Orphan Train and Modern Adoption Laws
At this time, when one hears or reads a story of an Orphan Train child, it would spur different emotions – from compassion to the children “placed-out” children to anger for the government. In these modern times, the US Government have already established certain laws for the safety of children that are put into adoption. We have the Social Welfare agency as well as different institutions that protect the orphans. At this time, when a couple plan to adopt a child, they would undergo different adoption procedures, such as interviews and psychological tests in able to determine if they are fit to take care of the child.
This is very different to the way they do adoption during the times of the Orphan Train. This was a project to provide homes for orphan children, but it did not aim to provide them the needs that these orphans want. Basically, this was a movement wherein “children will be sent by train to live and work on farms out west.” Instead of living the life that a normal children do, these children would turn out to be farmers or housemaids that would do chores around the house for people who adopted them. Although some of the children have good experiences, most of them end up with bad experiences and some would run away.
According to Marilyn Holt, a researcher, “Many children fell through the cracks; they were mistreated, malnourished, and overworked. However, for at least half, it was a good experience. They had opportunities they would not have had if they stayed where they were. They may not even have survived childhood (Snively, 2012).
This movement went on from 1853 to the early 1900s, placing more than 120, 000 out in the farms for adoption (The Children’s Aid Society, 2012).
Adoption takes a great toll on children especially when they underwent bad experience. This is most often felt when they reach adolescence. Even adolescents that live with their biological parents experience several issues, most especially, clinical issues. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), children, when they reach adolescence, often undergo clinical issues such as “being unable to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, and being diagnosed with mental illness at a certain age, although they seemed to be normal at a previous age” (SAMSHA, 2004).
One government agency that helps children is the Child Protective Services (CPS). This agency, which exists in many states in the United States, is the responsible for countering several cases of neglect and child abuse.
Another agency that helps and protects children is The Children’s Aid Society, who help impoverished children to thrive and succeed in their society. This agency gives comprehensive support for poor children and their families, especially around New York.
With the abundance of different government and non-government agencies that are willing to provide help for orphan children or impoverished children around the country, there is a higher hope for these children to grow into a loving family and experience success in the future. With this, there is no need to go back to the Orphan Train.
Snively, J. (2012). “Charles Frederick”. National Orphan Train Complex, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.orphantraindepot.com/CharlesFrederickStory.html
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMSHA (2004). “Clinical Issues with Children and Adolescents”. SAMSA. Retrieved from http://pathwayscourses.samhsa.gov/bully/bully_supps_pg43.htm
The Children’s Aid Society. (2012). “The Orphan Trains”. ChildrensAidSociety.Org. Retrieved from http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/about/history/orphan-trains