The Souvenir of Western Women/The Baby Home
The Baby Home
By MRS. CHARLES E. SITTON
President of the Board of Directors
THE BABY HOME is the outgrowth of a work begun many years ago by a few earnest women on the East Side. It was incorporated in March, 1899, and the change in management that year was followed by the erection of a building on a sightly block of ground, donated for that purpose, by Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Kern as a loving memorial to their infant daughter, whose death occurred the previous year. Mrs. Kern was president of the Home for some years, but owing to other demands upon her time and strength, she felt obliged to give this responsibility to others. She, however, was an honorary member of the board until her death a year ago.
Nearly five hundred different babies have been cared for under the hospitable roof of what we now call the old building—these from many and varied conditions of life. The majority have been of respectable but poor parentage; children of widowed and forsaken mothers, dependent upon themselves for support, or of fathers, desolate and helpless when left with motherless babies; others wholly orphans and often friendless. There have been some, too, of illegitimate birth; but where is there more need of sympathy and kindness than toward those babies born with a stigma that makes an additional burden in after life? Even though the number were much greater, if such can be helped to homes where they are welcomed and reared to lives of usefulness and self-reliance, can any one question the good results?
Not all illegitimate children are from degraded parents. There are many heart-broken mothers whose one bitter experience has brought almost unbearable sorrow, to be borne through a life of regret and remorse. Great is the pity that the one who shared the sin, and oft times the chief in error, escapes the responsibility and extreme suffering consequent to the wrongdoing.
Under the present administration nearly eighty children have been placed in homes for adoption, thereby bringing the childless home and the homeless child together and making both happier and better. This part of the work is certainly commendable and worthy of assistance and encouragement.
In the management of the Home two principles are paramount—that no worthy parent be refused assistance; neither shall he or she be permitted to lose the feeling of natural responsibility and self-respect by being relieved of all parental obligation. Unless circumstances make it absolutely impossible, some remuneration, even though it be not more than one dollar per month, is exacted; and, as it occasionally happens, when both parents are living and are able-bodied, full price for board is required. It should be stated, however, that these cases are rare, and would never be admitted to the exclusion of the more needy. At this writing (April, 1905), having outgrown the building that sixteen years ago seemed ample and built before the requirements were fully understood by the management, the Baby Home, with its increased family and its constantly growing need, is about to cross the threshold of a much larger
building erected upon up-to-date plans and equipped with modern conveniences and sanitary appliances. This Home, unique in its mission and second to none for the purposes it serves, is the result of years of struggle, much careful deliberation and good management of the funds intrusted to its directors. It is an object long hoped for, and its attainment may fitly be a source of pride.
The Northern Indians used to bring their t'irls as soon as they arrived at the age of 15 to the Puget Sound towns for barter. As many as a dozen were sometimes seen in one canoe, with an old Indian and a squaw as guardians. They distributed them among the logging camps and ranches. The missionaries put a stop to this practice.