Unadopted Orphans: Citizens of Another Universe
There has been a large body of literature over the years
is devoted to the structure of the family in America. Before the sexual revolution of the late 1960s, the traditional family unit was mother, father and children.
However, as the divorce rate rose to over fifty percent, the family structure evolved into myriad single-parent and blended families. Things aren’t as simple as they were in the days of “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver.”
There is a growing body of work describing the psychological and sociological adaptations of the adoptive family, adoptees and, to a lesser extent, biological parents who have given up their child for adoption either by choice or by unavoidable circumstances.
Interestingly, very little attention is given to orphans who have never been adopted.
In the movie “The Cider House Rules”, the main character Homer was adopted several times only to be returned because he was either too “quiet” for one couple or was abused by another.
Consequently, Homer grew up in the orphanage, never to be adopted again. Instead, he was trained by the doctor who ran the “home” to be an “unofficial doctor” who either performed abortions or helped babies to be adopted.
At one point in the movie, Homer was trying to provide comfort to another orphan named Curly. Curley couldn’t seem to understand why the prospective adoptive parents who came to “see” the children at the orphanage never chose him.
Homer explained to Curley that he was “too special to be adopted by anyone”. Only a very special family can have a Curly. It was never made clear if Curley ever believed Homer’s attempt to ease the little boy’s pain.
What happens to orphans who are not selected for adoption? Where are they going? What are they doing?
In the late 1960s, a significant number of teenage orphans were asked to leave school and join the army. It was easier to watch younger kids than older kids with raging hormones.
Some orphans have indeed dropped out of school and worked full-time. Most were drafted and sent to Vietnam.
Perhaps an unknown number of orphans managed to struggle long enough to graduate from high school. There was probably a smaller group that applied to colleges. Perhaps an infinitesimal number even graduate from college and go on to successful jobs or careers.
The difficulty is the lack of documentation regarding how many children have left orphanages without being adopted and managed to lead productive lives. Were they able to complete their formal education? Have they developed the entrepreneurial flair to become successful businessmen? Have they been prosperous in love, marriage and parenthood?
So very little is known about these people and even less is understood about what life was like for them that they might as well be from another universe.
Would most people who have parents, by birth or adoption, understand these people?
When asked, most cannot imagine life without a family. They never thought about what it would feel like to be alone on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even worse, to be alone on your birthday.
There needs to be more anecdotal research on young men and women who leave orphanages without the benefit of a family or parent to guide them on their path to adulthood. Did anyone succeed, or did most fail? Did they perpetuate the circle of life and create children only to abandon them to grow up alone in orphanages?
Perhaps they continued their quest for “belonging” as they worked their way through college and eventually graduate school. It is possible that some of them have waited for the right marriage partner to come along and have found satisfaction in being a loving husband for life, as well as a devoted mother or father, determined to be all that they can imagine, or that, which God wants them to be.
For many, it may be enlightening to know what it would be like to be a citizen of another universe.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
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