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01 May 2016 @ 12:47 am
Just the saddest thing  
On my fiftieth birthday my stepmum presented me with a folder containing my family history, as far back as she could trace it. I was surprised to learn I had an aunt that I'd never heard of - Betty Jean, born in 1930 with cerebral palsy and placed into a childrens' home, where she died around 1947, according to one of my surviving aunts. My stepmum had her birth certificate, but couldn't find her death certificate anywhere, so she left the actual date of death blank.

Now I know why. One of my cousins called me tonight - he'd had a call from the Public Trustee's office who were trying to trace Betty Jean's relatives, as she had died in November last year.

All that time. Imagine that - 85 years spent in institutions, never knowing you had a family out there in the real world, never having that connection with people that loved and accepted her. I'm going to see what I can find out about her, although I don't hold out much hope. And it's too much to hope that her life was a good one.
Current Mood: sadsad
nerthusnerthus on April 30th, 2016 09:09 pm (UTC)
That's sad; hopefully she lived in a good place and wasn't mistreated or moved around a lot from institution to institution. People tell me sometimes that I might end up needing to put my daughter in some sort of institution or group home, and it might come to that someday; but I will keep her home with me as long as I can.
miwahni: Random Rainbow Earthmiwahni on May 1st, 2016 10:16 am (UTC)
I'm hoping she had a stable environment, hoping to find out when I ring the home to see if anyone will talk to me.
I can understand the need to put a child into care, when parents can't cope - but my grandmother went on to have another two children after Betty Jean so obviously she was able to manage kids. Still societal pressure in 1930 would have been brought to bear on her. I'm very glad we live in a different world these days.
Fiorenza_afiorenza_a on May 1st, 2016 12:19 pm (UTC)

I can't speak for anywhere else, but certainly in the UK people were told to 'forget' about such children.

The dutiful thing to do was to put them in a home and move on, anything else was aberrant parenting.

I'm not sure if eugenics had anything to do with it, but people were obsessed with 'improving' the human race. So presumably the medical profession was at the forefront of this type of thinking and advised accordingly. Go away and have 'healthy' children, we'll take care of the rest.

Which is not to say that anyone condoned mistreating disabled kiddies.

Fortunately, things have changed considerably. I had a colleague whose daughter is cared for in a 'home', but no one thinks her family should forget her. Her disabilities are very severe, but she visits her family often and they visit her. She lives as independently as is possible for a young woman with her disabilities, in a small unit, and last I heard, was very happy there.
miwahni: Random Rainbow Earthmiwahni on May 3rd, 2016 11:20 am (UTC)
It always seemed a bit shameful, when I was growing up, to have a family member in a home. Like the old mad aunt locked in an attic in Victorian novels. People just didn't talk about it.