Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 19, 1951

The Care Of Children

Loyd L. Smith, Lawton, Oklahoma

Much is being written these days about "institutionalism," with much emphasis being placed upon the care of children. While I have not read all that has been written, yet I have not seen an article that discussed the question of the "best way to care for them." It seems to be assumed that we must have an "orphan's home' if we are going to care for homeless children. However, that does not follow at all. There are thousands of couples in the land that are not able to bear children, but are able to give them the right kind of a home, and would like to have them. And if we preachers would urge people to take homeless children, many many more could be found. Yet we usually forget that way of taking care of them, and only urge the maintenance of an institution—consequently, we maintain the institution, the couple is denied the joys and benefits of parenthood, and thousands of children are eternally sinned against. But you suggest that these couples should adopt children. If you haven't tried that you really don't know what you are talking about, for that is not easy to do.

I think we are all agreed that we should care for homeless children to the extent of our ability. I am sure we are all agreed that it is desirable to have some place, or places, to care for them until suitable homes can be found, and to provide a permanent home for those children who cannot be placed in a private home. But to condemn a child who could have a home, to a childhood in an institution, is to commit a sin for which someone will have to pay.

When the children from "the home' come into our community to sing, we see that they are well behaved, have been taught to sing, and that they are getting some Bible teaching, so we immediately conclude that that is the very best that can be done. However, this does not give you the whole picture. You need to visit the home, see the children there who are starving for affection and a normal home life. Have them climb all over you—and have everyone of them want to go home with you. You have to see the loneliness and heartache of the child who has been deprived of it in order to get the true picture. A child needs parent, for God fixed it that way. A child needs the personal attention in a thousand ways that only parents can give it. He needs to be loved—and he needs to be needed, two things that a child cannot have in an institution. Children that are shifted around from place to place, and who have no real parents, suffer more than any of us know. A home of his own, a feeling of security, a feeling that he belongs, that he is loved and needed are even more important for the proper development of a child than they are for the happiness and well-being of an adult. Yet the very nature of an institution is such that the child cannot have that relationship to it. God made the ideal place for children when He made the home with a father and mother. That cannot be improved upon. It is impossible to hire people to do what fathers and mothers do. This is not intended as a reflection upon the intentions or efforts of anyone, but simply to point out that God's way is best. One woman serving as a "matron' in a section of an institution simply cannot be a mother to all the children under her care. And a man serving as "superintendent' of the institution cannot be a father to them.

There are many children, who for one reason or another, cannot be adopted into private homes. In such cases we should do all we can for them in "our homes," but every child that can have a private home should have it. Yet such homes as Tipton and Boles will not consider it at all, and brother Oler once wrote a rather peevish article because it was being pushed upon him, and he ended his "reasons' for not adopting them out with the hope that he would not be bothered with it again. If brethren would quit thinking in terms of building a home for a thousand children, and think of just one of those little fellows, and what is best for him, we would soon be on the right track in such matters. And while we are on that "big home" idea, I would like to ask you parents of 'teen age children if you would think it good for your child to travel all over the country on a singing expedition with a lot of other children?

Certainly there are many problems involved in placing children. Many people want them who should not have them, and some children are not "adoptable." But that does not alter the fact that a child is better off in a home of his own than in an institution, and should be so placed if it is possible to do so. But to dodge the issue because there are some difficulties, (if that is the reason) is to fail our duty to the children entrusted to us. There is no way to deal with such matters without assuming some responsibilities, and making some mistakes.

The issue is not whether we shall take care of them, but what is the best way to take care of them. We certainly need to take a stern look at this "no adoption' policy. To build a home for a thousand of them is just making a situation where that many more children will be denied a home. I know several (and I haven't looked for them, they have come to me) faithful couples RIGHT NOW who want children and are able to give them a Christian home. There are many children RIGHT NOW in institutions we are supporting, who could have a home, if we would let them. We are keeping these children from having what every child is entitled to, and we are helping prevent these childless couples from having children to love and rear. Surely this is not right. Let us maintain the homes we have, use them as "clearing houses' for the children who can be adopted. Then for those who cannot be let us do all we can to make up the great loss they have suffered.

It is easy to settle this question. What would be best for your own child? Is it best for him to grow up without parents, or with them? That is also best for the other man's child. If the institution can do better with the children, then lets put all our children in them, for the welfare of the child should be the paramount thing.

Oh yes, now if you are ready ask, "how many children have you adopted?' The answer is that we have been able to get two—but have tried to get others.


GOSPEL MEETING You are cordially invited to attend a Gospel Meeting at the Church of Christ in Liberty Hill, Texas, July 6 through 15. Services. During Week — 10.30 a.m., 8.15 p.m.; Lord's Days — 11 a.m., 2.30 p.m., 8.15 p.m. A. C. Knight, Evangelist; L. G. Glover, Song Director. Bible classes each Lord's day at 10.00 a.m. Dinner on the ground each Lord's day.