Orphan Survival Stories Index |
THE LEVEL OF KIDS
One of the first things I learned when I walked through the doors of the Children's Home Society in Jacksonville, Florida, was that there are different levels (of status) depending on if you had parents or not. I and my little sister where taken to the orphanage when I four, and my sister was two.
We were on the bottom level 'cause we had living parents who signed us over to the orphanage. In the orphanage's eyes that meant we had done something so bad we were no longer wanted by our family.
The next level was kids were those who had a relative, such as an aunt, uncle or a cousin. These kids were generally visited about once a month by their relatives and given candy.
The top level were the kids who had no one. No living family. These children were considered more adoptable.
I overhead over heard matron telling the other pink matrons (color of their uniforms) not to do anything to them as they could be adopted and maybe there would be gifts for the matrons if they were adopted.
A few weeks after I was taken to the Children's Home I was looking out the window and saw my mother coming up the walkway. My mother looked hurt on the side of her head. I tried to get out the door to reach her. One of the matron's grabbed me by the arm and tried to stop me. I bit the matron and we struggled to the ground. It took three matrons to grab me and throw me into a closet. I screamed, as loud as I could, and beat I on the door until I got so tired that I fell to the floor. I sat there rocking back and forth for more than an hour.
When the door was finally unlocked I was grabbed by the arm and lifted off the floor. The matron was laughing and told me that I was nothing but a bad, dirty little girl. She smiled when she told me that my mother had just signed papers saying she no longer wanted me, or my sister.
The matron made it very clear that since we kids were so bad the orphanage could do anything to us that they wanted. That no one cared what happened to us.
The kids on the first level were allowed to get the pick of the clothes that were dropped off by rich people. They also got clean panties and ones that fit correctly and did not fall down. They got to play on the swings and have one toy. The matrons would sometimes give them ice cream or pat them on the head. They never got hit and they were the ones who were dressed nicely when people would come who wanted to take a kid home, for a possible adoption. The rest of us were put in a room, with the door shut and locked. Told that we had best be quiet until the adult people left the orphanage property.
It was on one of my trips to the hospital that my little sister was adopted. When I got out of the hospital I could not find her any where. I was told that she was now clean. No longer bad, dirty and ugly like me.
"Some very nice people have taken her home with them," said the matron.
I started crying and was, once again, thrown into the closet. But at least this time I had clothes on so I could be warm while lying on the wood floor.
"Oh mommy why did you do it? Why did you give us away like that? What did I do that was so bad? Please tell me?" I cried out loud.
In 1962 after I had turned 21 years; I found where my little sister was living and I set out to meet her. At the time I was living in New York and she was in Florida. When I met her she was married and had a young daughter who was not walking yet. She was cute as a button. I met the woman who had adopted my sister. She was a lawyer and she told me that she had wanted to adopt me also. That the Children's Home Society was supposed to tell her when I got out of the hospital. She was contacted by the orphanage shortly after I got out of the hospital. They told her that I was mentally retarded and was now classified as non-adoptable.
Meantime I had graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida and was working at a large hospital in White Plains, NY.