Are orphanages really so bad?

I also did a lot of thinking about where is the best place for these children? The orphanage I stayed at was amazing. The couple that runs it are two of the most amazing people you will ever meet. They do their best to love all of these children and create a family atmosphere for them to grow up in. They will tell you themselves that their goal is to get the children out of their orphanage and either back with their families or into other homes. They believe children need to be raised by families. But they also have so many stories of children that end up with families that don’t take the time to understand where they come from, or simply adopt a child because they think it will make their life “more complete.”

There was one child that walked four hours back to the orphanage because he hated his adopted family so much. Every night as he fell asleep he heard his “mom” and “dad” arguing about whether they should keep him or not. They were a couple with no children thinking this was the logical next step – get a child – it would make them feel like a more complete family.

I don’t know how you can take a child away from that – they aren’t harming him in any way physically – or in any way you can really prove. But how is being raised in a family like that better than the love that child would get in the community orphanage home?

And how can we stop situations like this from happening? How can we come up with better screening methods so we are sure that this child’s life will actually be BETTER rather than worse once they get placed into a home?

There were two kids that were adopted while I was staying at the orphanage. They went to go live with a family in Michigan. When the couple came to pick them up it was evident they didn’t speak any Spanish. While this isn’t a prerequisite for adoption, you’d think it’d be something they’d work on when in the process of adopting five Mexican children. I understand the children will be learning English – especially since they are moving to the United States – but since they are already being ripped from everything they know and are comfortable with, isn’t it just an added stress that they won’t be able to communicate with anyone, especially their parents? I guess if I was going to adopt a kid from another country I’d try to learn the language – if I expected him or her to be bilingual I’d expect the same of myself…

We think all the time that orphanages are like "holding cells" for children until we get them to better places. But are we really giving them a better future than an orphanage would? What's the best way to care for children who have been abandoned or abused?



I just spent the last week living at an orphanage in Chihuahua, Mexico. It was awesome – and really difficult. I think I am going to write down some of my thoughts on here. I'll mostly ask a lot of questions. I don’t exactly expect answers, just want to do some thinking and processing. Thanks for walking with me…

Here is one of my journal entries from while I was there:

if I actually stop for a moment to think about where I am and what I’m doing I just start weeping. Who could ever give up these kids? Or fuck up their life so much they would be taken away? How could you look into R*****, E*****, M****, or P****** face and not do everything it took to be able to keep them? And who the HELL are L*** parents that could hurt that sweet boy in that way, or V***** parents hat could kiss that sweet face goodbye forever just because of a simple kidney defect? I don’t understand how messed up the world is sometimes. And the suffering of the cross does not make it any more understandable. Why didn’t Christ suffer so these kids would not have to? Why wasn’t his sacrifice enough? Why are there only TWO people that will give everything to make sure these kids are loved and taken care of? And how do I help when it all overwhelms me so much and I can’t even speak the language well enough to tell these kids how beautiful and special and loved they are…..


Total immersion

I am in Chihuahua, Mexico, right now spending six weeks with my beautiful friend Specca. This is to fulfill my LAST requirement in my MA in Cross-Cultural Studies!

While I am here I am taking about 6 hours of language lessons a day - ALL IN SPANISH. No English allowed. I do think this immersion way of learning really is the best way to learn a language, but it is so HARD. I seriously have no idea what is going on - ever. Yesterday I was ready to go into classes as normal but when I arrived we were headed into the main city square for a tour and shopping. Not a big deal - but everyone else knew the plan for the day and were prepared because they speak Spanish...and the rule is always NO INGLES! So literally the entire morning I just walked around in silence. There was one poor man, Doug, that tried to talk to me a couple of times - but no one else really attempted more than a few phrases because they all know how frustrating it is when I don't understand anything. sigh.

It really made me painfully aware of those that come into our county for better opportunities and have no idea how to speak the language. How frustrating. And so many Americans are just jerks that expect them to learn English perfectly or get out. We are not a very hospitable country. And learning a new language (especially by immersion) is hard. A friend of mine also reminded me about some of the Fuller students that I run into who's English is hard to understand, but back in their home country they were leaders in their church and community, or that that are actually excellent communicators and very intelligent people. That's humbling for me to realize, and a good reminder. Because none of these people here would ever believe that I have two Master's degrees...

I think it's good for me to experience being on the other side. I do enjoy learning compassion for others - but at the same time wish i could just learn it by reading a book :)