Why would someone consider voluntarily relinquishing their child and putting them up for adoption? A horribly difficult decision and one that too many parents face too often. It almost always comes down to resources – but not always the resources that you might think. Economic Resources – there are some who bring their child(ren) to an orphanage for strictly economic reasons. They don’t have the ability to provide food and the basic necessities of life for their child. Now a couple of questions that come with that:
- Is their inability to provide the economic necessities of life a long term situation or is it because of a short term event? Short term event – like a drought or a hurricane wiping out their crops? Or the death of a parent? Or the loss of a job? Is it something where relatively short term assistance could help them get back on their feet?
- Or is the inability to provide a bigger issue? Like a lack of industry? A lack of the ability to read? A lack of job training? The unaffordability of decent housing (decent according to that country’s standards?
The answer to those questions determine, in many ways, the appropriate way to help. If it’s a short term “thing,” then helping with short term assistance of food etc. might be appropriate. If it’s a bigger issue, then job training, education, housing assistance might be the way to help. Emotional Resources – lets face it, being a parent is hard work. And living in a place like Haiti or Uganda or the Congo is hard work. So when you are a parent in one of these countries, it’s doubly hard. Now throw in the fact that many of these parents are single parents due to a wide variety of reasons and it’s even harder. Many times biological parents need emotional support. They need to know they aren’t in this alone. They need to know that there are people and ways they can get help when they need it. Just knowing that provides them with the support they need to keep going. Medical Resources – in places like Haiti, 20% of the children don’t live to celebrate their 5th birthday. Unfortunately many of them die from diseases that could be prevented or cured in the first world. So many biological parents are forced to bring their children to an orphanage if they get seriously ill. If there were more hospitals and more access to affordable health care in the 3rd world, more children could be cured medically AND be able to stay with their birth family. Safety Resources – consider the impact of homelessness on safety. Consider the impact of living under a tarp in a “tent city” that is “ruled” by gangs. Consider not having the ability to keep your young daughters safe from sexual violence? That’s another one of the resources that causes birth parents to bring their children to an orphanage. They don’t feel like they can keep them safe, so they bring them to someone who they feel/hope/think can keep them safe. Each of these categories of need can be addressed. But it’s messy. And hard. We’ll talk more about that coming up in the future. Tom