stories from the book
by James V. Browning
After 30 Years, I Understand
Thirty years. It’s hard to believe that it has been 30 years since we were to make the most important journey in our young lives.
I’m the oldest of eight children, and the only girl. This is my perspective of my experiences growing up in the Baptist Children’s Home.
It was Spring 1967. I was 12, the oldest. David was 4—he was the youngest. There were six other boys in between.
Two years earlier my mother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was given one year to live. We had been raised in a Christian home. My mother was a very faithful woman. She tried to raise us the same way. We attended church on a regular basis. So it was no surprise that she went to our pastor for help. What do you do with eight children when you think you have less than one year to live?
She wanted us to be kept together. My father worked hard, but he just couldn’t take care of all of us. She didn’t want family to take us because no one could take all eight of us. We had always been a very close family. I know the decision Mom made was the hardest thing she ever had to do. How do you give your children away?
I’ve thought back on those days that followed many times. I really believe the Lord told my mother she was leaving this earth and He gave her the answer. Mom had called Mr. Browning and arranged for all of us to visit the Home. After seeing the Home and each cottage where each one of us would live, we returned to Lawton. Mom contacted our church and then arranged and planned her own funeral. In two months, my mother was dead.
That day in early Spring, we came to tour the Baptist Home. We were so excited. It was so beautiful, so big, and so many kids just like us. We had never seen anything like this. The advantages we received there we could never have gotten otherwise.
My mother prayed about this decision many nights—I would hear her. I don’t think Mom struggled over her decision. I think she just prayed we would understand why she did this.
We arrived at the Baptist Home in June of 1967. My cottage was Kerr, Mrs. Underwood was my housemother. I was so scared, but everyone there was so eager to put me at ease, that soon I was feeling better.
That’s one thing they do well, they make you feel special.
Mrs. Branson was also one of my housemothers. Her husband had died in the pastorate and she came to work at the Children’s Home. I think I learned the most from her. She taught me to forgive. You see, I don’t think I really believed Mom would really leave us. It’s hard to believe something like that. So when my Mom did die in July of 1969, I was bitter, very rebellious, very confused. I could not understand why the Lord would take someone like my Mom, a loving mother, a loyal Christian, my whole world, why would He do this? I didn’t understand.
It has been 30 years now, and I understand.
I would not take anything for my years at the Baptist Home. I’m grown, a mother myself, and I understand just how hard it must have been to make the decision to put us in the Baptist Home.
Mom, you made the right decision, and I love you very much for it.
And to everyone in Baptist Child Care, I need to say, “Thank you for all your love when I needed it most. I will always love you for your compassion. Thank you for accepting and loving me and my seven younger brothers in a time of great need.”