Internship Reflection Essay And The Orphan Trains: A Complex Legacy
Book, Robert T., Jr.
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For my Senior Individualized Project or SIP, I interned at the Kalamazoo County courthouse in the probate division, then researched and wrote about a topic that came out of this experience. Therefore, this paper will have two sections. First, I will discuss what I did at my internship, why I decided to choose the internship I did and how it will impact my future. I interned for an intake specialist named Pat Neal, and his job included work with adoptions, name changes, emancipations and guardianships, essentially legal concerns that did not require a lawyer, but legal guidance was still necessary. While working with Pat, I was able to witness many aspects of law ranging from adoption cases to murder trials. Since my experiences at the courthouse where so diverse, I was able to learn more about the law than I ever thought possible, and the internship gave me insight into whether or not a future career in law is right for me. The second part of my SIP will be a research paper about the Placing Out program, better known as orphan trains, which were implemented in the United States in 1854 by Charles Loring Brace of the New York Children's Aid Society and ran until roughly 1929. The reason that I became interested in this subject was that at my internship I had the opportunity to scour through every single adoption file in Kalamazoo County from the time of the Civil War until the end of the First World War. So, I simply applied my interest in adoption law onto the orphan train program by reading a large number of stories from the orphan train riders themselves. This section of the paper will first discuss how and why the orphan train program came into effect, proving that Brace did indeed have honorable intentions. At the same time, the paper will also examine how Brace's Placing Out program did not always work as well as he envisioned. The paper will then show how some children who rode the trains were impacted positively, while others were harmed by the experience, with all factors combining to give the orphan train a complex legacy.