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I'm looking for my mummy (article about orphan shelter for infants "Sunny" ("Solnishko") in Zaporozhye)

November 8, 2006, 0:00 5882 Author: Victoria Kirilenko, Zaporozhye (translated for deti.zp.ua by Sergey Razumov) "Ostrov svobodi", Zaporozhye's newspaper

Why are infants so often left in shelters?

And how a woman, who has no hope to have her own child, can become a mother?

How to adopt a Ukrainian child from abroad?

What kind of financing is there for infant orphanages?

These are the main topics of our conversation with the head physician of the infant orphan shelter of Zaporoje "Sunny" Galina GALKINA.

In Ukraine there are 48 orphan shelters for infants, where about 6000 infants of 3-4 years old are kept. Every year 5 000 infants are brought here; all children, left by parents, spend first years of their lives in infant orphanages, afterwards they get assignment to shelters for older children.

In the region of Zaporozhye there is only one shelter for infants - "Sunny": a two-storeyed building, situated in Kosmichesky microdistrict, gives shelter to 305 kids. We spoke with the head physician of "Sunny" Galina Galkina; that what she told us:

- In Germany and France the problem of orphan children has being solved in several phases. First, they analyzed the reasons of this phenomenon, then, they developed some legislative arrangements, which included the system of benefits for socially unprotected young families, and benefits for foster (adopting) families. That's - what is to be done in our coutry.

- And how do children get into infant orphanage?

- Mostly they get to orphanages from hospitals, after inspection in child therapeutic departments.

- And What kind of children come to you?

- All those, who were left without parents care: who were left in maternity hospitals, those, who were refused by live parents, children whose parents lost parental rights. We also have children, whose parents are put into jail, children, whose parents are dead or very sick, and are having long term treatment in diverse hospitals. There are also some invalid kids in "Sunny".

- Our Government has implemented one-time paid financial help of 8.5 thousand grivnas, does it prevent from leaving their children?

- That financial help has solved no problem at all: children were and are still left often. During two weeks after it was announced about that new benefit, some mothers picked up their children from hospitals, and afterwards, left them again.

- Can orphan shelters take children in just for a short period of time?

- That was a systematic practice up to 2003. We had total income of 75 kids a year. Most people left their children because of poverty, sickness, or other problems within the family. Some parents worked hard or studied, using the orphanage as a temporary shelter for their children: bringing them to orphanage for a week, and taking them back for a weak-end. That practice was considered quite acceptable, and those were quite normal mothers, they even came to feed their infants. From that number of 75 infants mothers took back 45-50 ones. Since 2004 it was forbidden to use the orphanage as a temporary shelter for children. But in some way, it might solve the problem of unparented kids. Now we also give shelter to some invalid kids.

- What must be done, to adopt a child?

- Go to a local custodial counsel. When the documents of future parents are ready, they come with a warrant to pick up a child. By the way, one of our colleagues is so close tied with her soul to one of our girls, that she has prepared prepares documents for adoption. It's great, when members of the family are strange in blood but close in spirit.

- Why are there so few foster families and shelters for orphans of family type in our country?

- All forms of kids lives arrangement are lawful: orphan shelters of family type, foster families, government orphanages. It's of great importance for us to know, who of our kids are sick with hydrocephalus or motionless. What kind of a foster family could pick them up? When the child is four, he or she would be moved to the therapeutic orphanage, where the doctors would always be near. Here, in "Sunny", there are 80 invalid kids. If new parents appear, the kids they often put sick children to hospitals and make arrangements for operations. I know that many operations are paid by charitable funds: American Government pays for such kids. Family also receives some material aid for an adopted child.

- Tell us, please, how much are Ukrainians paid for one adopted child?

- In Ukraine the foster family must receive not less than one 'cost of living' that is 360 grivnas for one adopted child . But often families can not receive this money. The experiment with foster families in our region began 10 years ago. The kids for this experiment were taken from me, thus, I know what kind of a hell forced those women through. Before encouraging for a foster family, you have to explain, what difficulties lie ahead.

- How many kids get a new family per year?

- I guess, each year about hundred kids change their surnames. Usually Ukrainians take no more, than one child per family, and mostly because they cannot have their own children. But sometimes it also happens, that to five own kids people add three adopted ones.

- Where are kids mostly departed?

- From "Sunny" kids are taken to US, Israel, Holland, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada, Peru.

- What kind of problems can appear with a child in a new family? After all, we know nothing about his or her parents.

- I can't deny, that sometimes occur the families, which give to a child everything, and still - that is not enough. Some orphanage kids really have disposition towards vagrancy. Not long ago, I spoke with a woman, and she told me her story: she took a little boy, grew him up, gave him good education. The boy has become a lawyer, but he is still inclined to vagrancy. Sometimes he leaves home for weeks, and even cannot describe a reason. Talking about risks connected with adopting: the problems do exist.

- Does it necessary to tell the child, that he is an adopted-one, and when is it the right rime for this?

- That's up to parents. In America there is no secrecy of adoption, American psychologists do not advise to keep it in secret. Adopting parents gather and preserve all the information about real parents of a child: all the documents and photos, in order to give it to a kid in a right time. The child has two citizenships, and has a right to choose any, when attains his majority.

As psychologists say, for the orphanage's inmates it is typical narrowness, poorness of motivation, permanent dependence upon the behavior of the adult person. In the conflict situation they are practically unable to estimate the situation soberly, unable to control their mood and behavior, which leads to aggressiveness. Making an attempt of self-assertion, the orphanage's inmate demonstrates his independence by rules refusing and denying moral limits.

- How can the state of an orphan child be fixed to better?

- Actually, there are three ways.

The First one is making a foster family, when the child is not adopted, but still, he lives within it for a while. For keeping of a child government pays 360 grivnas every month . This money includes food, clothes, books, pencils, etc.

The Second one is organizing of a family-type shelter.

And the Third one is a state orphanage. In this case there will be no need to give some money from a budget (as it takes place in first two cases), but in fact, keeping of one inmate in state orphanage is much higher, then in a foster or in a family-type shelter family. All state orphanages receive money from a region budget.

Conclusion from the editors.

With all the respect to Galina Galkina, we should add, that the real state of affairs quite differs from the one, mentioned above. Within former priorities and existing financial flows, orphans will grow up mostly in state orphanages. These institutions will always be overfilled and the number of homeless children will grow up. To the solution of this problem government will have to involve Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Family and Youth, Ministry of Internal Affairs. Actually, all these departments are partly involved nowadays, but there can be no efficiency of their work within existing state of things, when all their attempts are separated one from another.

Orphans must not sleep in a wrecking building.

In orphanage #3 of Zaporozhye live children with non-typical for a child former life. Many were picked up directly from city streets and saw ABC for the first time, when they were 12. Not so long ago on the run there were 50 children, now this number is lower. Most of the day kids spend in a sleeping building, which is filled with cracks, and the roof of which is full of holes. The year budget of this orphanage is about 3.000.000 grivnas, which is enough only for food for children and surface-repair for building. The executor of headmaster's duties Vicktor Taranenco said, that the need of money for the general-construction repair is about 200.000 grivnas, while every day for one inmate the institution spends 20 grivnas. In the orphan's menu there are bananas, oranges and different juices, still kids are far away from "domestic care". In addition to school lessons inmates desire to go in for sport, but they don't have a place for it. The only thing, that was bought for them is some bicycles.

This orphanage #3 begins the charity action for everyone, who desires to help the orphans with some money. Special urns will be placed in all large stores of Zaporoje and in supermarkets.

You can get additional information by the phone # 35-21-09, 35-14-53

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