Basically, the characters in this story have taken in two children whose mother is dead and whose father was recently killed in a construction accident. The new potential family is very well-off, though a little unconventional in that the household consists of two men and a woman, none of whom are related to each other. The kids are 3 and 5 and grew up in one of the tenement areas of the city. They're now homeless and have no family. Does anyone have any specific information on the process of adoption in this place at this time? Would they even have to bother with legal adoption if the children have no family?
My research has turned up information about the Orphan Train program, about the shift from orphanages to fosterage, adoption, and indenture, and about the huge numbers of orphan and homeless children in the large urban centers. I understand that if these kids, like many children of immigrants and the poor, were born at home and not registered, they might not even legally exist, and that government welfare programs were in their infancy at this time. I just can't find information specific to the actual adoption process.