Dr. Noah H. Kersey Ph.D.
Over the years, a large volume of
literature has been devoted to the structure of the family in
America. Prior to the sexual revolution of the late 1960's the
traditional family unit was a mother, a father, and children.
However, as the divorce rate has climbed to over fifty-percent, so
has the structure of the family evolved into a myriad of
combinations of single parent families and blended families. Things
are not quite so simple as in the days of "Father Knows Best" and
"Leave it to Beaver".
There is a growing body of work describing the psychological and
sociological adjustments of the adoptive family, the adoptee, and to
a lesser extent, the birth parents who relinquished their child for
adoption either by choice or by unavoidable circumstances.
Interestingly, there has been very little attention paid to orphans
who were never adopted.
In the film, "The Cider House Rules", the lead character Homer was
adopted several times only to be returned because he was either too
"quiet" for one couple or abused by another.
Therefore, Homer grew up in the orphanage never again to be adopted.
Instead, he was trained by the physician who operated the 'home" to
be an 'unofficial doctor' who either provided abortions or helped
babies into the world to be adopted.
At one point in the film Homer was trying to provide comfort to
another orphan named Curly. It seemed Curly could not understand why
prospective adoptive parents who came to ‘look at' the children in
the orphanage never chose him.
Homer explained to Curly that he was "much too special to be adopted
by just anyone". Only a very special family could have Curly. It was
never made apparent if Curly ever believed Homer's attempt to
ameliorate the little boy's pain.
What happens to orphans who are not chosen for adoption? Where do
they go? What do they do?
Back in the late 1960's a considerable number of orphans, upon
reaching their late teens, were asked to drop out of school and join
the military. It was easier to supervise smaller kids than it was
older kids with raging hormones.
Some orphans did drop out of school and worked full-time jobs. Most
were drafted and sent off to Vietnam.
Maybe an unknown number of orphans were able to struggle long enough
to finish high school. Possibly, there were a smaller group who
applied to colleges. Perhaps an infinitesimal number even graduated
from college and went on to successful jobs or careers.
The difficulty is the dearth of documentation in regards to how many
kids left orphanages without being adopted and were able to lead a
productive life. Did they manage to finish their formal education?
Did they develop an entrepreneurial acumen to become successful
business people? Were they prosperous at love, marriage and
So very little is known about these individuals and even less is
understood about what life was like for them that they might as well
be from another universe.
Would most people who had parents, either by birth or adoption,
understand these individuals?
When asked, most cannot imagine life without a family. They have
never thought about how it would feel to be alone on Thanksgiving or
Christmas, or worse, to be alone on their birthday.
There needs to be more anecdotal research on young men and women who
leave orphanages without benefit of a family or a parent to guide
them on their pathway to adulthood. Did any succeed, or did most
fail? Did they perpetuate the circle of life and create kids only to
abandon them to grow up in orphanages themselves?
Maybe they continued in their quest for ‘belonging' by working their
way through college and possibly graduate school. It is possible
that some of them could have waited for the right marriage partner
to come along and found fulfillment in being a life-long loving
spouse as well as a devoted mother or father determined to be all
they could imagine, or what God wanted them to be.
It could be enlightening to many to know what it would be like to be
a citizen of another universe.
Dr. Kersey has been providing mental
health services since 1977 and provides services for individuals,
couples, families as well as groups. He has a special interest in
areas of co-dependent relationships, adoption issues, marital
therapy, as well as stress of life issues. Dr. Kersey is a licensed
psychologist and has been practicing in Indiana since 1987. You may
contact him at his website: