The Thoughts Of An Older Child In An Orphanage


The realities of working in international adoption aren’t always pretty, especially for older children waiting for families. While thinking about this one day, this is how I imagined an older child would feel.

I can’t remember a time when I did not live here. I can’t remember my mom or dad. They left me, but I can’t remember that either. I don’t know why. No one seems to know why. Why did my parents abandon me? Was there something wrong with me?

The orphanage and the workers are all the grownups I have ever known. Sometimes other grownups come to visit us. Sometimes social workers come and take photos of us, especially the babies. Sometimes the grownups come and take a child away to a new family. They usually take the babies; I wonder why they are chosen to have a family and I am not. Is there something wrong with me?

We have other visitors who look at us with sadness in their eyes. Sometimes they give me a hug. Sometimes they bring toys and treats. Some bring bottles and clothes for the babies. Most of the clothes they bring don’t fit me and my friends. We are already in school and need clothes too. We love to play with trucks and soccer balls, but there aren’t enough here for everybody. The grownups stay for just a little while and then leave and a new group of adults come to visit. Sometimes they are here to help and volunteer. But none of them take me home to a new family. What is wrong with me?

The babies don’t stay very long. Families seem to want the really young babies. Sometimes, my friends leave never to come back. I am told they have a new family and will go on a plane to the United States. I looked on the map at school, the US is a faraway place. Why do they get to leave? Why do they get a new family and I don’t? Is there something wrong with me?

Sometimes I am hungry and wish I had something to eat. Sometimes I am so hot I cannot play and just sit on the hard floor to rest. At night I can’t sleep because the floor is too hard and the bugs are bothering me. Why can’t I go to a house with a new family and have a bed? Is there something wrong with me?

Sometimes I need new clothes because mine are old, dirty and torn. I got really cool tennis shoes last summer that a group of visitors gave me. But they are old now and have a hole in the side. They are really getting too small for my feet. But I love wearing them, they are my only shoes. I wish someone would bring me some new cool looking tennis shoes. Maybe one of the new visitors will bring them. This makes me excited.

Sometimes I am hungry. When I am hungry I don’t do well at school. When my stomach is begging for food I can’t concentrate and learn. I really like school. I try to learn and get smart. If I am smart, maybe a family will want me and think nothing is wrong with me.

I asked the social worker yesterday, when she will find me a family. I asked if there is something wrong with me. She said there is nothing wrong with me and she will try to find me a family. I pray every night at bedtime and ask God to please bring me my new family.

I am an older child, a child repeatedly passed over, still living in an orphanage and wondering why.

Photo Credit: Alex

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptionsā€™ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.