Why did the orphanage lie about Beth’s age?

Beth was a young girl who grew up in St. Mary’s Orphanage in a small town. She had been there since she was a baby, never knowing her real parents. The caretakers were the only family Beth had ever known. However, on her 12th birthday, Beth made a shocking discovery – the orphanage had been lying about her age all these years. She was not 12, but 15 years old. This raised a troubling question – why would the orphanage lie about Beth’s age?

Possible Motives for the Lie

There are several potential reasons why the orphanage may have lied about Beth’s true age:

To make her more adoptable

One possibility is that the orphanage lowered Beth’s age in order to make her seem more adoptable to potential parents. Babies and young children are generally more likely to get adopted than older children. By shaving a few years off Beth’s age, the orphanage may have hoped to increase her chances of finding a permanent home.

To hide something about her origins

Another potential motive could be to cover up something about Beth’s origins. If she was older than they claimed, that would indicate she was likely dropped off at the orphanage at an older age rather than as an infant. This could raise questions about where she came from and who her birth parents were. The orphanage may have changed her age to conceal something about her background.

To qualify her for certain programs

Additionally, lying about Beth’s age could have helped qualify her for certain programs or resources aimed at younger children. For instance, some government assistance programs or charity donations only serve children under a certain age. By understating Beth’s age, the orphanage may have opened up additional opportunities for her care and provision.

Context Around Beth’s Background

To better understand the orphanage’s motivations, it helps to look at the context around Beth’s background and arrival to St. Mary’s:

No records of her birth or origins

Interestingly, St. Mary’s had no documentation or records related to Beth’s birth or where she came from. All they seemed to know was that she had been left on their doorstep as a toddler one winter night. Who her parents were and why they abandoned her remained a mystery.

Malnourished and underdeveloped when she arrived

Those who were at the orphanage at the time Beth arrived recalled that she was malnourished and undersized for her age, wherever that was. She had likely been deprived of proper care and nutrition before being dropped off.

No authorities notified

Additionally, in taking Beth in, the orphanage never notified the police or child welfare authorities. They kept her arrival completely internal and off the books. This was highly irregular, as normally an abandoned child would have been processed through official channels.

Life at the Orphanage

To provide further context, here are some details about Beth’s life and upbringing within the walls of St. Mary’s:

Kept separate from older kids

The staff and caretakers always kept Beth with the younger children even as she grew up. She was never allowed to interact or socialize with kids her own age. The official reason given was they didn’t want the younger kids exposed to bad influences from the big kids. But in retrospect, this segregation kept Beth from realizing how much older she truly was.

Age Allowed to interact with kids up to age
5 7
8 10
10 12

Celebrated birthdays inconsistent with age

Beth’s birthday was celebrated on March 5th each year. However, based on her true age being 15, that would imply she was born in 2008. But records showed the orphanage celebrating her 5th birthday in 2009, 7th in 2011, and so on. The birthdays lined up with the fictional younger age rather than her real date of birth.

Given age-inappropriate clothing and toys

Additionally, Beth was consistently dressed in clothes, given toys, and treated in a manner more fitting a child of the age the orphanage claimed she was. For example, giving a dollhouse to play with at age 10 rather than something more appropriate for a 13 year old. This further reinforced the charade of the fictional younger age.

Motives Revisited

Looking at these aspects of Beth’s upbringing at St. Mary’s orphanage, the motives for lying about her age become somewhat clearer:

To conceal her origins

The lack of any recorded history or documentation about Beth’s background strongly suggests the orphanage wanted to hide where she came from and who left her there. If authorities investigated, they may have uncovered something scandalous about the circumstances.

To ease adoption placement

Keeping Beth categorized with younger kids and celebrating an incorrectly young birthday clearly aimed to set her up for adoption. Couples are more likely to adopt an 8 year old than an 11 year old, so they artificially kept her progressing through the “ideal” adoptive ages.

To control her development

Isolating Beth from older children and enforcing age inappropriate activities also kept her emotionally and socially stunted for her real age. This may have made her more docile and obedient to the orphanage, less likely to question their authority.

Effects on Beth

While the orphanage’s motivations shed light on the deception, the bigger victim was Beth herself. Discovering this lie had profound effects:

Confusion over her identity

Finding out her entire sense of self and age was false made Beth question her whole identity. Who was she really? The only identity she ever knew was ripped away.

Anger and betrayal

Of course Beth felt betrayed, knowing the people she trusted most had been lying to her throughout her childhood. This revelation damaged her ability to trust.

Immaturity for her age

Having been sheltered and treated like a child left Beth emotionally and socially behind her peers. She struggled to fit in among regular teenagers outside the orphanage.

Fear over her origins

The lack of clear history about her origins also left Beth afraid of what that might mean. Were her parents criminals? Was she a kidnapped baby? The unknown was ominous.

Lasting Impact

This deception about Beth’s age had effects that lasted long beyond her time at the orphanage:

Difficulty adjusting in new foster home

After the truth came out, Beth was transferred to a new foster home. But struggling with her identity made it hard to adapt to this new unfamiliar environment.

Trouble progressing in school

Her educational progress had been stunted by the restricted curriculum and activities at the orphanage. Beth had to work extra hard to catch up to her appropriate grade level.

Social isolation and anxiety

Having been deprived of normal social interactions with peers her own age left Beth anxious and withdrawn around other teenagers. She struggled to make new friends.

Trust issues

The betrayal left deep trust issues that surfaced in Beth’s future relationships. She often questioned people’s motives, assuming they might be deceiving her too.


In the end, while the orphanage’s motivations to lie about Beth’s age may have seemed sensible from their perspective, the deception ultimately had lasting negative impacts on Beth’s life and development. Their decision to falsify something as fundamental as her age robbed Beth of the chance to understand her true self and origins. The lesson here is that while an orphanage’s role is to care for children, they also owe those children honesty and transparency, even when the truth may be difficult to bear. Only then can vulnerable youths like Beth fully own their identity and build self-confidence anchored in reality rather than fiction.

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