This week our travels in India are continuing. Our second stop was to the state of Kerala. We chose to come to Kerala because several of our families have been matched with children from this state and we have learned that the court process can vary slightly from the process in most other states. We wanted to come to learn more about the court process, see the children who have been matched with our families and promote the advocacy of children with special needs.
We visited two small private orphanages both run by Catholic nuns. It was clear from our visit to both institutions that these ladies love their jobs! The children at both institutions were happy and played with the nuns and caregivers as you would hope they would. There was love and pride in the nuns and caregivers’ eyes when they helped a child walk or when they were consoling a child. One little boy had a game of pull the nun’s habit (the hat that covers their hair). I was surprised that the nun was not irritated by the game, but she actually tickled him each time he did it! We didn’t see many toys but the children didn’t seem to be lacking. While our American senses were alarmed when several of the older children climbed up the barred windows it was clear this was one reason why their gross motor skills were developing so nicely! The nuns said the kids loved to get up on the window and watch activities outside on the road and in the yard.
One of the orphanages was not only what is known as a “foundling” home (home of children under the age of 6) but also a home for girls from destitute and/or broken families who couldn’t care for the girls. We were sad to learn that most of the girls would never receive the opportunity to return to the families who were unable to care for them, and that for these girls, no other possibility to grow up outside of the orphanage existed. Although the likelihood that their birth families’ situations will change is extremely slight, we learned these will girls remain in care just in case they’re ever able to return to their birth families. Like their caregivers, we hope for a positive outcome. However, since most don’t leave orphanage care, but also can’t be considered for adoption, it’s a hard reality: These girls before us will likely spend their childhoods in an institution. The caregivers do make sure the girls receive education through high school (and college if she is interested and able).They also help to arrange marriages for the girls when they’re grown and remain a resource to them if they need help in the future. Still, we encouraged them to consider adoption for the girls who don’t have families and told them about the preparation that American families must go through to help prepare them to best meet the needs that older children may have. We hope they will consider our urging.
After we left Kerala we flew to New Delhi. When we checked into our hotel there was a wedding taking place with hundreds of guests attending. While the girls who were being cared for by the nuns in Kerala had the nuns as their family, most other orphanages aren’t able to provide much if any help to children leaving the orphanage once they turn 16, 17 or 18. Watching the wedding guests was such a reminder of how wonderful adoption is. Giving a child a family is the gift that keeps giving.
About WACAP’s Vice President of Adoptions, Mary Moo: Mary has had the joy of bringing families and children together through international adoption since 1991. During these years she has coordinated adoptions in several countries including China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Korea, and Romania. Her career in adoption has been supported by immediate and extended family who are also members of the adoption triad.