That's a question we've gotten quite a lot of since we've told people we're adopting from there. Even now, as we are awaiting our invitation to go over, we still get that question. There are many reasons why we decided to adopt from there, but the simple fact is, God called us to. Both Danelle and I felt that Ukraine was where God wanted us to adopt from. We also realized that, unlike kids in this country who need homes, the statistics for those who grow up as orphans in Ukraine are bleak.
- Ukraine has over 100,000 orphans.
- Only 10% are orphaned due to the death of a parent. The majority are orphaned due to parents alcoholism, abandonment, or imprisonment. Many of the children have experienced abuse at the hands of their parents.
- Every year, 2,000 mothers abandon their babies at maternity hospitals.
- Orphans typically live in state run homes, which may house up to 200 children.
- Children graduate from these orphanages by the age of 16. Most end up on the street.
- 10% commit suicide.
- 60% of the girls end up in prostitution.
- 70% of the boys end up in crime.
- Those who grow up in orphanages are marked as "wards of state" and this will show up on every document about them. When they apply for a job, they are less likely to get one due to the discrimination against hiring "wards of state." In a country with 28% unemployment, the future for these kids are bleak.
- 40% of them will end up either drug addicts or alcoholics
- 50% of them will end up developing HIV or TB (this is the most widespread disease among Ukrainian teens)
- Because they end up on the street, these kids end up victims of slave and sex trafficking.
Ukraine is now encouraging long-term foster care in private homes as an alternative to state-run orphanages. The government is also encouraging Ukrainians to adopt. There is a larger percentage of adoptions in the western region of that country because the socio-economics is better and more from that area are willing to take adopt children into their families. The eastern region has higher unemployment, drug use, alcoholism, prostitution, and broken homes.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers according to the Ukrainian government for the year 2010:
|Adoptions in Ukraine by Foreign Families by Region|
|Total Children||Under 1||1-2 yrs||3-5 yrs||6-10 yrs||11-17 yrs|
But the fact of the matter is, these aren't just statistics, these are children. Kids who want only to be loved and accepted. Children who want only to be adopted into a caring, loving family. It's one thing to read these statistics and think, "How terrible," but it's another to look at one of these children's faces and not want to help.
Being a parent, it's hard for me to not think of my own child when I look at photos of orphans. It's difficult for me to imagine him growing up in an orphanage. Not a day goes by that Benjamin isn't being hugged and kissed and told how much we love him and how we're proud of him. To hear that many of these kids have never been hugged breaks my heart. When I look at the faces of orphans, I can't view them through the lens of them being someone else's problem. As a parent, I see them only as children in need of a loving family.
When I think of Ukrainian orphans, I can only think that among them is my son or daughter.