I have been thinking about the name itself–Save the Children! No wonder this “children’s charity” gets worldwide attention for its every utterance–even if totally off base. This time, Save the Children has released what it is calling “research” results to indicate that most orphans have living parents and that the contrary view is a myth. The main problem with this “new” information is that everyone already knows about it. No one with any involvement in children’s issues believes that most children in institutions are without living parents. The idea that people do generally think that is itself a myth. But here goes the world’s press—reacting in awe to these comments….
We know that Save the Children has been vehemently opposed to international adoption–explicitly and on the record–for years. I have never been able to understand why they are accepted as an expert in this matter. Like UNICEF, they are not set up to deal with this issue. Many who support them are not aware of how much energy they expend in opposing adoption. The latest “report” focuses on the exploitation of children with living parents by, yes, orphanages.
The report notes what we all know–that children who grow up in institutions often encounter tragic, frightening life outcomes. Having opposed international adoption, knowing that adoptive parents cannot be found domestically in adequate numbers in most countries, and filling a child welfare policy vacuum (where is the expert international body I keep calling for?), Save the Children now blames…orphanages.
The problem with the Save the Children/Unicef view of the social orphan problem (or one of the problems–there are many) is that it is so doctrinaire and simplistic. They fail to differentiate between policies needed to deal with children who become detached from original families because of poverty per se, and children who are not brought up in those families because of other, complex social factors. They fail to admit that they are incapable of carrying out the investments needed to accomplish mass scale family reunification. They rely on broad and sweeping charges against everyone in the various systems–except, of course, themselves and the governments they are trying to influence.
The upshot? Foster care–foster care!!! The BBC reported this week on foster care in Russia–one home it showed (and there is virtually no international access on these matters) had eight children crowded into a house or apartment–it was not looking very good for those children. Anyone who believes that children who are unlikely to be reunited with original families should, as a matter of children’s rights, go into foster care rather than an adoption system, is living in some bizarre and even cruel fantasy land….