South Africa and the astonishing orphan numbers…..

Note  the release of a new report on AIDS orphans in South Africa–at nearly one and a half  million, they represent half of all that country’s orphaned population…..

In 2007, there were 1.4 million AIDS orphans living in South Africa, representing nearly half of all orphans. Given that these children are extraordinarily vulnerable [to] extreme poverty and hunger with no parents or community to care for them (for often they are stigmatized with the HIV-positive status of their deceased parents), South Africa is unlikely to solve the challenges of child mortality without systematically addressing the orphan crisis. This holds true for southern African countries facing similar problems, such as Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Despite so much political and constitutional progress in South Africa, it is more than disheartening to see how bleak the picture remains for child health and welfare generally….South Africa is often mentioned as a country with a possible commitment to opening up to international options for these children–so far, one hears little of a concrete nature…..It is so difficult to understand what it means to say that it is time to “deal with” the problem–so vague–It is always galling to see how little interest there is at the top levels of international diplomacy in the human rights and immediate needs of children living essentially on their own….


Amy Klobuchar–someone’s thinking!

It is rare these days to hear anything about simplification of international adoption procedures!  Kudos to Amy Klobuchar for taking on this issue in order to facilitate adoptions, albeit in a limited way–and eliminate some of the bureaucratic hurdles facing them…

When we know from so much research that placing children in institutions constitutes child abuse, it is amazing how many factors prevent even completely adoptable children from finding their way out….

Towards a new, anti-pornography culture

I know this may seem a bit off topic with respect to this blog, but I was so deeply impressed by this article that I could not help but post it.

Professor Dines  has taken on this huge subject in a bold, comprehensive fashion and I hope we will hear a lot more from her on it!  I think that her insight into the distorting effects of internet pornography on perceptions and behavior also helps us to understand more about the extreme dangers to young people who find themselves in situations of vulnerability.  She is also very compelling on the idea that we are allowing children to be inundated by these “toxic messages”, while doing very little about it. Bravo, Professor Dines!

A great point

Tripp Balz here takes on the erroneous notion that adoption should be characterized as a “last resort” for children–at least in those many, many cases where it is clear that they are not going to be reunited with original families….

He has a great phrase–see below–to the effect that children grow up faster than countries–that is, you cannot make children wait and wait until the country develops all the relevant structures to keep them happily and safely “at home”!

Russia’s social orphan issue rightly called a “humanitarian catastrophe”

Further confirmation that there is no slowing the rise in numbers of children in Russia who are living out of care of their families…. It is unclear whether the figure of 700,000 cited in the piece below captures the fact that, after a certain age, most institutionalized children leave the orphanages, to try and live the best they can–often on the streets in appalling conditions, as detailed in the Unicef report cited in my post of last week on children and HIV….

The gist of the article was that while negative adoption stories may cause political furore in Russia, further restrictions on international adoption completely ignore the human rights needs of the massive social orphan population…

… while international adoption is a big political issue, the numbers in Russia’s orphanages continue to climb.

There are now 700,000 orphans, 30 per cent of them living in state homes, according to figures from the parliamentary committee on family and children – more than at the end of World War II. Pro rata it’s four to five times higher than in the west.

Committee bosses describe it as a “humanitarian catastrophe”, and it’s one which childcare workers fear is being hidden by the lurid headlines.

“The main issue is not to forget about the kids behind all this talk about controls and regulations,” Director of educational centre of ROOF Olga Tikhomirova told The Moscow News.

This is for me a truism at this stage–as I have continually argued against debating adoption questions via anecdote….

Unicef’s new report on children and HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Thanks to our Irish friends, I was told about the just released Unicef report on the dire situation of children and rates of HIV transmission in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. You will find the report at this site:

The report makes for shocking reading–among the main points: The region has the “highest rates of family separation in the world”–with 1.3 million children living out of family care. Rates of institutionalization are not decreasing–rather, abandonment is increasing.  80 percent of sex workers in the region are young people….The report cites to an “explosive mix of injecting drug use and…sexual transmission”–all affecting young people in large numbers.

All of this is grim enough reading in its own right–but how can it be squared with Unicef’s relentless opposition to international adoption for very young children in the category of those who are unlikely ever to be reunited with biological families? The galling thing about Unicef is that they present research results like these (as with their work on street children)–but then when these facts are relied upon in making an argument that some percentage of children in these social and economic environments need to be given another life before it is too late–they reject that conclusion.  Like Terre des hommes, they simply repeat the phrase that the children have “living relatives.” How successful has Unicef been in implementing the services it is constantly claiming will result in the solution for these children? How much social transformation has Unicef been able to achieve–the rationale for its incessant opposition to international adoption?

The report is a must read….the photos are harrowing….

Central Asian migrants in Russia….

This from the BBC is a very complex story…..

Odd that the person running the shelter says that he is motivated by his sense that these children should not grow up in orphanages! Of course they should not!!  One would hope that each child could be kept under happy circumstances by original mothers–but where not, why not allow these children in particular to be adopted internationally? Unless a large number of Russians wish to adopt them–is that likely??

It reads in part:

“I am against the very notion of orphanages,” he says. “Children that grew up there are poorly adapted to life, they don’t know simple things: how to cook, how to behave in some social situations. They are too institutionalised.”

He and Ms Yuldasheva are trying to persuade Zebi to keep Jahongir, but the young woman is under pressure from her family. Her mother back in Tajikistan wants Jahongir put up for adoption so Zebi can return home alone.

Social stigma plays a big part, as a migrant woman returning home with a child will be looked down upon. Zebi’s family think Jahongir is “haram” – a dirty child – and they do not want him.

The Russian authorities confirm that a growing number of babies born to Central Asian migrants are left in the care of Moscow orphanages.

In the past five months alone, 150 newborn children were left by their migrant mothers. Numbers could be far higher, as only officially registered children are counted, according to Russia’s Department of Family and Youth policy.

Would it be that difficult to ask the Russian authorities to do something effective about this situation? Who will follow these children as they grow, where family reunification does not occur? A blip on the BBC radar screen?