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By Trace Hentz (author of One Small Sacrifice)
I know it’s a sign when a couple of my friends mention “Orphan Asylums” to me in a single day. How children were called “inmates.”
I have no recollection of my time as an inmate in a Minnesota orphanage – this happened after I was born in St. Paul, MN and was shifted from The Catholic Infant Home (where unwed mothers wait out their pregnancy) to the St. Joseph’s Home for Children (Orphanage) then to a Catholic foster care (a house on Harrison St.) in Superior, Wisconsin. Apparently Catholic Charities moved infants/children across state lines without any scrutiny or trouble at all. And all the paperwork they created on me was sealed. (I phoned back when I was 21 and they refused my request for my file.) And I have two Catholic baptismal certificates – one with my mother Helen Thrall and a later one with the adopters Everett and Edith DeMeyer who are listed on my birth certificate as my biological parents. (Best to hide proof and evidence of a stranger adoption brokered by Catholic Charities.)
The Catholic Church (and others) created a charity and an industry with maternity homes, orphanages, churches, hospitals, big brick buildings to house priests, nuns and medical staff, all to handle the baby inmates that became their big business. Pretty clever those pontiffs denounce birth control of any kind so a steady stream of illegitimate children can be sold through their channels. And they are a non-profit so they get to keep their income. And devoted parishioners keep pumping them donations to this day.
Here is the photo of the orphanage where I was:
This is Catholic Charities current description:
When land was bought for the Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home in 1885, the intersection of 46th Street and Chicago Avenue was a half-day’s ride from the city. The green countryside that stretched south to Minnehaha Creek promised a pastoral experience for children. Both the Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home and St. Joseph’s Home for Children in St. Paul were founded to address a critical need of the late 19th century: children left parentless by epidemics and other hardships of pioneer life. The nuns who staffed the homes offered motherly care to hundreds of children well into the 20th century. The 1960s saw two important shifts. First, society turned to favor foster placement over orphanage care. The Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home and St. Joseph’s Home for Children were consolidated on the Boys’ Home property under St. Joe’s name. Today, St. Joe’s continues to serve the community as a part of Catholic Charities. Several programs for children, including an emergency shelter, health clinic and mental health services, operate at St. Joe’s. SOURCE (I want to note there are Orphan Cemeteries, too.) (How clever of them to leave out the adoptions they did. Really!)
(My thanks to my Librarian friend Karen Vigneault-MLIS for sending me sources on these asylums. Karen is a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California.)
For any one looking to find an ancestor at an asylum, some have individual websites with census that has names and dates and even parents names on many of these young inmates.
A few friends have told me what their adoptive parents paid for them. I don’t know what I cost mine.
And I thought about the many Catholic-run Boarding Schools for American Indian children who were also made inmates, imprisoned to be assimilated and educated, all to KILL THE INDIAN.
My mother Helen had to pay to stay at the Catholic Maternity Home in Minnesota – can you believe it? She made arrangements to pay THEM?
Wasn’t giving them me enough payment?
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