Other Orphan Train Stories

Discuss the July 2016 Book of the Month, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

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KAV
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Other Orphan Train Stories

Post by KAV » 06 Jul 2016, 18:20

Bookowlie brought up a good point in the overall forum...
bookowlie wrote:Niamh/Dorothy/Vivian's life living with the different families was vivid and heartbreaking. The first family not allowing her to eat the food from the refrigerator and making her use the outhouse - I felt like crying. Of course, Mr. Grote's (the second foster family) attempted rape was horrifying to read. I was so overwhelmed by the descriptions of the orphan kids being made to work like slaves. The boys had it worse than the girls,with harder physical labor. I imagine the true stories from those days are even worse than what was written in this book.
In my opinion I hope you are wrong about the actual stories being worse. I'm not sure what could have been worse than being starved, forbidden to go to school, forced to work without pay, being violated and living in those conditions (lice, no heat). I would like to think that there are good people in the world who took those children in to be loved. I would say at least the babies would have been taken care of. No one is going to volunteer to take a baby that they don't want to make part of their family. Babies are a lot of work. Maybe some people took on extra children for ulterior motivates initially but then grew to love them the way the Nielsens adopted Vivian. What do other people think?
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Post by bookowlie » 06 Jul 2016, 22:00

I also hope I am wrong. I think it's likely that the real stories went across the spectrum - some worse, some better, and some neutral.
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Post by e-tasana-williams » 06 Jul 2016, 22:20

bookowlie wrote:I also hope I am wrong. I think it's likely that the real stories went across the spectrum - some worse, some better, and some neutral.
I agree with bookowlie here. Just like children in foster care today, some are well cared for and eventually loved and adopted, while others are treated indifferently, or abused or neglected. But based on the lack of child labor laws at the time, and the general view of children in society, I tend to think there would have been more stories in the "worse" and "neutral" categories than in the "better" category.
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Post by Gravy » 06 Jul 2016, 22:32

I also believe that Vivian's story was relatively tame to what probably took place.
Just seeing what happens today, with laws in place to protect foster children, it's all too easy to imagine the worst.
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Post by gali » 07 Jul 2016, 09:35

bookowlie wrote:I also hope I am wrong. I think it's likely that the real stories went across the spectrum - some worse, some better, and some neutral.
I agree with you. Those stories were shocking to read about.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by klbradley » 14 Jul 2016, 07:37

Although these stories were so hard to hear, we can find some peace in knowing that there are some families out there who take in foster children to actually treat them as family and love them. My brother-in-law has some family that has several foster children, and they really have just adapted to become a part of the family as a whole.
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Post by braver » 14 Jul 2016, 21:56

Here's a link to some other Orphan Train stories: http://orphantraindepot.org/orphan-train-rider-stories/
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Post by klbradley » 15 Jul 2016, 07:09

braver wrote:Here's a link to some other Orphan Train stories: http://orphantraindepot.org/orphan-train-rider-stories/
Wow! I checked that page out, and it's very interesting! Anyone who would like to see real life stories about some of the Orphan Trains should check that out. Thank you for posting!
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Post by L_Therese » 15 Jul 2016, 21:23

There's little that is more heart-breaking for me than the abuse or neglect of a child. I'm glad we have laws in place now to protect children, but the problem still persists. I think it is important for books like this to remind people about how precious and vulnerable children are. We need to remember where society has been in its treatment of children so we can frame a conversation on where society is now. The only way to find solutions for the future is by seeing the problems that exist as children fall through holes in our safety net.

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Post by katiesquilts » 18 Jul 2016, 05:20

KAV wrote:I would say at least the babies would have been taken care of. No one is going to volunteer to take a baby that they don't want to make part of their family. Babies are a lot of work.
This is something that I thought throughout the entire book! In today's foster system at least, babies are the first to find new homes because they're physically tiring, but they don't have the emotional baggage that older children come with. It almost gets to the point where you can say babies are taken in to be loved, and older children are taken in to be used for physical labor or as a means to receive government money (which is supposed to go to the child, but some a**holes keep it for themselves).

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Post by CatInTheHat » 18 Jul 2016, 16:28

L_Therese wrote:There's little that is more heart-breaking for me than the abuse or neglect of a child. I'm glad we have laws in place now to protect children, but the problem still persists. I think it is important for books like this to remind people about how precious and vulnerable children are. We need to remember where society has been in its treatment of children so we can frame a conversation on where society is now. The only way to find solutions for the future is by seeing the problems that exist as children fall through holes in our safety net.
Such an important point to make. Bad things do still happen, and we need to be aware of what we can do to improve the safety net.
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Post by Insomniac07 » 20 Jul 2016, 08:41

braver wrote:Here's a link to some other Orphan Train stories: http://orphantraindepot.org/orphan-train-rider-stories/
Thanks for the link. Those are some really interesting stories.
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Post by Taylor Razzani » 20 Jul 2016, 22:42

I would hope it wouldn't be the case, but the way they looked at and treated the orphans like they were property would make me believe that not all might have been generous and caring. And like everyone has said, in foster systems today you hear about some pretty messed up things, I'm sure it was the same back then. But hopefully there were plenty more success stories than the book touched upon.
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Post by TangledinText » 21 Jul 2016, 08:03

There was someone in my old neighborhood who adopted older boys for the tax deductions and government benefits and would keep a lock on the fridge and make them work and give them the money from their jobs. It was disgusting to know we lived next to that. One of the boys was my age growing up and I finally figured out the situation when he was 18 because he started dating my friend and he was so beaten down emotionally it was sad, but we gave him a plan. He was old enough to leave and once he had a solid job for long enough he could go back and petition to adopt all his foster brothers in the home. Now five years later he's finally brought light to the situation and has all his brothers under his wing now and his foster parents are in jail.
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Post by CatInTheHat » 21 Jul 2016, 11:39

bookfix_blog wrote:There was someone in my old neighborhood who adopted older boys for the tax deductions and government benefits and would keep a lock on the fridge and make them work and give them the money from their jobs. It was disgusting to know we lived next to that. One of the boys was my age growing up and I finally figured out the situation when he was 18 because he started dating my friend and he was so beaten down emotionally it was sad, but we gave him a plan. He was old enough to leave and once he had a solid job for long enough he could go back and petition to adopt all his foster brothers in the home. Now five years later he's finally brought light to the situation and has all his brothers under his wing now and his foster parents are in jail.

That is so incredibly sad. I have several friends who have fostered and adopted, all for the reason of helping children. People like you mention make it harder for people with good hearts.
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