Detroit’s complex legacy in the National Florence Crittenton Mission

In researching material for my forthcoming book on the institution of American adoption, I have been collecting stories along with historical documentation and photos of the hospital where I was born in Detroit. [Author’s note, March 2019: my book is now available in paperback and ebook; you can also find an updated version of this article, with footnotes and a bibliography on my book website.]

Florence Crittenton Home and Hospital Detroit, 1932. Source: Fifty Years' Work with Girls, 1883-1933: A Story of the Florence Crittenton Homes
The Florence Crittenton Home and Hospital in Detroit, taken in 1932. Source: Fifty Years’ Work with Girls, 1883-1933: A Story of the Florence Crittenton Homes.

At the time of my birth, the facility was called Crittenton General Hospital. It was created by the National Florence Crittenton Mission, a group started in 1883 to serve prostitutes, fallen and vulnerable women, and women who were pregnant out of marriage. This was a social group who were exploited and scorned, and the organization sought to assist them by giving them shelter, training in remedial women’s occupations, and, if possible, the space to build new lives.

As the mission’s 1933 publication states, the organization sought to rescue “young girls, both sinned against and sinning,” and to restore “them to the world strengthened against temptation and fitted in some measure to maintain themselves by work.”

In 1933, a half century after its founding, the organization had already served half a million women. Nearly all were white, and they were cared for around the country and even Canada–from sunny Florida, to rainy Oregon, to my home state of Michigan.

The Crittenton mission was uniquely reformist in the American progressive tradition. It was also deeply faith-based. Its strong public-health orientation proved equally important. It tried to improve the health and livelihoods of vulnerable groups and took an active role in training the newly created class of professional social workers.

Source: Fifty Years' Work with Girls, 1883-1933: A Story of the Florence Crittenton Homes.
Source: Fifty Years’ Work with Girls, 1883-1933: A Story of the Florence Crittenton Homes.

This combination made it a distinctly American institution. It touched the lives of generations of women who passed through its doors, and equally the children who were born either at the Crittenton homes and hospitals or cared for before and after the mothers’ pregnancies.

I am one of those persons who benefited from the organization’s original charitable mission. I was born in one of its hospitals.

But the organization’s much later and more hidden role in promoting adoption as a “solution” to out-of-wedlock pregnancies by the early 1960s had a much larger role. The solution in my case led to my relinquishment into foster care and eventual adoption. The hospital’s transformation during the boom years of American adoption occurred in the years surrounding my birth. Shortly after, in 1971, the hospital severed its ties with the national organization, ending an important chapter for an institution that played a critical role in Detroit’s social and medical history.

Preaching the gospel and saving lives

The mission began in New York City, under the guidance of businessman Charles Crittenton. A deeply evangelical man, he committed to helping one of society’s most vulnerable groups after the death of his 4-year-old daughter Florence from scarlet fever. Her demise created a deep bout of anguish. His autobiography describes how he turned to solitary prayer and saw the light, leading to his future mission. Today that mission lives on in the National Crittenton Foundation, now located in Portland, Oregon, my current home town. It is now dedicated to serving young women who are victims of violence and childhood adversity.

Charles Crittenton, founder of the Florence Crittenton Mission.
Charles Crittenton, founder of the National Florence Crittenton Mission.

At its start, in 1883, Crittenton worked the streets and promoted the Christian gospel, specifically to combat prostitution and provide service to exploited women and girls. The organization’s 50-year summary notes, “In its beginning the objective of Florence Crittenton efforts was the redemption of the fallen woman, the street-walker, and the inmate of houses of prostitution. The great agency in such redemption was the simple one of religious conversion.”

The organization slowly expanded its efforts, finding champions in many U.S. cities: St. Petersburg, Detroit, Boston, Nashville, San Francisco, Phoenix, Portland, and more.  By 1895 he was joined by activist Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, with whom Crittenton corresponded. She later became the only woman on the national Crittenton board, after it was incorporated by Congress in 1898.

The mission was involved in  anti-prostitution efforts during the early 1900s and focussed on training that would enable women to leave prostitution. Its primary focus remained on the rescue and care of unwed mothers, providing them appropriate medical care, and their right to raise their children free from the scorn of society.

Kate Waller Barrett, former president of the National Florence Crittenton Mission.
Kate Waller Barrett, former president of the National Florence Crittenton Mission.

By the 1920s, Crittenton policy opposed separating a mother and child for adoption and believed that children should be kept with their birth mothers. As the mission’s 50-year history notes that promoting this policy helped to deepen the “love of the mother for her child and strengthening her desire to keep her baby.”

Motherhood was viewed as a means of reform. A Crittenton home became the place to promote both responsible motherhood and self-support. “Our girls need the influence of child-life upon them. They need to have the qualities that are essential to a strong, well-regulated character trained in them,” wrote Barrett in an undated pamphlet that described the mission’s philosophy of keeping mother and child together.

Crittenton combats the stigma of illegitimacy and helps “fallen women”

Nationally, the mission also sought to combat societal stigma for children associated with illegitimacy. By the second decade of the 20th century, publicized exposes had revealed the horrors of illegitimately born babies–the bastard children scorned by family, church, and most of society in the United States.

One highly publicized 1914 report called the Traffic in Babies by Dr. George Walker reported virtual charnel houses for unwanted, abandoned, and illegitimate children. These reportedly operated to “save” the single women from the disgrace of being unmarried mothers. The mortality rate of the relinquished bastard children was as high as 80 percent. Some doctors, nurses, midwives, clergymen, and hospital administrators actively referred the disgraced mothers who had sex out of marriage and became pregnant to these lethal, for-profit baby shops. Some hospitals even made money secretively moving the unwanted children from hospital wards to the unsanitary baby homes where most died.

Thc Crittenton mission clearly understood that the stigma of illegitimacy for out-of-wedlock babies was the driving force that demonized both mother and child. Prophetically, the mission in 1933 foretold of larger changes a half century later. The mission’s 50-year history notes: “Nothing short of a revolutionary charge in the mores of the American people will put the unmarried mother on a par, socially, with the married mother. Until such change shall be effected and there is no longer any such person as an illegitimate child, the mother without a marriage ring will continue to be looked at askance by a large proportion of the population and will suffer, even occasionally to the point of suicide, the shadow of social and family disgrace.” By the 1990s, single parenthood largely was de-stigmatized, with one in every three children in the United States being born outside of marriage.

Barrett headed the mission after Crittenton’s death in 1909. She passed away in 1925. By the 1930s, when these photographs were all taken, the organization was providing charitable service to assist those “fallen women,” in order “to restore to her, as far as possible, this most precious asset of a respected standing in society.” At this time, this still meant keeping the mother and child together.

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

These pictures of the Florence Crittenton homes, published by the mission, reveal they projected a public image of being well-to-do. The facilities were all found in respectable areas, but had their actual mission hidden by the facade of upper-class and upper-middle-class gentility.

Well-to-do business people contributed to these charitable facilities in the cities where they operated, including my current home town of Portland. Detroit’s efforts at fund-raising, thanks to the Motor City’s new-found wealth from its booming automotive manufacturing sector, led to $700,000 to support the construction of a new hospital–a feat no others could match.

Crittenton General Hospital, the largest in the United States

The first Crittenton home in Detroit opened in 1897 over a store on what is now Broadway Avenue. The operation expanded and moved to a Victorian mansion on Brush Street, also in downtown Detroit. Within six years, it had outgrown its capacity. At any given time, the home was caring for 33 women, not counting the children, according to the mission’s published records. Thanks to the successful fund-raising efforts by the city’s wealthy to support women’s organizations, $700,000 in donations helped to secure land and build a new facility. This was meant to replace the old home, which was reportedly then in a “colored section” of the city. In 1907, the mission opened the Florence Crittenton Hospital on East Elizabeth Street. It offered inpatient and private patient care for indigent and unwed mothers. By 1922, it was offering up to 30 beds for mothers and their children.

National Florence Critttenton Mission convention, 1932, Detroit.
National Florence Critttenton Mission convention, 1932, Detroit.

The hospital and home on Brush street had already become established as a facility that trained new or resident obstetrician. It was certified by the board of health governing local clinics and affiliated with the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery. By 1927, the hospital had outgrown its capacity to meet the need to serve vulnerable women.

The new Florence Crittenton Home and Hospital, as it was identified in the mission’s records, was opened in 1929 at 1554 Tuxedo Avenue, about three miles from downtown Detroit. The new facility had three wings. Two of the facility’s wings were devoted to the care of the single and pregnant women and their infants. The mission’s records from 1932 note these two wings had 115 dormitory beds, 100 cribs, 40 bassinets, and a nursery that served this ever revolving population. Special recreation rooms were devoted to caring for the infants, and the roof was used for playtime and exposing the babies to sun and air.

According to the mission’s records, the hospital supplemented its operational costs with a third wing. It offered medical care mostly to lower-income women and children and was certified by American College of Surgeons. However, the third wing was separate from the two wings for the unwed women. The public wing also focussed on maternal care and general surgery.

By 1950, the hospital had to expand yet again to meet the growing demand for services. A separate maternity home called the Florence Crittenton Maternity Home, located at 11850 Woodrow Wilson, was built and opened in 1954. It was less than half a block from the hospital, which was then calling itself Crittenton General Hospital. The hospital and maternity home were connected by a service tunnel. The home could accommodate up to 60 young women, who had semi-private rooms. The home offered them class instruction, an auditorium, a dining facility, and even a “beauty shop,” according the mission’s records.

“Every effort was made to maintain a homelike atmosphere for the patient,” according to the official records. In reality, the young women were cut off from family and friends and faced with one of the most momentous decisions of their lives. In many cases, they would be pressured by a social workers, maternity staff, and medical professionals to relinquish their infant children to adoption.

Crittenton General Hospital was the largest of all Crittenton facilities in the country in the 1950s. Crittenton maternity homes–and in the case of cities like Boston and Detroit, combined Crittenton homes and hospitals–had become way stations. Pregnant women from their teens to their early to mid-20s stayed out the last days, weeks, or months of their pregnancy.

Meanwhile the hospital was reorganized after the home had opened. Only one floor of one wing was reserved for “unwed mothers,” like my birth mother. These single women  mostly stayed at the maternity home next door. I was born in that wing dedicated to single women, most of whom would never see their children again. There was also a nursery to care for babies. The rest of the hospital’s 194 beds provided private hospital care, including obstetrics, surgery, and pediatric services.

The hospital also continued to be a training facility for residents, from the University of Michigan and Harper Hospital. In my case, the obstetrician who delivered me was completing a residency. He came from overseas, like many other doctors who arrived in the United States and were employed to serve low-income and high-needs patients in inner-urban and rural hospitals.  When I contacted him for an interview, he told me how the hospital provided basic maternal services but also doubled as a residence to single and pregnant women, who lived next door at the home. He remembered the many “girls,” as he called those young, pregnant boarders. He suggested they worked in the facility, likely to pay part of their expenses.

In many cases by the 1960s, those women who stayed at Crittenton homes and hospitals were relinquishing their children to adoption agencies, at the urging of social workers, family, faith-based groups,  churches, and the systems that were created to address out-of-wedlock marriage and illegitimate children. This marked a radical change from the original Crittenton mission to keep mothers and children together. This coincided with societal change that led to hundreds of thousands of unplanned pregnancies and the American social engineering experiment that promoted adoption as “the best solution” to both restore fallen women and find homes for the estimated 2.4 million illegitimately born babies placed for adoption from 1951 through 1973, the year of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States.

One Crittenton center, in Sioux City, Iowa, claims that 98 percent of Crittenton babies were given up for adoption after World War II. (To learn more about how maternity homes functioned in the era of adoption shame and secrecy from the 1950s through 1973, read Anne Fessler’s The Girls Who Went Away.)

A shot of some of the tens of thousands of babies relinquished for adoption through the maternity care facilities run by the National Florence Crittenton Mission. (Source: SIoux City Journal, "Wife of Nobel winner started life at Crittenton Center," Sept.18, 2011.
A shot of some of the tens of thousands of babies relinquished for adoption through the maternity care facilities run by the National Florence Crittenton Mission. (Source: Sioux City Journal, “Wife of Nobel winner started life at Crittenton Center,” Sept.18, 2011.

Crittenton’s legacy serving single, pregnant women disappears from history

A couple of years after I was born, the Crittenton hospital had moved from its inner-city Detroit environs to suburban Detroit, in Rochester. It became known as Crittenton Hospital Rochester. This came immediately after deadly race riots in 1967 that shook the city and left 43 dead and burned more than 1,000 buildings. Detroit was beginning a five-decade-long decay as a once great American city to one that has seen its population fall from 1.8 million souls in 1950 to less than 700,000 as of 2015.

The city’s declining population and expenditures made the Crittenton General Hospital in Detroit too expensive to operate. Occupancy dropped in half by 1973. The Detroit hospital permanently shuttered its doors on March 22, 1974. At the time, I was still a young boy in the St. Louis area. I was completely oblivious to my true origins as a Detroit adoptee who was born and then surrendered into the status of foster child at one of the nation’s preeminent maternal care facilities that promoted adoption. Only decades later I finally pieced together my life and discovered that I literally arrived into the world at the center of the American Adoption experience and experiment.

In 1975, the facility that served as the starting place in life for a generation of adoptees was demolished. The home remained open, run by the Henry Ford Hospital. Though Crittenton General Hospital was reduced to rubble and built over, its ghosts linger in the memory of thousands who were born there or who gave birth there. The former locations today of the hospital and home look more like a war zone, due to Detroit’s struggles to address economic decline and blight.

The suburban hospital that fled from the Motor City is now called Crittenton Hospital Medical Center. The facility’s current web site shows no record how the former and original Detroit facility once served a critical societal and local need helping vulnerable women and children.

Throughout August 2016, I have reached out with multiple emails and phone calls to the hospital in and its communications staff. I have not received any answer to many questions I submitted concerning the hospital’s older records about its service to those woman and adoptees like myself. I did receive some copies of official of pages from an official National Florence Crittention Mission commemorative book, but no answers concerning the number of births and adoptions that were performed at the hospital. I was told in one curt email reply, “Unfortunately we have no historian on staff, however, the website does have a brief description of our history. … Good luck with your endeavor.” Those birth and adoption records may not be available, or the hospital may be intentionally choosing not to draw attention to its former mission serving single, pregnant women and their bastard babies, like me.

The hospital in 2015 reportedly was bought by the St. Louis-based Ascension Health, a Catholic-run care system. It seems far from coincidental that a Catholic-run medical system would downplay or even omit critical historical information how one of its facilities had dedicated decades of service to those who got pregnant out of marriage and paid the terrible price that many organizations, including America’s many Christian faiths and institutions, exacted on those woman and their children. As an adoptee, I find this deeply saddening and at the same time no surprise at all.

It appears the shame and stigma of illegitimacy that the original founders of the mission sought so hard to overcome have not gone away at all in 2016. I doubt any of the tens of thousands of Crittenton babies like myself are surprised.

Note: All of these archival photos of the Crittenton facilities are taken from the 50th anniversary publication by the National Florence Crittenton Mission called Fifty Years’ Work with Girls, 1883-1933: A Story of the Florence Crittenton Homes.

This article was first published on Sept. 3, 2016. It was last updated on Sept. 13, 2016, after I found additional original source material outlining the history of the Crittenton mission in Detroit. I have found two different names for the hospital of my birth: Crittenton General Hospital and Detroit Crittenton Hospital. Because of this inconsistency in officials records, I have updated this blog and will use the former, which is cited more frequently.


33 thoughts on “Detroit’s complex legacy in the National Florence Crittenton Mission

  1. Rudy Owens May 28, 2017 / 12:58 pm

    Update, July 18, 2017: On my website for my forcoming book, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, I have published a new photograph of the Crittenton Maternity Home, adjacent to Crittenton General Hospital. The two facilities worked in tandem. The photo was taken while the facility was undergoing renovation or construction. It is one of the few photographs publicly available now of the home in its former capacity. The National Crittenton Foundation, which succeeded the original Crittenton organizations and is now based on my home town of Portland, provided me a copy to use for the book and websites that provide background on this hospital and other Crittenton maternity homes and hospitals. Go here:

    • margaret January 23, 2018 / 10:41 pm

      I had to get my fathers birth certificate to get him a state id card. I was told by Wayne county that a number of birth records from now closed hospitals were lost in a flood years ago. I went through the state of Michigan to get his. He was born there 01/27/1941. I hope this helps. He was not adopted it was just the closest hospital.

      • Carolynn Inabnit December 15, 2021 / 12:09 pm

        I have a certified copy of my birth certificate from Florence Crittenton Hospital, DOB 12/16/1944. The delivering doctor was James A Flower (?).

        • Rudy Owens January 8, 2022 / 2:22 pm

          It would be good if you could share with everyone Carolynn what method you used to secure this document. Thanks.

      • David Stuart January 9, 2023 / 9:39 am

        I was born there December 8,1938 my
        parents, ages 20 and 23, we’re low income.

  2. columbuscynic July 24, 2017 / 1:00 am

    Came across this looking for where I was born in ’73… Thanks for posting 🙂

  3. Rudy Owens July 30, 2017 / 11:08 am

    Thanks for visiting. There are literally thousands of infants who were delivered, and relinquished, at the hospital and maternity homes run by the Crittenton organization during its long run in Detroit. I’ll be posting a new picture of the hospital shortly on my web site for my forthcoming book on adoption, which includes a history of this hospital: There are very view pictures available from historic records.

  4. Marlene Pelton September 25, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    I was born there on September 19 1942. I weighed less than 3 pounds. they must have done a great job because now I am 75 and in perfect health. I tried to find some records but they said they had been destroyed. Fred Pelton

    • Rudy Owens September 30, 2017 / 11:05 am

      Marlene and/or Fred, thanks for writing. Glad to hear your health is fine. When you say “they said,” here, who is the “they”? Is that the State of Michigan? The hospital was demolished in 1975 and from what I have learned, no one claims to have any hospital records. I would like to know who told you this, because hospital records such as birth information should have been kept, even though everyone I have reached out to claims no records exist. I look forward to your reply. Thanks. Rudy

  5. William Crosby December 7, 2017 / 9:51 pm

    October of 65 myself. Thanks for this article. It fills in some information about my beginnings.

    • Rudy Owens December 7, 2017 / 10:04 pm

      Glad you found this useful. I have another that I will publish. Long story, but a history publication in Michigan claimed it was not “valid research,” despite 30 footnotes and extensive documentation of public records. There is a long record of many publications and even so-called scholarly publications in hiding Michigan’s somewhat stained adoption promotion legacy. This is tied to the stigma of adoptees (bastards like me) and their single mothers, who were kept in hiding because of societal views about out of marriage sex and single motherhood. To date, I’m still searching for accurate records (no one claims to have them) just how many adoptees were born, in Detroit’s Crittenton General Hospital, at least. Cheers.

  6. Juanita M Grohman February 17, 2018 / 7:54 pm

    PS- Thank you so much for this information an article on the Crittenton History & the wonderful help they gave women back then! That’s why I could never find out from Grandma about who my real grandpa is, because everyone back then was ashamed & she got mad at me. So I never asked her again. When I became POA over my mom in 2003, I had to get a copy of her birth certificate, I went online & ordered it later like in 2007 or so; But it was a copy, signed by the State Health Commissioner, Dr. Albert E. Heustis, MD, & was a 1956 copy. All blackened out for some reason, except mom’s real mother’s name & her ADOPTED father’s name. Thanks so much for this article, an any suggestions you may give me from the above comment I posted.

  7. Leslie E. Gerber July 10, 2018 / 10:35 am

    Dear Rudy Owens:

    I just came upon your blog and book today, as I was starting a search relative to my status as a Florence Crittenton baby. Bravo for your tremendous work.

    As we followed the saga of the separated immigrant children recently, I said to my wife: “Hey, I was separated from my mom too.”

    My story is atypical because my mother reclaimed me after a number of months. It was 1944 and I’m not sure how busy the adoption homes were in that fraught year. (I was born in the FCL facility at 2 Ogden St. in Newark, NJ.)

    What I’m interested in learning is what sort of “moral education” or “instruction” mothers received while awaiting their babies’ births. My mother, who thought of herself in those days as a freethinker,
    lived for the rest of her life in fear that she would be “found out.” This included taking on my father’s last name.

    I wonder how much of that panicked shame arose from her time at the Newark facility.

    Can you point me to any writings that deal with the Leagues educational program for its “patients”?

    Again, thank you for your splendid research and writing.


    Leslie E. Gerber

    • Rudy Owens July 10, 2018 / 11:03 pm

      Thanks for your note, Leslie. What is FCL? Is that a maternity home? Hospital? Can you let me know.

      I know there was basic health education for the pregnant wards of these homes. You should do some research at your library on this topic. I would suggest starting with Rachel Kunzel’s book on these facilities: Another book to find is Wake Up Little Susie by Ricki Solling. Barbara Melosh also talks about the experience in these homes: Strangers and Kin. That should provide more than enough reading for a while. I appreciate you visiting my site.

      Your story is unique. The data I’m aware of regarding adoptions by year is published on my book website: Look for adoptions by year in my resources. Adoption data is not officially counted everywhere, and that’s a topic I discuss in my book too. It’s a serious issue, and I believe it was intentional never to provide accurate accounting to hide it.

      Rudy Owens

  8. Sandy K January 17, 2019 / 12:32 pm

    July 1969 – would that have been in Detroit or Rochester?

    • Rudy Owens January 18, 2019 / 7:35 am

      Sandy, I can’t tell what you’re asking. If you are asking where adoption activities took place among these two Florence Critten facilities (Detroit and Rochester), it would have been Detroit, which was the primary facility in Michigan to serve single pregnant woman, with the likely outcome of adoption relinquishment.

  9. Sandy K January 18, 2019 / 8:41 am

    Yes…I was sure I was in Detroit…although I have absolutely blacked out that entire time…very very little memory, only watching the man walk on the moon. Sad. My son and I found eachother in Sept and “met” in Nov…happiest two people in the world. Thanks to

    • Rudy Owens January 18, 2019 / 8:48 am

      Congratulations, Sandy, for your both. One day I would like to interview some of the women who stayed there, as I still would like to write some more articles about the hospital, how its records and legacy have been erased, and the stories of the infants and mothers whose lives were forever impacted there are almost entirely whitewashed from the historic record. You can always contact me on my contact page if that may be of interest. My book ( talks about the hospital and my birth there. My contact page is: Happy for your both.

  10. Michael Traison March 27, 2019 / 6:46 pm

    I was born there on October 3, 1946. We lived only a few blocks away and what was a heavily Jewish neighborhood. My parents had very little money and maybe that’s the reason they went to that hospital. Although my two other brothers were born at woman’s hospital and one in providence hospital . I remember clearly 1952 when my father was hospitalized there with a heart attack. While my mother went upstairs to visit him I played in the Dirt where they were building the John C lodge freeway. That was 1952

    • Rudy Owens March 31, 2019 / 10:22 pm

      Michael: Thanks for sharing your memories. I saw the nearby synagogue, which I think has been converted now to a revivalist type of church. It looked like it was a nice area that, like many areas of Detroit, had feel into decay. So clearly then you were not adopted. I know they had a wing devoted to services to patients who weren’t single birth mothers and who had little income. So it makes sense you were likely cared for there. Thanks for dropping in. I would love to know if you might have a picture to share of the hospital. I can’t find practically any. You can contact me via this link:

  11. Dean June 8, 2019 / 10:02 am

    I learned a lot from this article and it’s obvious you worked hard to write it. But the only thing I don’t like about it is the last line..
    Nope, sorry but you were not born into two families. You were forced into and thrown into your adoptive family. It seems strange to me you would say that after providing all the information you did about how insane it is for the adoption tyrants to demand we consider strangers off the street the same as our blood kin.
    Anyway, I never consider adopters parents, kidnapers yeah, identity thieves yeah but parents never.
    Especially the ones that abuse the hell out of us like mine did.
    I wish Trump would sign an EO to free us of our closed record prison. I think it’ time to appeal to him. I bet the First Lady would support us totally.

    • Rudy Owens May 30, 2020 / 9:43 pm

      Dean I hope you read my book to understand my story. I’m sorry for your experience. I wish you success navigating your journey ahead. Thanks for visiting my site.

  12. patty lawson May 26, 2020 / 7:43 am

    I am not adopted but for reasons to complicated to mention here, I believe that when I was born in Detroit in June 1963, (I am a Caucasian female) my poverty stricken parents 10th child, I may have had a twin that was taken without my parents knowledge or consent At the time, to give up for adoption. I know from other stories that this kind of thing was happening in the 40’s 50’s into the 60’s when the birthing circumstances made it easier for hospital staff to ‘play God’. That was at Detroit Hutzel Women’s Hospital. Was there ever any relationship between Detroit Women’s Hospital and Crittenton Hospital? Have you heard anything About Adoptions out of Detroit Hutzel Women’s Hospital in the past decades that might help me research my questions? Thank you. Patty

  13. Rudy Owens May 30, 2020 / 9:41 pm

    Patty: I know Hazel Hutzel was a major women’s hospital and a longtime institution. I believe it was taken over by the Henry Ford Hospital system. I don’t know if there was a relation with Crittenton General Hospital of Detroit. Crittenton was it’s own entity and was related to what used to be called Crittenton Hospital Rochester, which was gobbled up by Catholic-run Ascension Health, one of the largest “nonprofit” (meaning tax exempt under the guise of being a so-called “non-profit”) hospital systems in the nation. Adoptions at many hospitals were done through social service agencies, and Crittenton Hospital was affiliated with Crittenton Association of America, which promoted adoption. Your birthplace has to be listed on your original birth certificate. You should get a copy of that and see what is listed. As you are NOT adopted, getting that should be straightforward from the vital records office of the Michigan Department of Health and Social Services in Lansing. If you were adopted and born that year, you would face a nearly impossible battle to get your records, as a result of MI’s discrminatory laws denying equal treatment by law to tens of thousands of Michigan-bord adoptees, particularly after WWII and through the 1980s. I am in that category of people who fought the state for decades for my original birth certificate. I wish you luck. Thank you for visiting my website, and you also visit my site to learn more about the state’s treatment of adult adoptees.

  14. Tracy Estes September 29, 2020 / 8:20 am

    Thank you so much Rudy for your hard work in finding out and writing about Florence Crittenton. My mom is a Florence Crittenton baby born in 1955 in the Detroit. She didn’t know much about the facility at all, just that it was demolished. I have been really into researching our family history and as she was adopted we knew next to nothing about her history. She was able to talk with the State of Michigan and they did have birth records for her. They were able to tell her non-identifiable information as it was a closed adoption case. We knew what her name would have been, about her biological mother, nationality, etc. They had the interview the mother gave upon giving the baby up. I just wanted to pass this information along as I know someone mentioned there were no records, etc. Through, and my super sleuth skills, I was able to find my mom’s biological mother (whom is deceased now unfortunately) and we even have been in contact with our newly acquired family. This information was confirmed due to what the state had told my mom and the things the family had told her. Anyway, I really appreciate your articles and information and now knowing a bit more about where my mother was born.

  15. Rudy Owens October 5, 2020 / 9:17 pm

    Thanks for visiting, Tracy. The state treats adoptees as nonpersons, without full legal consideration as people endowed with equal rights. The unfair treatment of adoptees, by statute, as you describe, is a violation of basic legal and human rights as most Americans understand those terms. The state should, by law, have just provided your mom this information. It doesn’t. That needs to change. You can see a longer version of my article on my book website: The book has more information. Some of what I published in my book is in the update article: Thanks for dropping by.

  16. Susan Irish October 14, 2020 / 8:28 am

    Thank you Rudy for starting this Blog. You have given many of us hope. My mother was an adoptee born Jan 6, 1927 and may have been at the Crittenton Maternity Home in Detroit with her birth mother. I looking in to finding a lawyer who can help to unseal my mothers original birth certificate. Her biological mother (my grandmother) was only 14 years old when she gave birth to my mother. I have my mothers legal documents, Certificate of Adoption and the Probate record for Adoption and Name Change. Through Ancestry I was able to find my grandmothers family. I located two of my mothers half-sisters and traveled to meet them. We stay in touch and share pictures and stories. I continue to have more questions. My search now is to find where my mother was from the time of her birth 01/06/1927 until her adoption on 12/18/1928. She may have been at the Maternity Home. Once again, thank you so much.

    • Rudy Owens November 8, 2020 / 8:46 pm

      Susan I am very glad I could help you. The stories of these women, and their kids, are entirely ignored by nearly everyone, most of all the media. So its up to us to keep telling and sharing these stories because what happened to thousands and thousands deserves to be known with the facts and also acknowledged by those who created the system. I I hope you are able to read my book which has more information than what I published here. Find it at:

  17. Rachelle Gianaris January 9, 2021 / 3:55 pm

    This is truly fascinating! Thank you so much for the historical information! My grandmother told me a story about a decade ago now before she passed away about meeting my grandfather during his time serving in the US Navy during WWII while she lived in Monroe, MI, and how she became pregnant and he was sent off and she didn’t have his contact info. She mentioned that she went to a “place for unwed mothers” in Michigan and told me about her experiences there, but I couldn’t remember the name of the place. Long story short, my uncle was born in Detroit in Jan. 1946, my grandfather came back and FOUND HER and his new baby, and they ended up getting married in May 1946, and my dad was born in April 1947. This has to be where my uncle was born, and where she stayed during that time. I can’t wait to read more about it in your book!

    • Rudy Owens January 9, 2021 / 10:24 pm

      Hi Rachel: Thanks for visiting my website and your comment. It’s likely your uncle was born here. There was a hospital for women too, and it could have happened in another hospital that provided maternity services. However, this was a hospital meant for single mothers and also lower-income women, so it’s probable. A hospital name should always be listed on the original vital record. Given all you said, this is likely the place still. My book will have more details than what I provided on my blog, and I presume you already visited my book website at: Best regards.

  18. Kell April 15, 2021 / 10:21 pm

    Found out recently that my father has a big brother some where out there we didn’t know about. All we know was that he was born in the mid 1930s in a “home for unwed mothers” in Detroit. I would like to find out some info if I can but I don’t know where to start. I was hoping you could help me.

  19. Lynn Sisson June 27, 2022 / 6:37 am

    I was born in the Crittenton hospital in 1947. My parents were married and went there because our family doctor was affiliated or perhaps due to limited income. My parents said the night I was born was a nightmare. One emergency after another. The nurse told them the next day that she believed they set a record in baby and mother deaths. Reason: moms too young to birth. Two: one 11, one 12. Babies, not sure of the numbers but reason was lack of prenatal care. Have you found any record source or books discussing this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s