Tomorrow is a crazy day so I'm blogging "O" for tomorrow.
Last night 20/20 had an excellent show following two expectant girls, one 15 the other 18, as they struggled with making adoption plans. This led me to consider orphans.
Today we don't hear about orphans. We hear of children who have been abandoned or neglected (or abused or killed) and of parents who have lost custody. I recently met a woman, I'll call Jill, whose mother abandoned her and her three siblings. Their father was a soldier and an alcoholic. He placed the children in an orphange. The woman lived there from age seven until seventeen. She liked it, was well treated and safe. Years later she hired a dectective to find her mother although family rumor was that her father had killed the mother. Yes, she did find her mother, but at first the woman denied her and the evidence she produced. Jill became an emotional orphan.
Orphan trains existed in the late 1800s. Over population of indigent immigrants, especially in New York City, led to many abandonded children. The mid-west, however, with farms and ranches worked by large families, needed workers, so train loads of children were sent West.
Reaching a small town, the children were "put up" onto benches or platforms for the prospective parents to evaluate. Children were taken in as family members and contributed to the family workforce as did natural-born children. Interviews with many of these adopted children, as elderly adults, revealed that they were treated well and had positive memories.
The term "put up" for adoption comes from this era and is a mis-nomer for today. Expectant parents now "make adoption plans." The mother (and sometimes the father) use an agency that has prescreened prospective adoptive parents. The applicants present a scrapbook and letters telling about themselves and their desire for a child. Birth parents select their adoptive parents. They can meet, share family information, and arrange an adoption that is as open as they agree upon.
Few children today are legally orphans but many children are emotional orphans because their parents are so involved with making a living, and personal lives that the child is left to raise him/her self.