By: Michele Jackson
There are anywhere from 143,000,000 to 165,000,000 million orphans living in our world. This number is astonishing but what do these numbers represent? These numbers are developed from attempting to account for children that have one or more parent absent and the child is often living with relatives, foster parents, in orphanages or on the streets. It is unclear as to whether the “social orphan” is included in this number. I would venture to say that if the child is in an institution then they are accounted for; however, the “social orphan” is one that is difficult to quantify and has not been properly protected under the laws of many states or International conventions (Convention on the Rights of the Child, Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption).
The “social orphan” is the most common child in an orphanage. A “social orphan” is a child that has parents living that cannot or will not take care of the child but the parent’s rights to the child are still intact and have not been terminated. Often these parents are working long hours in remote areas, not able to afford/feed their children or have drug/alcohol related issues that are preventing them from parenting. I am consistently asked about adopting specific children living in an orphanage and often I know that the child is likely to be a “social orphan”. A “social orphan” is not adoptable in most situations. The child will likely not be adoptable because of one or more of the following reasons: