The plan of boarding children in families has been followed as in former years. There have been ninety-eight children at board during the year, most of them in country homes, the exceptions are those given to women to wet nurse, their own children having died. By this method of caring for the children, in addition to the advantage of giving them the natural life in a family, we often secure permanent homes for them. In the past year ten children have been adopted in their boarding places. The places thus obtained are among the very best our children have. In every case the child is kept because it is loved too much to be given up.
One of the Committee writes as follows: "I have just visited the twelve children under my charge. Such happy, well cared for children, in such comfortable homes, it did me good to see. Four of our children in these places have been adopted, and are really as well off as if they had been born in the families, certainly in three of the houses, I should have been glad to stay to dine, it was so clean and pleasant, all in laboring life, but where the pauper is wiped out. I have read fifty letters from persons who have adopted children, and not one without some word of love and satisfaction in having taken the child; it is very difficult to copy them, they are so personal. The motives for adoption, about which one often wonders, are explained, and the love and comfort that comes with the presence of the child is told all out, and does not belong to the public, but is most interesting in itself."
The following are a few extracts from these letters. Often the first letter is like this:
"I want a little girl with blue eyes, healthy and of American parentage if possible, and not over two years old, and one that will have no one to claim her after I get her, as I shall expect to love it as though it was my own child." Again: "The three months have passed away quickly since our dear little girl came to us, we love her so very dearly we think we could not give her up now by any means. I hardly think you would know her, she has grown so fat and pretty, her little cheeks are as red as cherries, and she has lots of hair, curly and golden, in comparison with the little bald head she was three months ago. She has completely won her grandpa’s heart."
Another: "We all, every one of us, love Annie dearly. In fact, I do think that husband and self love her as well as we did our boys when they were babies, and as for the boys, of whom we have three, they almost worship the little thing."
The expenses for clothing are, as usual, limited to the cost of material. All the sewing is done by charitable societies and through the generosity of ladies who give the work to poor women. We have, however, to pay for hand knit socks and we shall be very glad to have any help in knitting; patterns will be gladly supplied by the matron. The children boarding at North Easton, have for some years been clothed by kind friends living in that town, and now the ladies of Winchester and Lexington, have pledged themselves to visit and clothe the little boarders in their neighborhood. Many of the nurses arrive at the Asylum almost destitute, and garments of all kinds are needed to clothe them. Old linen and cotton are always acceptable.
The rooms at 37 Lawrence street, were opened in February, 1880, for the reception of children sent by Directors of Public Institutions, for admission to the Massachusetts Infant Asylum, where they remained until examined by one of our physicians. Satisfactory arrangements have been made to transfer this temporary home to Chardon street, where the same system will, as far as possible, be continued. We have good reason to congratulate ourselves upon this change for economical and other reasons.
The principal Matron, Miss Clapp, and the Assistant Matron, Miss Stockman, have been as efficient and faithful as in former years.
It is with the greatest satisfaction that we present the Report of the Medford Branch. When this house was first established it was looked upon as an experiment, which was watched with the greatest interest by the parent institution. It is an experiment no longer, but a most decided success, the ladies of Medford, aided by Winchester and Lexington, have spared no time or trouble to ensure the good care of the children under their charge.
The Branch House is a model of economy and successful management, and the Directors of the Massachusetts Infant Asylum are glad to have this opportunity to thank the Managers for the successful carrying out of a plan which was first thought of by the projectors of the Asylum so many years ago. The new house into which the Branch moved a year ago has proved more desirable than the former one, being larger, better ventilated, and containing a bright, sunny day nursery. Miss Hoag and her assistant Miss Bede, have shown great interest in their work, and have most efficiently discharged the duties assumed by them. The Main House provides for the rent and running expenses of the Branch, but a considerable sum is annually required for clothing, etc.
The Massachusetts Infant Asylum so seldom of late years has asked for funds that the Directors feel sure that their present appeal will not be unanswered. Many of the original annual subscribers have died, and the expenditure is largely increased with the increased number of children. Surely the usefulness of this good work should be enlarged and not circumscribed for lack of means. The experience of fifteen years has taught a strict economy, and the employment of any income to the best advantage, and the Directors have a confident hope that this latter will be increased by private benevolence to meet the wants of the Asylum.
1. "Directors' Report", Fifteenth Annual Report of the Directors of the Massachusetts Infant Asylum, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, 1882, Pages 9-12.