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Earthquake orphan appeal: Do not adopt earthquake orphans

Jan 16, 2010 05:05 PM
Earthquake orphan appeal: Do not adopt earthquake orphans

Reasons why adopting an earthquake orphan may not be the best thing to do

See also sponsoring Earthquake orphans and Haiti Earthquake Orphan appeal.

When you see any child who has lost their family on the news, your natural instinct is to want to go and pick them up and cherish them. You should not feel guilty about this instinct, it is part of being human and most of us share it. There is also a deep wisdom in this reaction about the need for a proper long term solution for the child not just one day's hot meal. However before taking steps toward trying to adopt an earthquake child, you should stop and think:

1) Is you adopting them the best solution for the child? A child who has started growing up in a community and their lost parents still has some inner security from knowing their environment, knowing other adults, familiar weather, the sound of local language or accents and their general surrounding (even smells, humidity and temperature). You may feel you can offer the most caring environment in the world, but it may not be the one where the child feels most secure.

2) Is this approach cost effective? Caring for children locally in the long term is much cheaper than uprooting them and bringing them over for adoption. SOS Children has a well proven model for orphans based on family groups of about ten children with a well-trained mother, who can manage the children's stress and bereavement. About fifteen families live together in one purpose built village and this community in the community is a good solution for local children. We do not provide a first world environment: children sleep four to a room, but we provide a loving environment that is culturally local, with local language and religion where children can feel secure.

3) Can you know that the child really has no-one? SOS Children has a wealth of experience after crises all around the world; Rwanda, Kashmir, Tsunami, Kosovo and many others. Sometimes parents are found years later still mourning the child they thought was dead. Do you want to have adopted an earthquake orphan away from that culture and deny a mother the chance of re-finding her baby?

4) Are many of us really up to it? The chances are that a child from a very deprived background like Haiti may have development problems from malnutrition and a poor educational start in life. Integrating them happily into Western society may not give rise to a happy time at school or in future independence where disadvantages may matter. Trauma in their past may be hard to heal. The dream may not match the reality in many ways.

Of course sometimes international adoption is the right solution for a child but far more often it is not. Instead we suggest you do something positive about your protective feelings for these children. SOS Children will soon have many thousands of children in emergency centres. Why not become an emergency relief sponsor and help support and protect them? When we have completed the process of searching for their lost parents and establishing whether the children have extended families or other possible homes, we will change emergency relief sponsorship into a long term sponsorship for a particular child or village. It won't be for as long perhaps as you would be caring for a child, but we will be there for them through to independence with the love and skills needed for any issues such a child may bring.

If you would like to start supporting eathquake orphans we suggest you complete the online forms on Sponsor a Child online but state in instructions "emergency relief sponsorship". IF you wish to donate to our Disaster Appeal, please use the online donation page and give instructions "earthquake disaster relief" (or if you follow this link directly to the donation page we'll assume that's what you wanted). 100% of funds raised in this online appeal will be passed on to Haiti.

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Sponsor a child in Asia: Children in Asia face extreme natural disasters and the threat of poverty – sponsoring a child gives a child a chance.