Think Chicago Is Cold This Week?

Seventy years ago these might have been my sisters, brother and homeless Mother

By Jeffrey Koopersmith – Editor Emeritus

WASHINGTON DC, 30 JANUARY 2019: During nearly every moment I walk the streets of New York, my home town, I think about the chance that this woman could have been my mother – named Lucille – in this oft-shown photo, taken in Chicago in 1948, and that the little boy and girls are my four young siblings.

You see, I was born into poverty, in Chicago, in 1948, a tough time for most urban poor.

Today I am seventy years old and my heart races again thinking about another family like this standing in polar weather in Chicago looking for someplace to sleep. I cannot get to Chicago today because the trains to the Windy City are not running – the rails are frozen. I would surely have gone otherwise to look for children who might also be out sitting on a stoop begging for loose change or a dollar bill.

Ananda Dillon writes, ” Two of the children, RaeAnn and Milton, were sold to farmers John and Ruth Zoeteman for $2. The Zoetemans changed their names to Beverly and Kenneth and took them back to their farm. On the farm, the two children were reportedly regularly chained up in the barn. They were bought for the purpose of working on the farm and were forced to slave away for long hours. Milton even recalls his new “father” calling him a slave.”

Ananda is telling a true story. I know because I searched for this woman myself, but found that is was Little Bedford she was carrying at that time, not little Jeffrey. Read Ananda’s story here

At weeks old, I was fortunate, and my adopted parents Sylvia and Teddy Koopersmith of New York adopted me from whoever my mother was and I had a wonderful life for several years which turned tragic later when my father was killed in a terrible car crash on Christmas Day and my mother, also in the car, was hospitalized for years. – They returning home from their best friends’ Yuletide party. I was, unbeknownst to me, already heading for boarding school thousands of miles away from home. I just wasn’t aware I would have to leave my home and everything in it so quickly.

My mother, after years of hospitalization, to cure her terrible wounds and make her some new hips. came to California – but as a changed person – almost a stranger. I had been placed in a boarding school in Los Angeles two years before, close to my grandparents and one of my aunts. After that, I never had a place I could call home until I married. Today as the “Adam” of my family I have a wonderful son and two grandsons here in Washington, not on the streets in Chicago.

Because I was adopted, luckily by good and successful parents, I did not suffer the terrible horror of many of the Chalifoux children pictured above. Yet the curse of many adopted children strangely found me later just after my loving nanny woke me in New yor to tell me my parents were “in a terrible car crash”, Victoria whispered to me. We cried together.

I bring this up today because of the terrible weather impacting more than 100 million people in the midwestern United States this week with temperatures as low at Minus 50-70 degrees!

You, see that’s why I would be out there – like almost anyone might be – making sure all children, with or without good parents, were safe and warm at home. I am no hero, but something always drives me to watch out for kids, dogs, or any animal, left or lost.

There is, however, another important reason to bring this to your attention.

Today there are governments making the age an in-utero baby a puzzle because under rare circumstances a baby found dead or maimed some way. In fact here in the nation’s capital region, the state of Virginia is considering making abortion legal for babies who are up to 40 months and that is birthing age, if circumstances call for it. This is a very long running period and most unusual in American states permitting abortion, however, more than one state has already passed several abortion extensions or what anti-abortion activists call “murder sentences” to babies already mature and ready for life.

I support a woman’s and a man’s right to decide they cannot properly take of a child and discuss ending the pregnancy and the potential life it might bring. Yet, even though I and the Chalifoux babies made it and lived, I also know that many unwanted babies that stay at home with unloving parents, or are adopted by some other family unsuited for parenting, as many are – regardless of adoption agency vetting – can suffer horribly.

I could never allow my wife or any women to abort their child. To do so would be the height of hypocrisy for me. Abortion too is high on the do not mess with list of things people can engage in today.

I am caught in the middle – I can’t agree to deny parents who don’t want a child the legal right to end a pregnancy – but I also cannot claim nor abide by claims from adoption agencies and churches that they can guarantee good homes for unwanted children. There are far too many horror stories about normally born and raised children, let alone the real tragedies suffered by so many adopted children – innocent – yet still serving a life sentence of misery in some ways or many.

I have experience.

While I was treated well in a “good hotel” sense, I also suffered having little time with my adoptive parents and lost them soon thereafter. In fact, I was an orphan twice. Yet it wasn’t just they who succumbed for me – it was my friends, my community, my schools, my history and my hunger for a great education. I had a good education certainly, but I had no parents to share it with or guide me along the way. My mother had been a “beater” and my all-boys prep school was not a great answer for leaving that far behind.

I came from a quite a large family on both sides.

Though my uncles and my cousins never telephoned or bothered about me in boarding school at a young age, with no place to go on weekends. I took jobs during after prep school – my tution paid for by insurances I suppose. I had one cousin, Arnold and his wife Bev who seemed happy to see me when I visited them – but they had their own two children to take care of, and I guess my uncles and much-older cousins couldn’t focus on me.

It was no picnic, but at the time I simply worked my way through college, law school and, graduate school. Later in life, I had to deal with the traumas experienced from losing my parents the second time and being exported a few thousand miles away to a school for boys which today is not boarding at all and teaches both boys and girls as well. My cousin Al was another person who watched over me, but as an adult. I love him for that, but he too drifted away and now most of the peerage in my family is gone.

I have a joyful and wonderful life alongside the tough memories and the cutting sense of not belonging. I made my era mostly by myself but with the aid of great friends and colleagues. This is very possible and done every day by privileged but uncared-for children in boarding schools all over the world and of course in homes of adoptive or true parents who either wanted them or didn’t. Having cruel but genetically connected parents can be as bad as being an orphan – or worse, I suppose.

For this reason, I am gratified to continue to bless women to become pregnant without husbands or no coexisting ability to raise and educate a child in our highly complex and competitive world. Yet I fear for that child.

I propose one addition to regulations surrounding the troubling debate – yes or no abortions. But there must also be one added requirement to guard these unborn children against what can happen to children with no genetic ties to parental figures – babies who are dropped off at orphanages or worse without preparation.

Such a rule would require state and federal government to support the children who would have been aborted early on throughout life until the age of 28 if in professional schools, or 21 if choosing to be a non-academic, but alone-in-the=world.

If the government is going to force women to have their babies, which is the demanded trend today, it should also have the responsibility to feed and dress them and keep them from harm, and also to contribute, as they can, to that child’s life and education at least until each is qualified to go out and create their own steady livelihoods and families.

As yet I have not seen a single “pro-life” do-gooder agree to help fund the best health care, feeding, education, and school life possible -at least in part.

I do know of some wealthy donors who support specific charities which attempt to do this – but to do it right for millions of unborn children in advance is truly a complex and answerable to society job that corporations are not prepared to accomplish. Only governments and highly trained and morally gifted people can do what is needed – especially for the poorest children who are, of course, the best examples of possible terror in today’s societies- no matter where.

Are we are brothers and sisters keepers? You bet we are.

– xx –

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