Tuesday, December 5, 2006
What Is It Like to Live in an Orphange? Part 1
One of the things that most parents who are adopting internationally think about is the life that their children had before being brought home.
It is clear that children are not meant to be raised in orphanages. Even in orphanages that have the best and most loving "nannies", there is very often just not enough attention to go around. Hopefully, there is enough formula and enough food. But these things merely sustain life. To be truly nourished, babies need to be held, to be soothed, to be loved.
Every infant requires at least one person in their world who will (try to) meet his or her every need. And while it is a blessing that in some orphanges the nannies really care about their charges, there is simply no substitute for a parent, or two, who is committed to loving a child and who can provide the one-on-one interaction that is so necessary for a child's physical and mental health. The research is very clear on this (like we needed science to figure this out!).
That is why I just cannot buy into the "cultural genocide" arguments sometimes raised against international adoption. If you are not familiar with this flavour of argument, it goes something like this: international adoption should not be permitted because it involves (typically economically-advantaged white people)removing children from their cultures and countries, and, in the long run, both the child and the culture will suffer.
If you think such an argument is too esoteric to be worth worrying about, consider this: ostensively, it was used to strong-arm Romania to close its international adoption program in order for it to be accepted into the EU. It is the argument still being put forward by the likes of Baroness Emma Nicholson (of the UK), who is a staunch opponent of international adoption. Her influence may yet cause other countries that want EU membership to close their intercountry adoption programs.
So, when adoption from an orphanage is not an option for many children, who really suffers? Their culture?
I wonder if the Baroness can look into the eyes of children who have never known a mother's touch and tell them that it was "all for the better"?
I think not.