What’s wrong with orphanages? (Part 1)

January 15, 2016

Over the past couple weeks on this blog, we have looked at the tragic consequences of fatherlessness and in our society.  The documentary, Stuck, which currently is touring select US theaters, also is highlighting many of the issues relating to international adoption and orphanages around the world.

One thing becomes clear after looking at the sobering realities resulting from the orphan crisis we face.

There are some real problems in this world surrounding orphans and at-risk children that we need to address together or we won’t even be able to make a small dent in the problem.

Edmund Burke’s wise words that “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” definitely applies to the world of orphan care.  And to really “do something” and love orphans with excellence and best practices, we need to collaborate, pool our resources, and work together as a unified team.  This collaboration, teamwork, and unity in loving orphans with excellence is what we’re passionate about at Providence.

We hope that you share our passion and are actively working to love orphans as God loves them.

But as we pursue our passion, we need to first answer a critical question, and constantly remind ourselves of the answer during our journey.

Why demand excellence and best practices for these children?

If you’re anything like I used to be, you might be saying to yourself: “ OK, I get it – I should help orphans. But what’s wrong with the care in institutional orphanages existing today?  Why doesn’t filling orphans’ basic needs constitute best practices and excellence in orphan care?   And why do orphans even need best practices, excellence, and comprehensive care?  After all, anything they get in any orphanage is much better than they currently are getting.”

Maybe you’ve visited an institution that loves the children well, or have seen children from such orphanages thriving in society.  Or maybe you agree with the “something is better than nothing” approach to caring for them.

In this series over the next few weeks, we hope to answer common questions about institutional orphanages and shed some light on why the “something is better than nothing” approach to orphan care just isn’t sufficient.

Yes, there are specific relief situations (e.g., natural disasters) that require rapid response and simply providing for the children’s basic needs.

And yes, there are definitely “success stories” in the realm of institutional orphanages, both with respect to orphanages and the adults they produce (i.e., orphans who are productive members of society and community leaders after aging out of the system).

But such situations are very uncommon and thus should remain exceptions, not the rule.

In fact, many of the directors of institutional orphanages with whom I have talked are seeking to somehow transition to a family model of orphan care because they have seen the shortfalls inherent in any system that neglects family and other best practices.

So what’s wrong with orphanages?

Why do we need to do anything to change them?

Why demand excellence and best practices for orphans?

We must understand the answers to these questions before thinking any further about any best practice framework for orphanages.  After all, if we can’t establish a problem that needs to be fixed, then why would we work in this area at all?

What are your answers?  We’d love to hear your thoughts on this very important issue.

We’ll share our thoughts and answers in blog posts over the next few weeks.  Let the collaboration ensue . . .

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