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Not considering adopting but could do with some advice anyway(6 Posts)
Hi everyone. Hope you don't mind me asking a question that I think some of you here might have some views on? I live in Africa. There's an amazing orphanage near us which is really an uplifting place. They are really, really struggling for money but it's clear that they provide a loving environment and give real attention to the babies and small children they care for. We know the place because we donate money and toys whenever we can.
Adoption laws here are complex. I'd consider adopting having been there and having seen the level of need but we'd need to remain living here for several years and that's not possible so instead we do what we can to help. Here comes the question; the orphanage apparently allows the babies to go home with families for weekends. From their perspective, I guess, it is one less mouth to feed and the baby gets so one on one love and attention. I get that this is probably not a good idea from the child protection view point - that you don't know who is taking the child home or what will happen there. I get that this shouldn't be allowed. But there is no concept of that kind of thing here and so it is allowed.
My question (finally) is, child protection issues aside, is this actually going to be good for the child? Yes they get some one on one but surely it must be very confusing and disconcerting for children who already struggle with belonging etc? Or does the benefit of spending time in a home setting out weigh that? I'm asking because if this is actually a good thing to do, then there is nothing I would like more than to help out in this way. But I suspect that it isn't. In which case, I'll stick to donating maize and clothes...
That's a tough one, and I'm just going with my gut here so I might change my mind later or think of something else.
My gut says that it could be a good thing if you were able to make a commitment to 'foster' the same child every weekend on a longer term basis. I think that could have benefits for the child, as they will hopefully be able to form a bond with you and maybe see you as an auntie or something like that, and it would give them a mentor, quasi family member and/or friend etc depending on their age. How old are the children? It might be more helpful for an older child with a better understanding of the arrangement.
I don't think it would be helpful for a child to keep going to different families for a weekend, and I'm not sure it would be very beneficial if it was with one family but only for a couple of weekends. The children certainly need stability, so I think they'll only benefit from something which is happening consistently in a safe environment.
I might be concerned about the other children though - if you were having one child every weekend, would it inspire problems with the other children, jealousy? The child is spending most of the week with the other children, so you wouldn't want problems and friction developing.
Could you go into the orphanage and play with the children as a group at weekends? Or take craft stuff and make things? Maybe even take picnic food?
I think it's lovely that you are considering this, but you are absolutely right to be thinking of the impact on the children.
Thanks both for the replies, I knew someone here would have some thoughts. At this place it is just babies and toddlers they 'graduate' to another place further outside the city when they get a bit bigger.
I can see the logic in doing it if you can provide continuity. I'm not sure how much of that we can offer as we are likely to move on in a few months. I do go there and play with them; they really encourage people to come and interact with the children. They are too little for crafty things and no space for a picnic but I take my own two along (preschoolers) and they like to interact with them.
It's really hard to know what the right thing is to do and to help the most.
Story books and sing songs would be nice for children of that age. You're doing something and you will already have had some effect on them just by visiting with your children.
My ds was adopted from an orphanage like you describe and in his case I can't imagine him getting any benefit from inconsistent intermittent care. Much better to go and give some individual attention in a familiar location.
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