Ask a Genealogist: In Search of Foster Care Records

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Question:

In the early 1940's my mother and her 3 siblings were placed in foster care in Massachusetts (they were all under age 10). My mom stayed in the same foster home until she married at age 27, none of the children were ever adopted. My mother never saw her father again until his funeral in 1959. She saw her mother once or twice; she died in 1961. Would there be any paperwork accessible to her that might describe the reasons they were taken from their parents?

Answer:

 In regards to your question, there may be some information available as to why your mother and her siblings were placed in foster care. If parental rights were terminated, it would have had to go through the court system. Court records may contain information as to why rights were terminated. Many records involving children have been sealed and may require a court order. Contact information for Massachusetts Probate and Family Court by county can be found at http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/courthousesbycounty.html . The Department of Children and Family in Massachusetts may also have information on how to obtain records from that time period. Contact them at dcfcommissioner@state.ma.us, 617-748-2000.

Often children were placed in foster homes from private agencies and children's homes throughout Massachusetts. Massachusetts state law only requires retention of records for twenty years after discharge from a facility, some retain at least partial information in their files. If a private agency or home was involved, you may want to contact them and ask if any records still exist.

Posted by Jean Maguire at 03/12/2014 05:46:40 PM | 


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