Group Homes and Orphanages?

Updated on May 24, 2010
R.S. asks from Portsmouth, VA
10 answers

Having a family of my own has made me wonder about orphaned children and kids in poor families. I wonder, have any of you been to a child group home or orphanage? Is it always bad and is it really, really bad? How do we help? And what is an adoption process like? All I've heard and read is group homes are awful places where the employees don't care about the kids, all the toys and books are used and worn, and the kids bully one another. It also scares me to think that there could be pedophiles and abusers there. Needless to say, this is saddening and frustrating. Maybe if each every good family in the world adopted at least one orphaned child, things would be different? But things aren't that simple. I certainly have enough on me raising one child, not to mention parents that will need my help when they are older. Any thoughts?

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answers from San Francisco on

Prevention is the best solution. Support birth control and the right to choose. A major study was conducted to find out what, if anything, helped to lower the crime rate. They found only one thing: abortions. People who don't want to have children do not make good parents.

Having said all that, bravo to all of you who support these parentless children. Giving love and support in any way possible makes things a little bit better.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

I'm amazed at some of the answers you've gotten. As a parent of one biological son (16 months) and hoping to adopt a child from India (my husband is Indian) I have done quite a bit of research on this topic. One of the best resources I have found is a book entitled, "You Can Adopt" by Susan Caughman and Isolde Motley. There is also a magazine, "Adoptive Families" that posts many articles and resources online.

The quickest, easiest (and cheapest) way to adopt is out of the foster care system. I have two friends who have domestically adopted babies in the US by having birthmothers choose them. The average length of time from starting the paperwork to bringing home the baby was about a year. The average time for overseas adoptions are 1-3 years. The US laws now guarantee the rights of the adoptive parents so birthparents coming and taking away adopted children is really a thing of the past. It does vary state-to-state, but more and more states are figuring it out and enacting well-defined laws. I know six families that have chosen to adopt children from Africa and Asia, as well. While sometimes more expensive, the fees vary depending on the country, many people choose to adopt internationally.

In the US, most children are put into the foster care system (not group homes or orphanages). Overseas, there are more orphanages. The situation in each orphanage depends on who runs it. In the book, they said the children with the least issues surrounding attachment and adoption are either under 1 year or over 3-4 years. Under a year they aren't too traumatized and can adjust fairly easily. Over 3-4 years, they are better able to understand what's happening with all the changes and adjust as well.

Having said all that, many people know "someone" with a horror story of fostering or adopting children. This happens 1-2% of the time. The vast majority of families who adopt are happy and well-adjusted. Here are some quick facts refuting the top 10 myths about adoption (from the book mentioned above):
1) Of the 100,000 of so adoptions that take place in the US, 25,000 or so are American newborns.
2) The vast majority of international adoptees are healthy and happy children.
3) Most of the families (readers of Adoptive Families magazine) brought their children home within 2 years of submitting their paperwork. For many, the process takes less than a year!
4) The average cost of adoption, before grants and reimbursements, is about the same as the price of a midsized car. It is possible to complete an adoption for a few hundred dollars.
5) Most birth mothers are women in their twenties making a well-thought-out choice to give their child a better life than they themselves can provide.
6) Once an adoption has been finalized in court, the child is as much yours as if you had given birth.
7) Recent long-term studies of adoptees in America show that they are no different in self-esteem and attachment to family from children raised by their biological parents.
8) After thirty years of working with adoptive families, we can promise you that most adoptions end in joy, triumph, and love.

Having said all that, you don't have to adopt. You can become a foster mother or donate clothes and baby/toddler items to the foster care system to help out. Thanks for asking the question. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Go online and take a look at the WA website or the county in which you live in. Here the county adopted the program from the state, so adoptions are handled by the counties.

Here in Southern NV, children are placed in child haven, a place were there are cottages depending on the age. They may be fostered out to a family or group home. Some families only intend on fostering, others are interested in adopting. Each case is different, depending how far along they are in court. Some children are removed until the parent(s) can get it together and can prove to the courts they have done so. Sometimes they never do and the children are then adoptable. Often the children have siblings, so it is not just one child, it is that child and their siblings because in our county they cannot be separated from a sibling.

If you are unable to adopt, there are other things you can do to help. There is a program again in our county called Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Basically they are mentors/big brother (sister) type guardians to check on the children who are in foster care to be sure they are being treated/cared for properly and that they are making it to their doctor appointments when necessary. Someone they can share their problems with if they are mistreated or treated unfairly while in foster care.

As well, they can use clothes. No one says, pack your bags, you're going to stay awhile. The kids come wearing the clothes on their backs. Budgets are tight and clothes are accepted by donation. Same goes for toys.

If your county is out of kids, come on over to our county, we have plenty.

You are wonderful for asking!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

My daughter has 6 children, 11, 9, 6, 3, 2, 1. the 11 year old is in foster care and they are trying to find suitable adoption for him. The 9 year old lives with my ex, the 6 yr. old and 3 year old live with me, and the 2 youngest are being adopted by their foster family who is also adopting another child in their home.

Orphanages are really a thing of the past in our country. They do have group homes for kids that are going to age out in the system. They have a schedule they go by and they help the kids learn skills to live on their own, have a job, go to school, etc.... There are orphanages in other countries still but they seem to be in war torn countries or countries suffering from devastation.

To be a foster parent you can call the local child services about the process and classes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I wrote a research paper on infants and toddlers in orphanages not too long ago. To give you an idea of the horrible situations....right now in the United States there are many thousands of infants and toddlers that are tethered to their cribs because there are not enough public resources to give them adequate care. A majority of these children have been in foster care from birth and suffer from failure to thrive from not being able to make an attachment with another human being. Researching this topic made me to decide to become a foster parent for high risk infants when I finish graduate school. It is much easier to become a foster parent than to adopt, although adopting is a selfless gift if you are able to do so.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You could contact your local Child Services Dept. they would be able to provide information on any children's homes, support foundations, etc. For helping, you could consider becoming a foster parent.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

This is simply a wonderful reminder about the long term needs in our society.
World wide only one (1) percent of all children who need to be adopted are.

Adoption processes vary but they do a few home visits. In Oregon I was told they want you to own your own home if you are a single parent adopting. If you are married the rules are different.
If you decide to adopt and your children turn out to be compatible it will ease your burden of always entertaining your single child.



answers from New York on

i think the majority of people looking to adopt overseas is because it is very difficult to adopt in this country. takes years and years, patience, while allowing kids to fall through the cracks.
i have always wanted to adopt. ii don't think i could be a foster mom because it would be heartbreaking for me to let the child go with moment's notice, or knowing the history of the child, and then having to let them go into the environment he/she came from first. so i have done nothing which is just as bad as the adoption process.



answers from Seattle on

Being in a poor family that loves each other is OK. People around the world live with far less than we do.

Foster care and orphanages generally do their best in seeing that children are cared for properly.

Seeing about 4 families that adopted children, the adoption process is so uncertain, painful, and expensive, that it's amazing as many families adopt as they do. Things happen like, the child that almost got adopted disappeared. My friend ended up adopting another child. I had a friend that adopted from Vietnam that happened to. We've all seen the news of a couple having adopted a child for 2 years, the original parents come back to take the child back. In fact, that is why people don't adopt children in the United States any more. They are afraid of losing the child after a couple of years. The only people who win this fight are the lawyers. This is AWFUL, Heart-wrenching. It's as if the child is a toy that people fight over, instead of a human being. The interests of the child should be placed over the interests of relatives, parents that have been abusive, but that's not the case. There are several countries overseas that have had adoptions banned due to abuses by people overseeing the system - children were being handed out for adoption that still had parents who wanted that child, children were being sold. Those countries include Romania and Guatemala.

This is a travesty of justice that the weakest most needy among us suffer the most due to so much corruption around the world. It costs on average $10,000 - $25,000 to adopt a child. That puts it out of reach of most couples.

Something needs to be done with the system around the world. Even the foster care system in the US is screwed up where teenagers when they turn 18 are turned on to the streets because now the system is done with them. There is the Cocoon House in Everett that helps them.

If adoption was easier and not so expensive, I think that we would see more people adopting. I had a friend who attempted foster care. The little boy that she ended up taking care of - grandmother, who was a bad parent, accused my friend of something she would never do, because she was angry that she no longer had custody of the boy, and there was so much back and forth because of this incident - the accusations happened twice, both times requiring that DHSH do extensive investigations with the boy taken away from my friend for 6 months at a time, that she finally gave the boy back into the foster care system and dropped out. Why they didn't stop to think that a) the grandmother had no way of knowing anything and b) she had a vested interest in seeing this fail. My friend didn't have the emotional stamina to keep the boy and fight the grandmother, and the system that supports the bad guys instead of the good guys. She was planning eventually on adopting the boy. Now the system lost two good parents, and the boy lost the chance at a decent normal life. As far as I know he is back in foster care with someone else, or back with the grandmother who could hardly care for him.

There has GOT to be a better way for the whole system. I think the idea of allowing the birth parents to visit the adopted child is a mixed blessing. However, it does open up the possibility of future custody battles.

In the old days, a child was adopted and the parents didn't know who was the person putting up that child for adoption. Everyone went on with their lives the children were raised, and people put the child's welfare above their own. Now everyone is out for themselves. Yes, the mother was probably wondering what happened to the child that she gave up, but it was an honorable sacrifice. I think that system was better than what we have now. At least the child knew where they would be spending the night the next day, or year, or whatever!



answers from Washington DC on

Thank you for posting this! I've always wondered the same things! I don't have any advice, but I'm anxious to read your responses.... :)

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