According to the Code, the estado civil defined "one's status as a parent or a child; legitimate or illegitimate; married, widowed, or single; or as an adult or minor still subject to parental authority." (134) Hence, the state based civil personhood on an individual's kinship ties.
The Casa de Huerfanos, entrusted by the state with caring for many orphans, further established the children in its care as orphans by denying the existence of their illegitimate fathers.
Using court and notary records, Milanich focuses on families that took in kinless children, as well as the children themselves, to conclude that child circulation constituted a form of welfare provision for illegitimate children.
As a consequence, illegitimate children found themselves in new webs of exploitation and dependencies, as they became domestic labourers in plebeian households.
Not all illegitimates faced hostility from their families and neighbors, but this did not mean that they escaped all the difficulties.
Another person in the same situation, concluded flatly, "I find it hard to forgive my mother for 'lying' to me by her silence when I was young." (68) Even illegitimates with basically happy lives regretted having no relationship with their fathers.
C3P daimed not to have experienced the teasing and cruelty that other illegitimates remembered.
Did things improve for illegitimates over the century?
In addition, the children's status as "outsiders" helps to highlight several broad themes in the working-class family which can be hidden when the subjects of historical study fit more comfortably into the family "norm." For instance, although much working-class history has emphasized the importance of the mother, the experience of illegitimates makes it dear just how crucial the relationship with the father was for children.
Further, the experience of illegitimates can revise the notion of the supremacy of the "nuclear" family by the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The experience of illegitimates also revises some major ideas in the history of children.
The legal position and disabilities of illegitimates remained largely unchanged until late in the 20th century, unaffected by the family law reforms of the 1920s and the general loosening of standards during the two world wars.