I happened to run across this story out of Bulgaria–which contained the kind of images (there is some accompanying videotape) I have seen many times before, but it did get me thinking anew. http://www.russiatoday.com/Top_News/2009-05-16/Bulgaria_sees_alarming_rise_in_child-abandonment_cases_by_young_mothers.html?page=40
In the case of Bulgaria, one cannot but be struck by the many children in institutions–the lucky ones in “better” orphanages–and the complete lack of political will to find them new families, assuming they will not be going back home. The piece makes the point that many of these children are born to very young teenage mothers.
In my Children’s Rights class this past year, we viewed the recent BBC Four documentary made by the amazing Kate Blewett (of Dying Rooms fame) in a special needs orphanage in Bulgaria. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/bulgarias-children.shtml
This documentary caused a great EU-wide flap, with the Bulgarian side decrying the film as unrepresentative of the situation of institutionalised Bulgarian children–and so on and so forth.
Bulgaria is a perfect example of a country where the situation of social orphans could be very accurately assessed and publicized. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, and there is no lack of capacity to engage in that kind of fact finding. The EU could, if it wanted to, insist that these children be either reunited with their families or found new families at a young enough age to prevent serious damage to their emotional and intellectual wellbeing.
What sadder image than that of the orphanage children at the gate, being whisked back inside by their care givers, lest someone might see them and publicize their situation?