There are estimatedly 153 million orphans across the world, according to UNICEF. Sixty one million of them live in Asia. The rising number of orphans are due to many reasons, including war, illness, abandonment and poverty. Supposedly, poverty should not be a reason for children to be submitted to orphanages, but many parents are unable to provide for their children and orphanages seems to be a simple solution to accommodate their children’s needs. At least they will be fed and sent to schools.
Children in orphanages will not simply be transferred to foster families, though. They must be eligible for adoption and so are the foster families. Adoption often takes a lot of effort, especially when the orphan and the adopting family are from different countries. Also, overcrowded orphanages will provide less and less decent care and treatment towards the children. There has been many cases of abuse in orphanages, yet these children are helpless for they don’t have any other support besides the orphanage. If their basic needs are not even met, let alone the need for affection?
However affectionate the staffs of an orphanage is towards the children, they are still no substitute for real families. The lack of affection and sense of belonging could significantly affect their behavioral and brain development towards the negative spectrum.
A more sustainable alternative to orphanages is family-centered, individualized care. According to UNICEF, around 90% of orphaned children in the world actually have at least one living parent. But these parents are not able to support their children’s needs, as mentioned above, so they give the children up for orphanages. In this case, governments are recommended to allocate more budget to help families who are struggling financially, instead of orphanages. Financially, running orphanages is much more costly than supporting individual families. It’s less expensive and more beneficial for the children as they are not separated from their parents to live in an unfamiliar community.
As for orphans who have no living parents, family preservation and strengthening programs could be an effective solution besides orphanages. The programs may be in the form of temporary foster care by relatives or other families who are not their relatives by blood. This way, orphans are given a more intimate care and affectionate environment to grow up.