A Word about Orphanages

Before I write about our recent experiences, I wanted to share a bit about overseas orphanages. I know people who have adopted children from extremely negligent places. It does happen. But generally, the biggest problem I’ve seen is the orphanages are understaffed. There is no way to meet every need of every child when your time is consumed with survival.

My next few entries are likely to cause westerners to shake their heads in pity and their fists in anger. We expect children to be evaluated and treated accordingly. These nannies have never studied child psychology and haven’t read the latest articles on behavioral science. And, though many of the nannies truly care for the children, those kids still live in an institutionalized system. Let’s be honest, institutional living leaves scars on every life it touches.

We live in a sin-infested world. Sadly, there are children who are deemed unworthy because of their needs and sometimes survival of the fittest is played out in the orphan world. In the middle of all this darkness and chaos, there are those who love on the children placed in their care. Those who spend every ounce of strength changing diapers, clothes, and bedsheets. (And, not just for those adorable infants, either.) Women who feed children, brush their hair, and help them get dressed. All they see, everyday, is a room full of kids in need of food, clothes, and shelter. I hate to see these nannies turned into the enemy as well-meaning parents tell their stories.

I am not praising a broken system. I get it. Orphanages aren’t wonderful, cuddly places. But, they serve a purpose. Be it war, disease, poverty, or cultural pressure, orphanages are only needed because there are orphans in the world. These children would have never survived without a place willing to house and feed them.

Although they serve a purpose, the truth is every child needs a family, not just caretakers. Only in families can children grow and blossom in every area of their lives. As we try to share some of our story, it will be messy. Families and children are a lot like flowers. When they are cleaned, cut, and put out on display, they eventually whither. But, when they are in the soil, enduring the rain, the sun, the cold, they grow and thrive.

Even with the disappointment we experienced at our daughter’s orphanage (more on that later), we are thankful for the ladies who were present in K’s life. We are thankful that she had a place to sleep and receive nourishment. And, we long for the day when we see her thriving in our family.

~ Regina

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