Letters to the Editor

POVERTY: Orphanage no substitute for family

Re: “Abandoned children, answered prayers” (TNT, 10-25).

As someone who worked in Romanian orphanages for more than four years, I felt deep dismay at this article on Kidstown. An orphanage, even a good one, is always a second-best option. It may be better than a situation of abuse and neglect, but institutional living is no substitute for parents. Yet the journalist shamed parents who wanted to keep their children despite living in impoverished situations.

Romania has suffered from the scourge of child abandonment, and families that want to raise their children should be supported rather than shamed. Organizations around the world have found ways to sponsor poor children and encourage their schooling without removing them from their families.

Engaging with the community, helping with needs that community members name rather than what American visitors see as a problem, making school accessible even for those whose families would send them to work - all of these things can be done without making children live in an institution.

Kidstown may be doing wonderful work in the lives of these children, but if their best solution is tearing families apart because they believe that poor equals bad, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.