“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
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.