Charitable Donation Advice
Charitable Donation Advice is a recurring education effort. We work hard for our money, and we want it to work hard for the world, too! So, we learn more about our favorite causes so that we make informed charitable donation that make an impact.
Do Orphanages Cause Orphans?
If you’re like me, the thought of a child alone, without his or her parents, trying to take care of themselves is heartbreaking, and you may send money to an orphanage– perhaps one in Haiti to help all the children who have lost their parents in the earthquake.
Our hope would be that these children, who have nowhere else to go, would receive food, shelter, an education, and an opportunity for a better life. And we wouldn’t be alone. There are over 600 orphanages in Haiti– many of which are receiving support from well-intentioned international donors.
Orphans are Good Business
A lot of money can be made off of orphans. In fact, one couple in China was convicting for selling 85 babies to government run orphanages. Each child sold for around $600, and the family made about $3,000 per month. The government run orphanages turned around and sold those same babies for substantially more money in international adoptions. According to the article, the Chinese government acknowledges that each year 30,000 to 60,000 children go missing– most of them abducted (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/24/world/la-fg-china-adopt24-2010jan24).
Children are Easily Exploited
It doesn’t just happen in China. Every place where orphanages pop up, children who are not orphans end up in them. How is that possible? Sometimes children are abducted. Sometimes parents are promised their children will get an education if given to the orphanage. Sometimes children are surrendered because the parents don’t have the means to feed their children.
Orphanages seek orphans because international adoptions are profitable and because orphans are great for soliciting donations. Save the Children, the world’s leading independent children’s rights organization, reports that nearly 40% of children in Zimbabwe orphanages have a living parent, 92% of children in private residential institutions in Sri Lanka had one or both parents living, 70% of children living in institutional care in Azerbaijan have parents, and of their assessment of 49 orphanages in conflict-stricken Liberia, 98% of the children had at least one surviving parent (http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/Misguided_Kindness_3.pdf).
Orphanages Damage Children
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the body of evidence shows that orphanages are damaging to children. Save the Children’s 34 page report “Keeping Children Out of Harmful Institutions” reviews a large body of scientific studies about children in orphanages documenting their increased risk of abuse, exploitation, disease, their decreased emotionally and intellectual development, and reduced economic and social opportunity.
One study of Romanian children found that for every 2.6 months spent in a Romanian orphanage, a child falls behind one month of normal growth, had significantly lower IQs and levels of brain activity, and were far more likely to have social and behavioral abnormalities such as disturbances and delays in social and emotional development, aggressive behavior problems, inattention and hyperactivity, and a syndrome that mimics autism (http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/54_9678.htm).
Orphanages should be the last resort for taking care of children.
Instead, support families. By helping a family become self-sufficient, they won’t need to give up their children to orphanages because they have no other options. In cases where a child has no living parents, or parents unwilling or unable to care for the child, locate a child’s relatives (grandparents, aunts, and uncles) who can take of them and financially support these relatives. It’s cheaper and healthier for children to be in a home and not in an orphanage.
If we were really committed to supporting orphans in an orphanage, we have to do some serious work to find a reliable orphanage truly providing good care for the right reasons. If we don’t do that leg work, we make actually be creating the situation that brings children into orphanages in the first place. And I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I’d feel good about.