Why are “Abandoned Children” called Orphans?

“There are not enough words to describe the devastating heartfelt sense of loss a child feels due to parental separation. Quietude is a state of stillness, calmness, and freedom from disturbance and interruption by others—sometimes silence is the best way to display empathy and better understand a child’s perspective.” Judith Land

 “Adoption is a journey of faith, love, and mercy that changes a child’s life forever. Orphaned children aren’t paint-by-number kits where you get to fill in your favorite colors. They are not exotic creatures to be placed on display or exhibited in any way. Allowing them to imitate chimpanzees having fun in a zoo isn’t the best way to learn social skills. Too often, we teach them to walk and talk and for the rest of their lives to be silent and sit down.” Judith Land 

Usually, we think of sad little children without parents due to war, pestilence, accidents, and natural disasters when we think of orphans. The term orphan has broadened in modern usage to include children willfully “abandoned” by living parents. They consciously choose to be permanently and legally separated from their child, regardless of the potential cruel mental and behavioral consequences, collateral effects, and repercussions to others and society their actions may cause. 

Historically, the conditions in many orphanages were horrific. That is why they have largely been phased out in North America and Europe but continue to operate in other regions internationally. In some countries, owning and running an orphanage is profitable, with foreign donations serving as revenue. Many are unlicensed, with very little government oversight, leaving babies and children subject to abuse, organ harvesting, and illegal adoptions. Children with disabilities, including learning disabilities, are twice as likely to have difficulty. Asia holds the most significant number of orphaned children, at 71 million. India is home to 31 million orphans, while Africa harbors 59 million. More than 25,000 children became orphaned in Indonesia due to Covid-19. Native American tribes have very few orphans compared to other cultures. Children without parents are raised by a grandmother or sent to live with close family members.

Children deprived of the protections and benefits parents provide are left with extreme disadvantages. Losing a mother can be emotionally overwhelming. Separation leaves children feeling perpetually insecure and doubtful in themselves, in relationships, and the world. Still, psychologists agree that an institutional home for orphans is no substitute for a house with loving parents, even if the child is adopted.  

Learning how to survive the brutal world and carving an identity are challenging tasks. Modern adoption and foster practices and child welfare programs have replaced orphanages in most cases. Orphaned children age out of the social welfare network between age 18-21 when they suddenly find themselves on their own, responsible for managing their own money and finding a suitable place to live. Transitioning into the real world is particularly difficult for those with physical handicaps and learning disabilities. Regrettably, many of these vulnerable young teenagers face life alone.  

Judith Land



About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
This entry was posted in adopted, adoptee, Adoption, Children, Judith Land, Life, Parenting and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Why are “Abandoned Children” called Orphans?

  1. Pingback: Why are “Abandoned Children” called Orphans? — Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child - Jakhala.com

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