Romania's orphanages still a bad place for children

The IHT carries an opinions piece from the NYT today on Romania’s orphanages. The gist is that conditions are still deplorable. The problem is that once Communism ended, the big, mega-orphanages were closed down, and the children were distributed to smaller orphanages, who have to battle with pauper’s budgets, which means limited staff and even more limited conditions, all with a growing orphan population.

Meanwhile, Romania’s government is busy putting together task forces and committees. Having grown up in Romania, I am not surprised at the pathetic government response. They can’t be trusted to do much right. There are certain things they’re good for: wasting time talking things to death in Parlament, rampant corruption, and extravagant salaries. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether stuff they put out is good or bad. Sure, certain factors play into it, like the alignment of the rings around Saturn, weather on a particular day, traffic conditions – you know, stuff that matters – but it’s still a crapshoot.

Seems to me the solution is fairly simple: increase community services for disabled children, increase funding for orphanages, and focus on placing children with foster families, not keeping them in orphanages indefinitely.

Of course, I have to smirk when I say that, and believe me, I do it painfully, because the reality is pretty grim – but how many families will really want disabled children? Don’t think I’m cruel when I say it. But in a country where salaries trail woefully behind market prices, and healthy people can barely afford to live, who can take on the added responsibility and cost of caring for a disabled child? Realize that in Romania, most apartment buildings don’t have elevators, and most people live in apartment buildings. How will one get a child in a wheelchair up the stairs? How will one foot the doctors’ bills, the special education, and all of the other things that go along with such a child? Who will want them? My answer will only sadden you. I just don’t know.


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