I adopted my daughter from a Bulgarian orphanage, and I have written about the experience in previous articles. I also have experience as a foster care social worker, and I saw firsthand the effects group homes had on children. Because of my background, I have a rather unique perspective on the subject. It is crucial that people understand that kids need families, not group homes or orphanages for the following reasons.
1. Children can become institutionalized. They begin to hoard food, toys, and even compete for affection with their caretakers. Hoarding is particularly common in this environment.
The University of Maryland’s Nathan Fox, a researcher in the field of child development, studied a group of children in a Romanian orphanage for 13 years. He found that the brain cells of these children actually shrunk and their social interaction was extremely impaired. However, kids who had “secure attachment(s) actually showed enhanced brain activity at age 8,” according to Fox.
Also noteworthy is the fact that according to social services in the United States, children who are neglected often suffer the same consequences socially and emotionally. Factors such as caregiver addiction or generational poverty contribute to such situations.
2. Caretakers in orphanages and group homes can change and change often. This interferes with a child’s attachment abilities which not only affects the child in the short term, but long term relationships as well. Children need the stability that only families can offer.
3. Children get much more individualized attention in a family setting that can better accommodate their unique personalities and specific needs.
4. Strong families offer lifelong support – it doesn’t end with age 18. However, with most orphanages and group homes, the material needs and the emotional support comes to an abrupt halt when the child comes of legal age.
Even if you cannot foster or adopt, please consider supporting worthy organizations who aid in finding children loving and permanent homes.
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