Sometimes I have dreams about the children we met in Romania. They’re with me, we’re doing life together, everything is normal. But then I wake up. My reality is far from there’s, my life is 3,000 miles from the children with whom I fell in love.
But why are they orphaned? Why are children who are so beautiful and full of life and personality left to live in a sterile institution and cared for by less than empathetic government employees?
It’s hard to summarize, especially in one short blog post, the reason behind the orphan crisis in Romania. But we will try. We will try to help you understand and grasp a bit about this beautiful and wonderful country, the country I initially said, “I could never live here,” to on our last day professing, “I want to move here and live forever!”.
So what are the reasons orphans exist in any country? Does it even matter? Shouldn’t we just try to fix it? As much as I want to just fix it, I believe you properly cannot fix a problem unless you understand at least part of why the problem exists in the first place. This is especially true for orphan care. Any country that has orphans has some unique and specific reasons of why this is true.
So why does Romania have orphans? Some of the reasons are common; poverty, substance abuse, child abuse. You can find these things in most countries. But what is unique to Romania (and a few other countries) is that it is a post communist country. This is most definitely not to blame for all the orphan problems, but it is most assuredly a major contributor.
In 1981 the communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, implemented a program to eliminate all of Romania’s national debt. During this time resources like heat, food, and gas were limited by the government. This lead to widespread poverty and greatly reduced the standard of living in Romania. Simultaneously, Ceausescu was trying to drastically increase Romania’s population. He made it virtually mandatory that women have multiple children. Any form of birth control was banned and women who had not conceived children could expect government scrutiny. Combine this policy with the extreme poverty that was occurring and you have a recipe for an orphan crisis.
Ceausescu fell from power in 1989, but Romania is still recovering from this devastating period in their history.
This era shaped the mindset and mentality of multiple generations. There are kids who spent their life in an institution and never learned how to have healthy relationships, hold a job, or just about anything that you would be taught by a loving family. Then, these kids have kids of their own and the cycle repeats itself. Sadly much of this was brought on by the events in Romania’s history, and in the mean time there are beautiful, Romanian children who are bearing some of the heaviest burdens from this past.
We know this is a very brief and very simplified version of why orphans exist in Romania. Its not comprehensive, and we’re still learning ourselves, but its a start. With this base we can start to examine what is the reality and daily life of a Romanian orphan and how we can most effectively help these amazing children. And believe us, they are amazing. We’ll examine that in our next posts, tomorrow, so stay tuned.