When I think of mothers on my family tree, Lura Smith tops the list of those I look forward to meeting in the afterlife. She is the adopted mother of my Grannie, Louise Eleanor Long. Grannie adored Lura.
In May 1920, a baby girl was born in Columbus, Ohio to an unwed mother. The mother died of preeclampsia. This baby girl would become my grandmother.
Upon her mother’s death, Baby Anderson became a ward of the State of Ohio Welfare Department. She had a caseworker, Ethel Huffman Ackerman, who wanted to place Baby Anderson in the home of Harry Long. The caseworker was a friend and classmate (at Ohio State) of Harry’s sister Elizabeth Long.
As Elizabeth retells the story, Ethel received Baby Anderson’s birth mother’s history and felt that Harry and Lura were just the parents for this new baby. Louise was at the state receiving home and Ethel had not yet met the baby.
According to Elizabeth, Ethel didn’t think anyone would want the baby after seeing the sickly child for the first time. The baby had been through a rough delivery and absorbed some of the fluids from her mother’s kidney failure. The baby’s face was broken out and her whole body was very thin. She looked as if she had hemorrhoids. (Elizabeth remembers the baby girl had no buttocks and wondering if she would ever learn to sit!)
Ethel told Harry that he was under no obligation to take the baby. She also apologized for not having warned them of her condition. It is said that Harry responded,
if there ever was a baby that needed a home, I believe this one does.
Lura agreed with her husband. The couple took Louise and nursed her to good health. The State of Ohio probably provided health services for a year until the adoption was complete.
Although the words were said by Harry, the nurturing mother Lura is a saint in my book. She could have refused to take the baby based on looks alone. Lura and Harry didn’t. They gave that baby a chance at life. That sickly baby lived to 92 years old, had three children, thirteen grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and multiple great-great grandchildren!
On this Mother’s Day, I praise Lura Maud Smith. Without her decision to adopt such a sickly child, I might never have come to be.