Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bring Back Orphanages?

As has been the case with all of my novels, my new release Pabby's Score confronts a variety of social issues and places a mirror in front of the readers to gauge their true thoughts on some difficult moral questions.  Of course, my characters always have a little fun along the way, but I like to think the political commentary that I include is relevant and a consequential part of my work.

In my latest book, readers are introduced to a couple of a young boy and girl who are products of a special needs home . . . essentially an orphanage for those whose parents are unwilling or no longer able to provide for them. 

Orphanages are mostly a relic of a time past; perhaps we think of Oliver Twist or Annie when we picture a group home.  We envision a dreary environment with gruel for supper and uncaring guardians who had hoped to do something different with their lives.  But, some think that stereotype isn't fair.  In fact, one presidential candidate promoted the resurgence of orphanages when he was Speaker of the House in the mid-1990s.

Newt Gingrich advocated loving, stable orphanges as an alternative to transient foster care and a possible way to end the welfare system as it then existed.  He wanted to move kids out of homes in which parents couldn't afford to care for them without government assistance and into these group environments.  The idea never really caught traction and was derided by many child and family advocacy groups, but his new spotlight as a candidate for the White House got me thinking about his previous agenda, especially since an orphanage of sorts is highlighted in my book.

What do you think of the idea of placing perhaps not children whose parents are struggling financially but maybe those who otherwise would be moved around to numerous foster homes instead into orphanages in which they could live for a long period of time? 

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, and Pabby's Score
Publisher Websites: and


Dawn Torrens said...

My name is Dawn Torrens, @torrenstp, author,mother, blogger. I read you're post on whether orphanages should be brought back. "Absolutley not" I spent most of my child hood in one of these large institutions, which was rife with abuse of many forms. many children suffered at the hands of the very people who were supposed to take care of them. And this was the 70's and 80's not the early 19th century. :)

Janet Vanderhoof said...

It might be a good idea for children that have siblings, that might enable them to have all the family under one roof. I probably will need a home for my son some day. I have been looking for quite awhile and there isn't much available. There is more to having your child just clothed and fed. Love is so important and care that goes beyond the have to's is very important.

Gerry Wendel said...

Wow. Not sure if this is a good idea or not. On the one hand, all children deserve a loving home. On the other hand, many foster parents are in it for the money they get.

We've all read the horror stories. Both fostering and orphanages could exist if some strident rules were set. Better screening of foster parents and smaller orphanage homes where the children would get the attention they need.

CLC said...

I suppose the easiest way to respond to that question would be, how would you like it. Let's see-you could live a long time in an environment that in now way mimics a family or moved about from family to family. Is that really our choice? I think we need to care enough to do better.

Unknown said...

There pros and cons to both side of each issue, especially this one.
While providing the long term care in one stable place for children is a delightful and best type plan. Opening orphanages again where children feel more imprisoned than in a family setting is not good for their psychological or emotion health.
I think that is one of the reasons that orphagaes were done away with, too many children for too frew care givers and the children were not given the emotional stability they needed. Not that being bounced from foster home to foster home where the foster parents don't care that much for them is good either.
I know twosets of parents where I work. One set loves the kids and try to provide as stable place as they can for the children they are entrusted with. The other is just looking for the government payday and not looking to enrich their children's lives at all. I think the foster parents need to be screened more carefully, and checked up on more fully.
Okay, I am rambling, either way, the government is going to be paying for the care of these children with no homes and the tax payers are going to continue to complain about supporrting, them. It is the American way since we started the American Revolution.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I vote no.
If you haven't read Dawn Torren's Amelia's Story, you should. The idea is good but the execution never seems to work. Plus families, even broken and poor families, are important.