My white paper is on the subject of institutionalization in Eastern and Central European countries with transitional economies, and how adoptions agencies can play a part in improving childcare in these areas. The documentary “Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children” exemplifies this institutionalization well, and is mentioned in the paper, I have posted the link to it below. And a summary of the paper below that.
In the past few decades, an international spotlight has been shone on the plight of children in institutional care, particularly in the countries in transition of Eastern and Central Europe. This attention has drawn sympathy, and a windfall of funding after every major documentary of institutions such as Mogilino Social Care Home, and every report on the deplorable conditions and treatment in the orphanages in Romania. True change at a social, structural, or policy level, however, is slow to come. The flux of transitioning to a market economy makes for a complicated and under regulated public sector, that continues to serve in the capacity of caretaker of the wards of the state, orphans, children with physical disabilities or mental conditions, and “social orphans” whose parents cannot afford them. This continues on as privatization and the development of a non-profit sector gradually come into sight. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of children languish in rancid institutions, suffering sexual and physical abuse, malnutrition, and severely impaired development. In some cases it appears that the service thought to be provided by this institutions in not to tend, educate and create productive members of society, but rather to remove societal blights and “problems” from the communities, and allow them a place to die out of plain sight, quietly and without much ado.
Running parallel to these events is the incredibly high international adoption rate of this region of the world, in large part due to religious families’ efforts to provide a loving home to these desperate children. The difficulty, however, is that this demand for adoption alleviates pressure on these countries governments and citizens to develop strong private and non-profit sectors to provide alternative care in place of institutionalization. For this reason, this paper advocates for the consideration by adoption advocacy organizations such as Lifesong for Orphans, of ways in which they can integrate this development into their operations through cross-sectoral collaboration, adjustment of evangelic focus, and social innovation in care.