Friendless Kids: Then and Now

During the winter of 1937, with no warning, my mother dropped off my brother, sister, and me at the Home for the Friendless in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She said, “This is a nice place. You’ll like it here, and I’ll visit you every week.” We were met by Mrs. Kurl, who looked grim, but turned out to be a nice lady. She gave us a tour, and the place was so big our voices echoed in the halls.

At that time, during The Great Depression, childrens’ homes were full of kids whose parents could not afford to take care of them properly.  Although I knew that, I still felt abandoned.  Since I didn’t want my younger brother and sister to be scared, I wore my happy face, but when I found out we would be separated into three different dorms, I couldn’t hide my sadness.

The foster parent program today may avoid some of the issues that arise from housing children in institutions, but foster kids still have a rough entry into life at 18 when they roll out of the program.

What is your experience with children who feel abandoned?  Are you a foster parent or a counselor?  Did you grow up with both parents and still feel alone sometimes?

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  • http://www/ Stephanie Barko

    As the only child of working parents from the time I was 3, I frequently felt alone and misunderstood. Although I was provided the things in the 60′s that my father lacked growing up in the Depression, I didn’t have his time, his attention and the overt evidence of his love that I so desperately wanted. He died young and my mother and I were unable to bond until the last year of her life 26 years hence.

    You don’t have to be in an orphanage to feel like an orphan.

    I like Betty’s book because her young life is what it looks like when a person chooses to make lemons out of lemonade. Her book shows that it’s not what you start out with that matters. It’s what you think and feel and the decisions you make that determine who you become.

  • Robyn Engel

    Hi Betty. I’m reading your book and enjoying every bit of it. So far, my biggest laugh was when Bobby thought Pearl Harbor was a woman.

    As a social worker, I have over 15 years of experience with children in the foster care system. This state’s system is -not surprisingly- appallingly bad. I could say a lot more, but I think there are pros and cons to orphanages vs foster care. I was impressed with how the some things were handled during your childhood, well before we had a child welfare system.

    I’m a Wayne Dyer fan too.


  • admin

    Robyn, you wrote: “I was impressed with how some things were handled during your childhood, well before we had a child welfare system.>

    Now you’ve got me curious. What were some of those things?


  • Betty Auchard

    Yes, my Fan Page is Betty Auchard, AUTHOR. I have a personal page, too, but all the book info and my events are posted on my Fan Page. Have a look.


  • Betty Auchard

    Hello bet365, I would like it if you checked out the comments every day. I hope you don’t mind that I edited your submission a little just to make it easier to read. I’m sure you noticed.


  • Robyn Engel

    Hi Betty.

    In answer to your question, I found one incident really impressive. Your mom was phenomenal about addressing the sexual abuse in the Field’s home. The fact that the home was immediately closed – Wow! That’s how to take care of business. Sadly, things don’t happen like that anymore. Child Welfare and/or state Licensing would conduct a painstaking investigation, interview the kids, etc. They would likely conclude that the allegations are “unsubstantiated” (this is the most common finding) and perhaps issue a warning.

    Second, I just finished your book. I’m about to write a review on Amazon. I loved it. I feel honored to have met you and traveled the journey with you through your tales.


    • Betty Auchard

      Hi again, Robyn.
      Regarding my mother who was phenomenal in many ways — I remember with clarity her proactive side as much as her volatile mood swings. Mom handled injustice as though she was Wonder Woman herself. Whenever she was acting out during one of her temper tantrums, naturally, she came off as a neurotic crazy woman…which she probably was at the time of the tantrum.

      She once admitted to me that when she lost her temper, she couldn’t see, hear, or think straight. But back in the summer of 1938, her mind was clear as a bright day when she flew into action. First, she yanked us out of the Ottumwa Chilrens’ Home and got us back into the Home for the Friendless in Cedar Rapids. Then she reported everything to the police with the details about the girls she interviewed that day. The rest is history, though I don’t know if the records would still be available. There’s an interesing little side story that we deleted from that chapter in the book. It’s about an article about the closing of that place in the paper…which paper…I don’t know. I’ll tell that unpublished story in another blog real soon.

      By the way, your name is so familiar. Have we met?

  • Robyn Engel

    Hi Betty,

    It’s interesting getting more details from you. Thanks. It’s really unique that your mom was so proactive in that situation. Thank goodness.

    Yes, we met at Autumn in the Redwoods. You signed your book for me. You may’ve repressed the whole retreat experience, given how campfire storytelling unfolded. I understand.


  • Betty Auchard

    Robyn, are you talking about the retreat at the Budhist center, Pema Osel Ling? Why am I drawing a blank? Are you on Facebook? I need to see your photo and then I’ll remember who you are.