The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


NEW YORK, Monday—Last week I went to the graduation ceremonies of the Rhodes School here and I was impressed by how well they have succeeded in that school in integrating many nationalities and many religions.

One of my young nieces was in the city with me and I also succeeded in getting two tickets for "Twentieth Century," which we both enjoyed thoroughly.

I had a visit the other day from Miss Thelma Johnson Streat, who is going to give her opening performance in this country on July 15 at the Ziegfeld Theatre, here. She has been in France, England, Ireland, Mexico and Hawaii. She was born in Yakima, Wash., and is part Cherokee and part American Negro.

Miss Streat began her career as a painter and designer. She has now developed into a dancer with a peculiar art of her own, a kind of lyric dance evolved from the ritualistic and tribal lore of many primitive races. I was very much interested in talking to her and I hope she may have the same success here that she has had abroad.

I heard a story the other day that sounded to me like Alice in Wonderland. As you know, if one marries abroad our laws make it fairly easy for a husband or wife of foreign birth to enter this country. But if one adopts a child abroad, it may be very, very difficult for the child.

Now, this friend of mine a little while ago adopted a little boy in Italy. She brought him home and took him to Mexico where she has a house. It never occurred to her that once a child is adopted by an American citizen he would not be accepted in the United States just as any other child would be. She soon found out, however, that that was not the case. He must be placed on the quota in Mexico and it will be at least a year before he can be admitted to this country where she is a citizen.

She earns a living by writing and it is not always easy to find the proper person to leave him with in Mexico when she must go on an assignment. Now, if he does finally get on the quota and is admitted to the United States, he must live continuously for two years in the United States. Then she will probably have to re-adopt him under American law.

All the way along the line this woman has sat for hours in officials' offices. She has filled out endless papers. She has paid high law fees and she will continue to do so. As she told me the tale I could not help thinking of the opera, "The Consul," which I had seen a year or so ago. In that case we were given a picture of a dictatorship with its endless papers and hours and hours of waiting in the consul's outer office.

Sometimes I wonder if the people who make laws really think of how they might work when applied to human beings. Here is a young woman who was touched by the plight of Italian children about whom she was writing. She fell in love with a little boy in an orphanage and has gladly given love and care. But it must sometimes seem to her that instead of cooperation in the enterprise of saving one small boy and making him grow up into a fine and healthy American citizen, every possible delay and difficulty has been placed in her path.

Surely, it is all according to law, but it makes one wonder sometimes if the laws are made to destroy human beings or to be a help to them.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 3, 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.