This picture was taken in France. At the time I thought it was beautiful as it captured a memory that I will always treasure. Somehow the stunning wrought iron carried a profound reminder to a time when I was locked inside the great walls of an orphanage. It was a place to keep insiders, in and outsiders, out. It’s a lot like a gated community where you need a key or code to exit. However an orphanage gate is designed to prevent children from escaping and mothers from getting a glimpse of their kids.
The orphanage system delinks children, disconnecting them from the family they know, and through years of separation, it is very difficult for them to rebuild as adults. There’s no foundation just a structure with clinical care. To the outside observer, the orphanage is a safety net for vulnerable children who have no parents. But in reality, the majority of orphaned children have living family members and a living parent. Many children will not see or know their families for years. These children are isolated making them invisible. It changes their dignity, respect and the way humanity is toward them, if ever. Food and shelter can not make up for a caged facility. These children need to thrive with family, mentors, leaders and spiritual supporters.
Orphaned Teens have the most difficulties when integrating back into society once they leave the system. Foster care has similar problems as the youth become adults they struggle with a huge identity crisis and lack of education due to repeated moving. Family, bonds and love is an integral part of growing up. We know that all children need a family that is willing to hold their hand, build their dreams and give them unconditional love and guidance. Without this, we’ve got alienated children growing into adults and leaving the gates with no direction in life. Institutions are out-dated but they still exist around the world.