Hollywood Legend Mary Pickford on Family: ‘No Home Can Be a Completely Happy One Without God’
By Movieguide® Staff
Canadian-born actress Mary Pickford, who was known for becoming “Hollywood’s first million-dollar actress,” emphasized the blessing and joy of motherhood.
In an article published from 1948, Pickford wrote about her journey in adopting children with her husband Buddy Rogers.
“‘Have girl for adoption along lines discussed,’ the telegram read. Perhaps the most thrilling message in my life—it was from a Foundling Home,” she wrote at the time.
“Buddy and I were on a plane the next morning, excited at the thought that our search might be over. But I personally had a feeling of panic too,” she said. “We had been years trying to find a child. Once before we had settled on an adorable two-weeks-old baby girl. All formalities and paper-signing had been completed, and we had even prepared a nursery for the baby in our home.”
“A day or so before the child was due to arrive—she died,” she added. “Since then I had often wondered, although I battled such thoughts, if God really wanted me to have a child. It had seemed like a double deprivation to have to close the door on that empty nursery. And yet why had God given me such an insistent urge for children—and an almost obsessed love for babies? My idea of the perfect home had always been four children—and it still is.”
The MY BEST GIRL star recalled how her husband connected with the children at the Foundling Home.
“I looked around for my husband, but he had stepped out the door to the playground, evidently attracted by the shouts of some boys playing ball. Moving over to the window I too watched the action. One small lad with tousled hair and quick, agile movements interested me at once. He seemed to run the hardest and throw a ball the straightest,” she said. “Although the smallest boy on the field, he by his eagerness and ability was the recognized leader.”
“Buddy too, I could see, was engrossed in this youngster. As soon as the matron of the Home returned with the girl, I asked her about the lad. ‘We would be glad to have you meet him, Mrs. Rogers,’ she told me,” the article continued. “Buddy and I had already talked with the girl when the boy was brought in and introduced. He marched straight up to us, shook hands firmly, looking us both in the eye. There was much wisdom in that 6-year-old look. I was sure that Buddy had the same feeling about him that I did… We called our boy Ronny Rogers.”
Despite Pickford’s excitement to become a mother, she also confessed the fears that come along with it—especially the unique fears that come with adoption.
“Every couple who considers adoption has some fear as to how it will work out. An infant probably absorbs an atmosphere. The older the child, people feel, the more adjustments will have to be made. These and other thoughts were in my mind as we left the Foundling Home that day with Ronny,” she said. “Yet one unmistakable fact loomed far above any other. We had gone into the Home man and wife—and had come out a family.”
Despite Ronny’s age, Pickford said that he received her unconditional love.
“Once in our home Ronny belonged as if he had been there all his life. True, a small boy is at some disadvantage when he transfers from a Foundling Home environment to a large Hollywood home where he is in somewhat of a spotlight,” she wrote. “Yet no child has been more loved than Ronny, and he has known this from the start. This love is all that really matters to a child whether his parents live in a two-room flat, a mansion, or a house by the side of the road.”
“There are thousands of youngsters in institutions who are well fed and well taken care of. What they do not have—something more important almost than being well fed—is the sense of belonging, of being loved,” she added. “My heart aches for these children. But it also aches for all the homes without children; for the couples who deprive themselves of the one thing it takes to make a home and a family—children to love.”
Although Pickford had prayed for an infant girl, God brought her a young boy.
“I had asked for a girl and expected an infant. If I had any disappointment at finding myself with a six-year-old boy, it didn’t last long. Ronny completely assaulted our hearts. I thank God for so guiding us,” she reflected. “Almost everyone wants an infant, but those from six to fourteen years of age are the ones really in need of a home. So much happiness flooded our house with the arrival of Ronny—that we soon decided to enlarge the family some more.”
Despite her initial anxieties, Pickford said that her trust in the Lord’s plan for her and her family kept her grounded.
Ten months after their adoption of Ronny, Pickford said that her dream of adopting an infant also came true.
“Within ten months the Lord had sent me what my heart fancied—an infant baby,” she said. “Please don’t be skeptical when I use the phrase ‘the Lord sent me,’ because when I think of the years I had been searching for an infant to adopt… the delays, the heartbreak, the difficulties and involvements that go with adoption, you can understand why I truly felt that God meant this particular child for me.”
“We named the baby Roxanne and everyone in the house was completely happy —except Ronny! ‘She’s a nuisance,’ he had said. ‘What’s so wonderful about her? Just another girl.’ But Ronny too was slowly to succumb to Roxanne’s baby charms. We watched the air of brother-ownership and self-appointed censor and guardian develop,” she continued.
Although Ronnny and Roxanne were sources of joy for Pickford, she knew that the home had to start with God and his word.
“No home can be a completely happy one without God,” she explained. “Bible reading and prayer have been to me like the foundation of a building. With sound religious training as a basis, children can grow up to become better citizens, and I find parents themselves acquire new depth and understanding while teaching the importance of God’s teachings to their offspring.”
“I was warmed inside with fresh love for my family and gratitude to God for the fulfillment of a life-long dream—a home with children.”
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