Is it possible to research adoptions from among the native people by Whites? My great-grandfather may have been Native American (or part), according to family story, but so far haven't found anything legal.


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Records of a legal adoption should be found in the probate court of the county where it was finalized. Here's the relevant Maine statute in 1901 for the adoption of children.

I would imagine that adoptions of native children by white families would be handled the same way, but of course, not all adoptions were formalized.
This would have been in the 1850s or 60s as he was born in 1857.
That's around the time that states began implementing modern adoption laws. Maine's was passed a year or two before your great-grandfather was born, and was very similar to the Massachusetts Adoption of Children Act of 1851.

At that early date, I think it's doubtful that you would find a record of an adoption or even a guardianship. Unless the child had inherited assets from a deceased parent, or the adopting parents were wealthy and wanted to ensure that the child shared in their estate, they probably wouldn't have needed formal recognition of the relationship. The child would have just been "taken in."
That's what I thought, doesn't make it easy to do genealogy.

Mary, I have a very similar problem from roughly the same era. My great-grandmother is said to have been Native American and adopted, but thus far she is listed as "white" in all the censes. She was born in 1861 (and it's pretty clear in her picture that she is not white). - Ava

Yes, we are going by photos of family members and legends. Nothing documentary.

A relative told me her obit from the 1950s listed her birth name (at least her first name), so I'm hopeful they can locate that again. If not, I'll look for newspaper archives the next time in the area. If you are interested in the subject of Maine Indians generally, there is a book titled "Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians by Neil Rolde (2004) which is informative (generally speaking). 


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