Children are happy gifts

Some expectations about adoption, nearly a hundred years ago.

The Mansfield Shield
December 24, 1915

Seventy-seven once childless homes in state are happy today. - Some homes saddened because baby for adoption was not forthcoming.

By Associated Press.

Columbus, O., Dec. 24 - Sunny-faced children were the Christmas gifts which brought joy today to 77 homes in Ohio that would have been childless except for adoption during the past year of thee small ward of the board of state charities.

A score of other homes were saddened by news that their greatest wish - a baby for adoption by Christmas time - could not be granted, because there are "not enough babies to go 'round."

"Families will have to begin their Christmas shopping earlier next year if they want real live babies for gifts." said C.V. Williams, director of the children's welfare bureau of the board of state charities.

Here are typical extracts from letters on file at the board's office:
"My husband and I are very anxious for a baby to adopt before Christmas this year."

"It will be a dead Christmas at our house if we can't find a child who can be ours for all time."

"The little boy we took to raise is looking forward anxiously to his first Christmas with us, but we are expecting more pleasure from our first Christmas with him."

A Columbus family chose to adopt a four-year-old boy a week ago rather than receive money for taking care of him until next spring, because they wanted him to be "theirs only" for the the Christmas stocking celebration. They already had one child or their own.

The board has found homes for 77 children in the past year, and now has about 25 others for whom it wants to find permanent homes. Comparatively little of this kind of work is done by the state board, however. Most children are place in homes by the management of the institutions of which they are wards.

The state board has refused babies to a number of families who wanted them by Christmas, either because the child's or the prospective parents' records had not been investigated thoroughly.

It was estimated today that 10,000 children, fatherless and motherless are in county, church or fraternal homes within Ohio and will be dependent on these institutions for holiday entertainment.


A Speedy Process

APs haven't changed much, have they? Still wanting a speedy process and ...a baby as a gift.
Wow, 10,000 "orphans" in Ohio in 1915? Really?

One of the Children's Homes (aka Orphanage), is now a Christian School campus in Xenia Ohio, known as the
Xenia Christian School Campus.

It was formerly the "Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home".

The property is now owned by "Legacy Ministries International".

The Demise of Orphanages

One has to understand that at one time, many orphanages in the US were well run, as they are in many other countries today.
The rise of the welfare system and the creation of the foster care system saw to its demise.

A Home of Their Own: The Story of Ohio's Greatest Orphanage, by Edward Lentz

The Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home came into its remarkable life during the 1870s, a moral response to the debt owed Ohio families damaged and destroyed by their fealty to the great national struggle just ended the American Civil War. On a desolate hilltop just outside the Green County town of Xenia, Ohio, an entire park-like campus sprang into being. By the turn of the century, a thousand children were housed, clothed, fed, and educated at the place they called the Home. It was nearly 500 acres containing, among other things, a farm, its own power plant, an extensive trades school, playing fields and total self-sufficiency.

For a hundred years or more, the Home was one of America s most remarkable institutions. Late in the century, however, powerful shifts in the culture conspired against it. The emerging foster care system and its advocates using the negative image of poorly managed institutions, selected figures and statistics, dwindling political support by the once powerful veterans, and a difficult new demographic of seriously disturbed children - all this eroded its once formidable presence.

Historian Edward Lentz s carefully reconstructed history bolstered by dozens of photographs and voices of the children is a compelling story, provoking the question: Should we once again consider orphanages as a way of caring for parentless children?

Rethinking Orphanages for the 21st Century, by Richard B. McKenzie

This volume reviews the policy reforms necessary in the United States for children's homes to become reliable solutions for many of the nation's disadvantaged and abused children. The contributors explore a variety of topics including: judicial issues; child maltreatment; the history of children's homes; regulation and funding; and solutions for reform.

Interesting insight on how strengthening the orphanage system did provide for many children and kept children safer than the welfare system or the foster system that was created due to the closure of orphanages:

The topic was “Building the Invisible Orphanage” by author Matthew A. Crenson.

Ostermeier revealed that she has long had an interest in orphanages and why they are no longer in existence, after her mother shared with her many years ago that her cousin was raised in the former Soldiers and Sailors Home in nearby Xenia. In the 1960s-1970s, foster care became the replacement for the abandoned orphanages, and Ostermeier said she had read several stories about foster care and foster home abuse. In fact, Ostermeier surmised that we needed to re-examine orphanages as an alternative to foster homes and foster care.

In reading Matthew Crenson’s book, she found that just the opposite had occurred. The book examines the connection between the decline of orphanages as a means to rescue poor and abused children, and the beginning of the welfare system. Crenson proposes that the welfare system, as we have known it, is directly rooted in a previous generation’s rejection of orphanages.

It is difficult to make a case for or against the orphanage in general. Aside from the fact that different children have different needs, orphanages themselves were about as variable as families. A few were run like private prep schools or wholesome farm families, while others resembled prisons. Yet, even if they do not entirely deserve their generally-accepted, Dickensian reputation, orphanages do suffer from distinct liabilities. The most obvious was their cost.

Institutional care for children was much more costly than leaving children with their single mothers on welfare. It took no great effort of imagination to move from the idea of boarding children in the homes of strangers to the notion that they might be boarded within their own families.

The Mother’s Pension of 1935, the precursor to Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC), known more familiarly as welfare, was born. The work of the orphanage had been translated into “a check in the mail.”

Ostermeier then introduced the book “A Home of Their Own: The Story of Ohio’s Greatest Orphanage” by author Edward Lentz. The book deals with the former Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home, which is considered to have been quite simply one of the best places of its kind. The facility was a home to more than 13,000 children over a period of 125 years. It was a school, a military training center, a religious place, a farm and a social institution.

A strong proponent of revisiting implementation of orphanages is Richard B. McKenzie, a child who grew up in such an orphanage. In his 1999 volume of edited essays “Rethinking Orphanages for the 21st Century,” McKenzie argues that orphanages are not for everyone. But then they never were. He and his contributors focus on the inadequacies of the present system, of the need to “reform welfare and an increasingly challenged system of foster care and adoption.” Ostermeier then shared with the group several of McKenzie’s ideas and proposals to deal with foster care, a system McKenzie believes is broken and seriously in need of repair.

At this juncture, the meeting was opened to the group for discussion, led by a panel of three Clinton County social work professionals who were either present or former child welfare professionals. Included on the panel were Lisa Sweetman, Beth Rice and Brenda Haley. A lively discussion ensued until the meeting adjourned.

Pound Pup Legacy