This blog, All the Social Orphans, reflects my belief that we need to gather as much information as possible about children who are living out of parental care all over the world: where are they, how did they get there, how are they being treated by the national governments in their home countries? Over the years, I have gathered such data piecemeal, and I have decried the fact that there is no professional and objective body dedicated to the rights and interests of this huge cohort of children.
It is my hope that many difficult and important questions concerning the welfare of these children can be debated and information exchanged. I would love to hear from orphanage workers and those on the front lines with children who live on their own, or in inadequate care situations. It is out of far greater transparency that we can find our way to appropriate solutions for these children.
My own interest in children who live out of family care began on my first adoption journey nearly ten years ago. Many people do not know what a child care institution looks like or feels like; do not appreciate the intense loneliness of children who live without families. In teaching International Children’s Rights in recent times, I have come to understand that children who are unprotected and vulnerable to one form of abuse will also be vulnerable to another; that there are many ways in which children who grow up without stable family life are exploited.
My own background is in Japanese and English literature, and in international law. I taught International Trade Law at University College Dublin for a number of years, and returned to the US in 2001, where I have been a law professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, teaching Law of the European Union, public international law and International Children’s Rights.
I hope to focus on issues of abandonment, poverty, parental rights and the development of national policies in these areas. As the role of the United Nations in guiding child welfare policy is problematic, I hope to describe and discuss these issues as well.
It has been a matter of great frustration to me that what we know about children live in these difficult circumstances is only what we can uncover almost by chance, through a painstaking, day by day process. It occurred to me that a blog might be a good way to continue this search in public, as it were—and with the help of anyone who has information to share.
A later addition to what I have said above:
Someone mentioned that I could be clearer about what I would like to happen with this blog. I am looking for information that helps us to move beyond the static “camps” that speak to one another in this orphan debate. I understand that being open and honest may be difficult for orphanage workers, volunteers, advocates or other people who work in these systems and who have to maintain relationships with governments, to become guest bloggers–still, please try! I am happy to post credible comments anonymously if that helps….The main thing is to inject a sense of urgency into this debate, urgency that gets us past arguing endlessly about whether adoption is a good or a bad thing. Since the objectve investigative body that I called for in 2003 has not appeared, this blog is a direct action approach that seemed something I could do in the here and now.
I would be very happy to hear from any and all of you on these issues.