Orphanages, Foster care and Adoption
Living is a harsh time and community wasn’t only difficult for the parents, but for their children. Kids were put on the streets and left to strive for themselves, leaving most to die or take up harsh jobs which in the end, could kill you. The development of orphanages, foster care, and mostly adoption from 1900’s until present day, helped children from living in a bad home or the streets to having a stronger and healthier life. Living in poverty is difficult but giving your kid a safe home is important. As orphanages slowly became scarce in our country, new and better ways of child support and care have been improved by foster homes and even better, adoption.
“Orphanages developed in a time were institutions seemed to solve many of the problems, including poverty. The vast majority of orphanages were developed by Protestants, Catholics, or Jews. Some orphanages were strictly for black children only. Children were often housed with the ill, insane, and with criminals. Sometimes even disease would kill a lot of children in one house. These houses were meant for children who were considered delinquents or houses of refuge. Yet telling the difference between delinquent and dependent children was a hard line to see.”(Orphans and Orphanages)
“The vast majority of orphanages were privately funded and staunchly sectarian, established by Protestants, Catholics, or Jews for their coreligionists. By 1860 Americans had founded almost 200 orphanages. Catholic dioceses, responding to their large immigrant and often impoverished constituencies, led the way until 1880.” (Orphans and Orphanages) Most orphanages were near the neighborhoods of the families they serve, and parents could visit their children and were supposed to contribute to their support. Not all orphans were parentless just simply children of the poor. A parent could just be unable to care for their children because of unemployment, physical or mental disorders, or death of a spouse. Sometimes epidemics would strike a town and leave parents dead and children homeless. Orphanages were solutions for most families in poverty. They could have been sent to orphanages by public officials because they judged the parents negligent and incapable of caring for their children. Most spent months or weeks and usually rejoined their families after the parents had recouped or family fortunes had come into play. A small amount of orphanages sent children off to boarding schools to learn a trade such as farm work or house work. Reverend Charles Loring Brace created a system called orphan trains. This would send children by train to live on a farm to learn Christian values and be taught useful agricultural skills for their future. Parents often wanted Brace to take their children but other kids were chosen before them. Parents preferred orphanages over foster care because they didn’t want their children to love their foster families over themselves. Yet critics disapproved the thought of having people’s children raised by strangers. They thought unwilling parents were taking advantage of public institutions to take care of their own children. People argued that you should have to take care of your child because they are yours and the public’s problem. In the 1910’s the states intended to solve these problems and have parents raise their own children at home by initiating mothers’ or widows pensions. Foster care is some-what of a healthier version of orphanages. Foster care is like the informal or formal care of children outside of their own biological families. These were provided homes for children who were parentless or poor just to maintain the order of the changing social classes. Sending kids out into the farming lands convinced some people that it would be a non-abusive and loving place for the too live. Sending them to learn good ‘ole Christian values and skills to help in farming or...
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