There’s been a legal case in the news this week–Robertson vs. Princeton. It’s a issue of donor intent. The Robertson family has been battling for control over the Robertson Foundation which was created to prepare students for careers in government service through Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs. The family claims Princeton has misused the donation. The problem is that times have changed. The government now outsources this type of work and the Princeton program has turned into a business degree factory instead, as the family intended, a training ground for diplomats.
Donors never know what the future will hold.
NPR, in their reporting on this case, cited the example of a a donor who, in the 50’s, left a sum of money for homes for unwed mothers. When was the last time you heard of one of those places? Social change has rendered that particular donor’s wishes obsolete.
I thought I would end up in a home for unwed mothers, but because I kept my pregnancy a secret until 6 weeks before my son was born, I had to be hustled out of town to the most readily available place–a foster family who had a farm out in the countryside about 60 miles from my hometown.
I learned an interesting fact about the adoption agency that handled my son’s adoption. It began in 1896 as a “home for wayward girls” (so described by the current director of the agency.) It seems that the mothers and children were housed there together. The “girls” were counseled and attended an industrial training school while the babies were eventually placed for adoption. I would love to know if the mothers were allowed to be with their babies or if they were kept apart. In 1970, when my son was born, babies were whisked away in the delivery room and the mothers were not allowed to see them.