‘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 biography, one that my five year old questioned, ‘why can’t you choose your family?’
Charlie’s mother abandoned her seven children at the Young and Jacksons Hotel in Melbourne in 1924. 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 often neglected and exploited for the benefit of their carers.
Most of the children weren’t orphans, but their carers often told them children their parents were dead.
© 2015 Kendrea Rhodes All Rights Reserved.
…biography still in progress, follow KendreArt’s blog to keep up and read other posts about painting and writing Charlie’s life;
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.