Monday, October 31, 2011


I asked a friend about some statistics in regards to orphans in Ukraine and another friend of mine was collecting some facts about Ukraine for her daughter’s school project.  These are some of the facts they shared with me.

After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic.  Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics.

Area: Ukraine is the largest country in Europe. But it is about the size of Texas.

Terrain: Almost the entire country of Ukraine is a flat plain

Land use:  Ukraine has extremely fertile black-earth soils in the central and southern portions, totaling more than a half of the territory. According to the estimates, arable land is 56%, permanent crops: 2%, meadows and pastures: 12%, forest and woodland: 10%, other: 20%. In 1990 irrigated land was 26,000 sq. km.


State language: Ukrainian. Other languages: Russian, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian.

Former: Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Independence: December 1, 1991 (from Soviet Union).

Varenyky - Stuffed Dumplings Mashed potato filling with onions.
Borscht - Beet base soup with some potatoes, carrots, onions and meat when available.

Orphanages in the Ukraine
Right now, there are estimated to be over 176,000 children living in orphanages in Ukraine. Official numbers vary, and it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number. Reports from 100,000 to 200,000 exist, with 150,000 being the most commonly cited number. There are officially another 100,000 in state care, such as semi-orphanages and other forms of care. Whatever the final number, the reality for these children is bleak.

Around the age of 16, orphans must leave the orphanage. There is no further funding for them to remain in the orphanage and because of overcrowding, it is not possible for them to stay longer, they are without the basic skills to protect or provide for themselves.

The statistics are extremely sad:
60 - 70% of boys leaving the orphanage will become involved in crime
60 - 70% of girls leaving the orphanage will become involved in prostitution
About 3 in 6 of these children will commit suicide before their mid-20’s, 10% to 15% will commit suicide before the age of 18.

There are two types of children who make up the orphan population in Ukraine (but we have these types of orphans in our system as well).

Full orphans:  In this situation, both of the children's parents are dead.  The child is in state care because no other family is available to care for them.

Social orphans:  In this situation, which is more common, one or both of the child's parents are alive, but either unable or unwilling to care for the child.  This can be due to a variety of reasons.  Some of the children in orphanages, perhaps 10%, still have a  living parent who hopes to live with them again one day.  These children live at the orphanage until their parents can find a way to support them.  Sometimes these parents visit children or take them home on weekends, and sometimes this is not the case.

Why so many orphans?
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, in 1991 it achieved independence from the Soviet Union. Although this independence brought joy to many people, it also brought massive instability and economic turmoil. The economy is finally growing again, but millions of people live in poverty across Ukraine.

Unemployment - Many of the factories and industries that employed people during Soviet times have been closed, leaving people without any means of earning money. Although some people have become very wealthy, most are unemployed.

Poverty - With unemployment and the absence of social programs funded by the government comes poverty. Many people struggle to find enough money to buy food, clothing and medicine for their children.

Collapse of Social Programs - The old socialist day-care programs are long gone, and there is no well-established private industry to meet this need.

Alcoholism and drug abuse - As these problems have grown, so have rates of alcohol and drug abuse. Unfortunately, many children are either abandoned in the hospitals by these mothers or are taken by the state when the mother fails to provide adequately for the child.

Poor medical care leading to early death - Some children become full orphans (both parents are dead) because of a lack of access to health care and the effects of poverty on their parents.

Other social problems - As in our own society, other social problems lead to children living in orphanages. These include abuse and neglect. Sometimes, children are taken by the Ukrainian state in order to provide them with a safe environment.
I am writing primarily about Ukraine because that is where we are adopting from, but here are some other statistics that might get your attention.
143,000,000 orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home.  Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
            Every year 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and age out of the system
            Every day 38,493 children age out
Every 2.2 seconds another orphan child ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home.
Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves.
Millions of girls are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans.
How can we as followers of Christ allow this to happen?  Why aren’t we doing something about this?  Aren’t we called to defend those who cannot defend themselves?  Aren’t we commanded to care for the widows and orphans, to be fathers to the fatherless?  Is there something you can do to help children who need help?
Not everybody can adopt children.  Not every home is appropriate for bringing in children who may have had to walk through some very hard places.  But, I believe there are more homes out there who can adopt but aren't because they don't know the severity of the problem.  It simply is not on their radar.  I hope some of this information that I am sharing will get some one's attention enough to start asking if they can.  If they can't, that is fine.  But can they help in another way?  Can you help a family who can and will adopt?  Can you care for their children while they are traveling?  Can you look after their home while they are gone?  Can you help them financially to get there?  The investment in a child's future is worth it!!!  Can you be a strong supporter for them after they get home?  What can you do???


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