Monday, January 12, 2015

Orphanage

Oh, how I hate the word orphanage.  I hate what they do to children. I often say "children belong in families, not orphanages" and it's more than just a cliche to me.

Raising a child who lived in an institution, an orphanage, lets you in on the devastating truth about what that life does to a child. The effects are long lasting and they are heart breaking. That is why I advocate for children and want orphanages emptied out.

When Afua first joined our family, I could place her in the middle of a large room and she would only move the area equivalent to her crib. She didn't know a world larger  than that existed. She didn't know about toys, music, about tickles or a brother's love. After a short amount of time, she was tired and wanted to be alone.

discovering toys

She wouldn't cry, because in an institution crying does not amount to positive attention, only punishment. Institutionalized children feel little pain, they can shut off their world to block out feelings and they stop experiencing reality. Some rock, some bang their heads, some cause harm to their bodies. That is familiar and that brings comfort. Mother's arms feel scary and unknown. 


It's hard to describe the orphanage experience without exposing what my children went through. And it's just as hard to think other children are living that reality every day.  My children are brave, resilient survivors of a life that no child should endure.

This is why I advocate. Because I went, I saw and I experienced the after effects with my children. I know more children need families. The ones who are hidden in cribs, need voices to share that they exist.Because a picture of a child that is malnourished, neglected, disabled is hard to see. And it's sometimes scary to say "yes" to the unknowns that it brings. But on the other side, a family can be a game changer.


And this can be the result:
experiencing childhood joys





8 comments:

  1. I was JUST looking at old pictures with my son last night (home 4 years) and we came upon one building with flowers along the front steps. He said, "Wow Mom, that's a pretty place! Where is it?" I hated having to tell him that it was his orphanage. Keep up the advocating Joyful Journey Mom!

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  2. Beautiful post. My son's orphanage was a beautiful place and the workers were loving and attentive, but you can't escape the fact that children are NOT supposed to spend their lives there. They become one of many instead of cherished individuals. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Tiffany, I am so glad to here about your son's orphanage. I know there are places that do their very best. Unfortunately for my girl, that wasn't the case. And you are right, even in the best circumstances, institutionalized care just isn't good for children.

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  3. I totally agree. My son's orphanage did their best, but it wasn't enough. He needed someone to hold him when he was sad, take care of him when he was sick, tickle him and be silly. Someone to care about his deep hurt and help him navigate it. Someone to hug him every day and tell him he matters and he is loved. I'm glad we are able to give him that now, I wish he didn't have to go through it in the first place. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Mama Bear, I so hear every word and know the feeling behind them. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

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  4. Yes, children need families. However, I am thankful for the care takers that were at my son's orphanage. Even though they did their best to love the children, they never had enough $$ to properly care for the children. For countries with a broken system, we need to be supporting orphanages until changes are made. I believe many truly care for the children, but the lack the resources to properly care for them. That was my experience. The orphanages I visited that had some support were radically different from the ones that did not.

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    1. Hi Tessy, thanks for sharing your experience. Funding does make a difference in quality of care and there are some who truly care for the children. It is still group care and not a family. Some countries are moving toward a foster care type system and outcomes are even better. And domestic adoptions increase in family care settings. It's a tough topic and in my child's case the care was abusive and neglectful. I am so glad your son was in a caring environment.

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