stavroula (io_stavroula) wrote in little_details,

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Adoption and Abuse in the 19th Century

Hello, all!

I'm working on a webcomic that takes place mostly in early twentieth-century America, but the story involves a great deal of flashback, so I'm sure I'll be posting here quote frequently now that I've joined (which is good, since you folks know what you're talking about!) 

One of my main characters is a young man who was born in 1875 in Munich, Germany. His mother disappears immediately after he is born, and his father dies in a work-related accident when he is eight years old. He ends up, after being moved around from place to place between people who can't care for him, being placed and abused in a research lab until he is eleven years old. At that age, he is rescued by a well-to-do, respected scientist who is horrified to discover what's been going on in this particular lab. He eventually adopts the boy and raises him himself.

From what I've been able to find on the subject, it's plausible that after a botched adoption or random placing, he would end up in that sort of situation from (roughly) 1883 to 1886, but I couldn't find whether or not this same information pertains to adoption in Germany during this time period. 

There are several things I need to know for this character's backstory, so here's my questions:

  • What would happen to a young orphaned child in Munich, Germany in the mid-1880's? Were closed adoptions just coming into normalcy there like they were in the United States during this period? Would it be plausible for him to end up being taken in by a medical or scientific research lab and abused (until he is rescued at age eleven, that is)? Once he is rescued, would it be easy for his rescuer (the well-to-do scientist) to adopt him?
  • What sort of abuse would the boy be subjected to during 1883 - 1886? If he underwent human experimentation during this time, would it be controversial? What kind of scars might this sort of abuse leave on him, physically and psychologically, and what might some of those physical scars look like?
  • If he was in good health by the time he reached his late twenties in 1905, would his history of medical/scientific abuse impact his immigration to the United States in any way? 

I have researched these topics through the internet and through my local library and city library, as well as buying history books from my local bookstores, but I haven't been able to find any particular information on what I was looking for. I figured I would try and cover it all here, so I apologize if any of these questions are too vague or broad. Please let me know if I should add any additional specifics! (I've also tried to tag this entry correctly - let me know if it needs changes!)

Thanks so much!

Tags: 1880-1889, 1900-1909, germany: history, usa: history (misc)

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