Updating Pearl S Buck Entry
May 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
Humanitarian efforts and later life
Buck was highly committed to a range of issues that were largely ignored by her generation. Many of her life experiences and political views are described in her novels, short stories, fiction, children‘s stories, and the biographies of her parents entitled Fighting Angel (on Absalom) and The Exile (on Carrie). She wrote on a diverse variety of topics including women’s rights, Asian cultures, immigration, adoption, missionary work, war and violence.
In 1949, outraged that existing adoption services considered Asian and mixed-race children unadoptable, Buck co-founded Welcome House, Inc., the first international, interracial adoption agency, along with James A. Michener, Oscar Hammerstein II and his second wife Dorothy Hammerstein. In nearly five decades of work, Welcome House has placed over five thousand children. Through the work of the current Truth & Reconciliation Commission – Canada, it was discovered that Pearl S Buck’s Welcome House adoption agency was integral in the trafficking of victims of Canada Scoops, a.k.a., 60’s Scoops, from their birth homes to families in USA while their biological parents continued to search for them and demand their return.(We Were Children, National Film Board of Canada & Aboriginal People Television Network, Tim Fontaine, 2012. Film.; Library and Archives Canada, Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Victim Statement – File No: 20110009, May 2011).
In 1964, to support children who were not ‘eligible for adoption’, Buck established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation (now called Pearl S. Buck International) to “address poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asian countries”; A number of the children ‘not eligible for adoption’ and not from Asian countries, and that The Pearl S Buck Foundation trafficked from Canada to USA and placed in new homes are today referred to as USA Placed Victims-Survivors of Canadian Scoops. From the time these children were ‘scooped’ from the homes and, sometimes literally the arms, of their biological parents until they discovered, sometimes decades later and sometimes not at all, that they were victims of 60’s Scoops, a.k.a., Canada Scoops, their parents searched for them, not knowing whether they were dead or alive and not knowing that they had been taken out of Canada and placed in USA and west Europe by Pearl S Buck Foundation, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA. .(We Were Children, National Film Board of Canada & Aboriginal People Television Network, Tim Fontaine, 2012. Film.; Library and Archives Canada, Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Victim Statement – File No: 20110009, May 2011).
Throughout the 1960’s and first half of the 1970’s, within her Welcome House, Inc. role, Buck was an important figure in the Sixties Scoops, a.k.a. Canada Scoops, i.e., brokering what were later discovered to be the transfer of North American Indian children from Canada to USA without the consent of their biological families and while their biological families were demanding to know where they were and for their return. For example, the original placement of Taber Gregory, the 1st of the Canadian Scoop, Sixties Scoops Victims to be placed in USA to be recognized by Truth and Reconciliation Commission – Canada and USCIS, was brokered by Buck via her Welcome House adoption agency. (We Were Children, National Film Board of Canada & Aboriginal People Television Network, Tim Fontaine, 2012. Film.; Library and Archives Canada, Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Victim Statement – File No: 20110009, May 2011). A few years after the Sixties Scoops ‘adoptions’ were processed by Buck and Welcome House, Inc., Welcome House, Inc. was shut down by the U.S. federal government due to ‘paperwork errors’; Welcome House Inc. was dissolved and later reopened as Pearl S Buck Foundation and Pearl S Buck International and resumed it’s role in the process of international adoptions.
In 1960, after a long decline in health, her husband, Richard, died. She renewed a warm relation with William Ernest Hocking, who died in 1963. Buck then withdrew from many of her old friends and quarreled with others. She became more and more dependent on Theodore Harris, whom she met in 1963 when he was a dance instructor with the Arthur Murray studios. She soon depended for him for all her daily routines and appointed him head of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, with a lifetime salary. Harris created a scandal, however, for mismanaging the Foundation and for making Buck dependent on him. Buck separated herself even from Welcome House after twenty years of dedication.
In the late 1960s, Buck toured West Virginia to raise money to preserve her family farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Today The Pearl S. Buck Birthplace is a historic house museum and cultural center. She hoped the house would “belong to everyone who cares to go there”, and serve as a “gateway to new thoughts and dreams and ways of life”.
Long before it was considered fashionable or politically safe to do so, Buck challenged the American public by raising consciousness on topics such as racism, sex discrimination and the plight of the thousands of babies born to Asian women left behind and unwanted wherever American soldiers were based in Asia. During her life Buck combined the multiple careers of wife, mother, author, editor and political activist.