‘Abandoned’ – by Kendrea Rhodes
a snippet from a story about a boy lost in institutional care in the 1920s
We left him to rest, or so we thought.
In the hospital lobby I realized my son was missing, so we retraced our steps back to my grandfather’s room. The picture was memorable: an 89 year old man chatting to his 5 year old great-grandson.
Noticing me at the door, Charlie quickly whispered in his great-grandson’s ear, ‘You can’t choose your family.’
That message is the reason for this short story and the many more that follow; and the reason that my five year old asked, ‘Why can’t you choose your family?’
Charlie’s mother abandoned her seven children at Young and Jacksons Hotel in Melbourne in 1926. All seven children became wards of the State of Victoria and were sent to separate orphanages, institutions and foster homes; living in an unaccountable and unrecorded system of care.
During the early twentieth century, approximately half a million children experienced care in institutions or ‘out of home’. Known as ‘Forgotten Australians’, they lived in an unsupervised system sometimes neglected and exploited for the benefit of their carers. Many children weren’t orphans, but their carers told them that their parents were dead.
…follow KendreArt’s blog to keep up and read other posts about Charlie:
further research on these interesting websites:
Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA) is a national alliance of Forgotten Australians and supporters working in partnership to advocate for, and promote, national policies and services to meet the needs and interests of Forgotten Australians.
Find and Connect provides history about Australian orphanages, children’s homes and other institutions.