Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Orphanages Are NOT the Solution

Orphanages are not the solution to the millions and millions of children who are unable to grow up with their birth families. Orphanages should only be a temporary home for children until children can be adopted into a forever family.

Why do I think orphanages should only be temporary homes, not permanent solutions? Because research has shown that living in institutions has an adverse effect on children socially, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Children in orphanages often have to compete with other children for food and for attention from caregivers. Poor nutrition is common in orphanages.

Children raised in orphanages have developmental delays. Without mommy and daddy there to clap and cheer for every new accomplishment and without proper developmental stimulation, children are much slower to developmental milestones such as sitting up, walking, talking, etc. Not only are children in orphanages slower to reach developmental milestones, they are also behind in growth. Slow growth results from the lack of loving care and the lack of proper nutrition.

Children left in cribs for hours on end do not receive proper loving care or sensory stimulation for development.

Because of the lack of a stimulating environment, children often develop self-stimulating behaviors including unusual posturing, head banging, pulling hair and biting one's self, swaying and rocking. These behaviors result from a lack of a primary mother figure that would love, nurture and soothe the infant, and from the lack of a stimulating environment including toys and human interaction. "Self-stimulating behavior is a normal reaction to an abnormal environment. This behavior occurs because of the child’s need to restore the sensory requirements necessary for their brain development." (

What does the future hold for these children? If they aren't adopted into forever families, their future holds prostitution, crime, homelessness, slavery, and suicide.

Children who grow up in an orphanage will eventually age out of an orphanage (usually at around  15-16 years of age.) Since they have had very little contact with the world outside the orphanage, they are ill prepared to live in this world. (Many children in orphanages are never taken outside the orphanage.) Children who age out, must leave the orphanage with no where to go and no family to turn to for help. "In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18, 60% of the girls are lured into prostitution, 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans. Reliable statistics are difficult to find, even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included. But even if these figures are exaggerated by double, it is still an unacceptable tragedy that over a million children would still become orphans every year, and every year 7 million children would still grow to adulthood as orphans with no one to belong to and no place to call home." (

Just improve orphanage conditions, right? More caregivers, more toys, better nutrition, better education and job training. That is all these orphages need.


"The institution itself places children at-risk. The regimentation and ritualization of institutional life do not provide children with the quality of life, or the experiences they need to be healthy, happy, fully functioning adults. In group care, the child's needs are secondary to the requirements of the group's routine. Relationships between adults and children are usually superficial and brief, with little continuous warmth and affection. Institutional staff do not connect emotionally or physically with children in quite the same way that families connect with children. Finally, the age at placement and the length of institutionalization have an effect on children. The younger the child when placed and the longer he/she remains in the institution, the more negative the effects on cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development." ( )

God designed children to grow up in a family. Family is the solution for children who are orphaned, abandoned, or who have had their parents rights terminated due to neglect or abuse. Permanent, loving family is the solution. Not orphanages. Not even foster care. (I am a big fan of foster care as a temporary family and home for children who need to be temporarily separated from birth family, but not for long term care of children available for adoption. Foster care is an even better temporary solution than orphanages. But foster care should also always be temporary.) Adoption is the solution! Sponsorship of children so they can stay with there birth families instead of being abandoned or left at an orphanage because a family can't even afford to feed them.

These documentaries are further examples of what orphanage life is like and why children should not be living in orphanages!

Ukraine's Forgotten Children

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children

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