I have to start out by saying that I admit to having an obvious bias towards the children of Romania. However, having seen this country in all of its supposed grandeur, I will also say that it is hard to ignore the facts. Yes, Romania did recently enter the European Union, but other than becoming one of many countries, its entrance has done little to secure a successful reconstruction.
I can only speak about what I have seen. I mean, seeing is believing, is it not? With that being said, the children I encountered on my short trip to Romania have little hope of venturing outside of their incredibly bleak life.
As I did not spend an extensive period of time in Romania, I cannot speak for the entire country or even the city of Timisoara, but I do know a little about the system and how it works. I have several friends who are from Romania and still reside there, and several friends from home who visit there every year and the news never seems to change.
The European Union is the cause of the setback in adoptions among Romanian children. At this point I too was asking why they would do that, to which the response I got from our friend Iosef (who owns and runs the camp I work for in Iabalcea) was that the EU had no desire to accept a nation whose chief export was children, as it would be if outside adoptions continued to happen on a regular basis. As for the old style communes with massive orphanages, there are not many of those around today, but that does not mean that the orphanage has become obsolete.
The problem stems from the state of the country and how young its freedom is. It was only 18 years ago that the revolt happened in the square in Timisoara. The bullet holes are still in the capital building where Ceausescu was murdered alongside his wife kneeling before thousands of rebels. However, with freedom came the reality of returning to a lifestyle that not many recognized; one without communes and without governmental control. Romanian citizens were now faced with raising their own children, a natural task for most, but in the case of those who spent life on a commune there was not even a starting point to consider.
Welcome to the world of the orphanage. We now have family after family giving their children up to the state in hopes that they will do a better job of raising these youngsters than their parents who were never actually taught how to parent. Now enters the red tape. It’s obviously not legal to adopt a child who actually has parents however absent they might be. I argue that it does more damage to these children to see their parents one month out of every year only to be left again than it would if they had no one at all. At least then someone who wanted to care for them could do it legally.
When I was asked to dive deeper into my experience in Romania I was quickly reminded of the boy I referred to in my first article. Vasy is one of five siblings who currently resides in the same privately-run orphanage. The catch is that Vasy and his four younger siblings are five of a family of 12 children, their parents decided to give up the five youngest. Try interacting with these beautiful kids, so well behaved, always smiling and looking out for one another and then try to wrap your head around giving them up.
It seems crystal clear that without actually seeing the problem first hand there is no way to judge the situation. This is a society of people who are forced to make life choices that the general demographic here at Quinnipiac could not even begin to fathom. With that I encourage everyone to place themselves in a situation that is conducive, witnessing the same dichotomy between our quality of life and anyone else’s; trust me, you will find it and there is a difference.