Since 1918, Hope Cottage has been building strong families through education, counseling, and adoption services, making the agency Dallas’ oldest nonprofit, secular adoption agency and one of United Way Metro Dallas’ original seven partner agencies.
Hope Cottage sprang from the vision of one woman, Emma Wylie Ballard, who recognized a need to provide care for children abandoned on the streets of Dallas.
The Birth of Hope
Unwed pregnancy was a shameful condition, and many women felt they had no other alternatives than to leave their children in cars, in barns, and even, in the case of one tot, on an anthill. Mrs. Ballard had a mission – her babies. She worked tirelessly soliciting donations of money and goods alike, all for her babies, her Hope Babies. She took to the streets in her Model A with the signature stork on the front, picking up donations. The door was always open at Hope Cottage, and all children in need were welcome.
Hope Cottage opened its doors in June 1918 in a small house at 1405 Seeger Street in The Cedars area of Dallas (south of downtown). After only two weeks, Hope Cottage was filled to capacity and the hunt was on for a new home. Within a few weeks, Hope Cottage on was moved to larger quarters at the old Presbyterian Mission Home.
The first years were lean as the agency relied entirely upon the Humane Society and the community for donations.
Bills for an average month included:
- Laundry: $200
- Milk: $175
- Medicines: $160
- Rent: $50
- Gas in summer: $17
- Gas in winter for heat: $50
Hope Cottage moved multiple times, until 1922 when crowded conditions led to the construction of the red brick Georgian mansion that thousands of babies called their first home. Completed in 1923 and located at 2301 Welborn (site of the current playground for the Scottish Rite Hospital), it was Hope Cottage’s home for 55 years. Baby Camp (which later became Children’s Medical Center) was nearby and Parkland Hospital was right across the street. Babies and toddlers lived at Hope Cottage until a home could be found for them. Nurses provided round the clock care and volunteers from the community would rock and feed the babies, raise funds, and sew clothing and bedding for the children. During the first 40 years of its existence, Hope Cottage charged no adoption fees, relying entirely on donors and the Community Chest and later the United Way to fund operations. Hope Cottage was truly supported by the community.
By 1978, babies no longer lived at Hope Cottage, instead going home with their adoptive parents straight from the hospital. There was no need for a building this size, so Hope Cottage sold its original home on Welborn and moved to 4209 McKinney. In May of 2014, Hope Cottage sold that property and moved to Dallas’ Wilson Historic District where plans for the agency’s second century of service were begun.
In the spring of 2015, Hope Cottage launched a $4.6 million dollar comprehensive capital campaign: Hope Cottage . . . For the Next 100 Years, to construct a new service center in the Wilson Historic District of Dallas and to expand programming in three areas: Foster to Adopt, services for pregnancy clients, and Youth Education. Construction on the new building was begun in June 2015 and completion is scheduled for April 2016.
In addition to adoption services of the highest quality for both infants and children in the foster care system, Hope Cottage is committed to providing:
- Free services to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy, with no pressure or obligation to choose adoption.
- Parenting preparation for women and families.
- Free CEU seminars about adoption to the professional and lay community.
- Character education on the harsh realities of being a teen parent, good decision making, and
healthy relationships to more than 5,000 teens annually.
Specialized counseling for all members of the adoption triad – the adoptive parents, birth family members, and adoptees began in 1991. Additionally, Adoption Education for Youth was established in the same year and has since expanded to include three distinct curriculum. Over the years as the adoption-related needs of the community have changed from “baby nurseries” and “maternity homes” to comprehensive pre- and post-adoption services, Hope Cottage has changed as well. During the last 97 years, more than 16,000 children have found adoptive homes through Hope Cottage and services have been provided to more than 30,000 women, children, and families.
To learn more about Hope Cottage, adoption and all the services the agency provides to the community, visit their website or call 214.526.8721. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and its blog.