The Effects of Dehumanized Institutionalization on Children

Most of us recall with horror the news about the children found languishing in state-run kennels (known as “orphanages”) when the CeauÃ?Â??Ã?Â?Ã?¸escu regime was overthrown. Many were liberated and adopted by families in other countries. The BBC has been running a series on how they have fared. Some have adapted and thrived. Others have had great difficulty, especially in forming lasting attachments, as they were denied love and affection in the institution:

One British woman, who did not want to be identified, said that looking after her two adopted Romanian children was much more difficult than she had anticipated.

The elder child was 10 when she came to the UK, and “it was like having a 10-year-old one-year-old,” she said. “She had no knowledge of how to wash or eat, and she’d run in front of cars all the time.”

“Many of these children also have problems forming attachments. I’ve heard of people whose adopted children just walked out of the house as soon as they turned 18, and have never been in touch again,” she said.

An remarkable contrast is provided by a study of an institution that seems to have worked quite well: Richard McKenzie’s book The Home: A Memoir of Growing Up in an Orphanage.