Thursday, February 08, 2007

Whole Child International

Kudos to 34-year-old Karen Gordon for using her $1.3 million divorce settlement to start a nonprofit organization to improve orphanages.

The word "orphanage" has become increasingly unpopular over the past 20 years. Newt Gingrich went under fire in 1994 after suggesting the return of Boys Town orphanages to care for abused and neglected children.

Gordon's initial offer to help United Nations officials explore how to improve care in orphanages was turned away. The rationale was that the World Health Organization and World Bank oppose putting children in orphanages, so "why bother fixing them?"

There is the ideal -- and then, there is reality.

The fact is that most of the world's 16.2 million orphans will spend their entire childhoods in an orphanage.

In 2006:
Only 6,500 of China's million orphans were adopted.
Only 3,700 of Russia's 700,000 orphans were adopted.
Only 43 of Nicaragua's 6,000 orphans were adopted.

Gordon's efforts to improve the standards of living for the many children who reside in orphanages was inspired by Hungarian pediatrician, Dr. Emmi Pikler.

The Pikler Institute in Bedapest was founded in 1946 on the belief that orphaned children can thrive only if they are nurtured with consistent care. Instead of rotating caregivers, Pikler has each one looking after the same group of 7-8 children for several years.

The care and setting at the Pikler Institute are designed to facilitate the development of attachment and security. Infants are free to play, rather than being confined to cribs all day. Caregivers are encouraged to talk frequently with the children, in order to facilitate bonding.

Gordon's quest to improve institutional care has taken her to 51 orphanages in 11 countries. She witnessed the outcomes of children were deprived of consistent, loving attention. One of her many initiatives in order to create positive long-term change is to supplement the pay and raise funding for Nicaraguan orphanage staff.

In the United States, we often use the term "children's home," since many children's parents are alive but unwilling or unable to care for them.

Like orphanages, children's homes have become a taboo subject... despite the fact that at least 94,650 foster children were housed in institutional settings in 2005.

Just as there are not enough adoptive parents for all of the world's orphans, there are definitely not enough foster parents in the world.

Dolan, Kerry. Creative Giving: Adopting a Crusade. Feb. 12, 2007, Forbes.
National Council for Adoption.
U.S. Department of State

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More of the children would be adopted if some of the following things changed:
If it wasn't so darn expensive. (Between 10 and 40 thousand to adopt).

If social workers didn't want *only* upper middle class people to adopt. (What's wrong with allowing people who live in apartments, condos, mobile homes, and so on to adopt? Also, instead of only white collar people, what about those who are blue collar?)

If there wasn't such a stigma against adopting as a first choice. (Why would you want to adopt? Just "have your own". Or, "We adopted after 10 years of fertility treatments", etc.)
Another thing I have been thinking about lately-
I wonder if the kids are truly orphans, or if they are stolen for financial gain of the adoption agencies and facilitators. Most people I know who have adopted internationally know nothing about their child's biological family. They claim it's just impossible to know, because it was from a different country. To me, that doesn't make sense. People in other countries do keep records, and they do communicate. To think that it's impossible for them to do so just results from the attitude that America is superior.
Hi Lisa thanks for your reply.
As you can see we in New Zealand have our own issues, What we are trying to do is stop the state, seperating famlies and have a independant system, thathopefully will ensure famlies that need help, or support recieve it rather than children just being placed in care.
Although my children now live with their dad, until late last year our youngest child barely knew him.
Thias was his choice , and now because the court appointed psycologist would like them to "bond" I am being prevented from having any access bar phone calls.
Unfortunately I covered up his emotional and physcial abuse.
I know what it was like to not really belong and dont see the sense in breaking on bond simply so another can form
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