We often hear that a mother "abandoned" her child at an orphanage. But actually, we are abandoning mama with our orphanages.
The day my social workers and I found our ten dirty, hungry and homeless boys- I posted a photo of J Mac on Facebook, stating his mother was dead. J Mac told me his mother was dead. He thought I was starting an orphanage. My social workers later taught me that street kids tell foreigners their moms are dead because they are trying to get into orphanages. (It's also the quickest way to get that dolla)
J Mac's mama wasn't dead. She was homeless and too broke to feed him.
RECONSIDER ORPHANAGES: Part II
That day was surely the moment people start an orphanage.
I am not judging. It seems like the right thing to do. Get these kids off the streets, feed them, love them... those poor babies. I get it. It's a moment when you know you have to do something. Those boys expected me to start an orphanage- because that's what happens here. The even lied about their mamas in hopes of meeting criteria to get help.
In June 2014, I rode in a car with two American women that volunteer at well-established, wealthy orphanage. I had just arrived in Haiti, and I will never forget the comment made about the parents of the children in their poshe orphanage:
"The parents come to our door begging us to give them money to feed their families. If they can't get a job and do it themselves, that's not our problem. We're not here to take care of parents."
But... they take the child from the parents and put it up for American adoption.
FACT: Mama's are going to accept ANYTHING we offer when their children are starving.
FACT: Mama's don't understand the detrimental effects of the orphanage system. They think you know what's best for their baby- because you are white and educated.
A mom is completely broke and her son is starving. She comes to you and begs you to help feed her child. You roll your eyes at her but take her son and raise him locked behind a gate his entire life. He never sees his family again.
When all we offer is an orphanage:
1. We teach mom because she is poor, she lacks the skills to be a mother.
2. We teach mom to give up instead of empowering her to provide.
3. Mother suffers the loss of a child. She experiences depression, trauma and apathy.
4. We teach mom she is replaceable, and her connection to her child is worthless
5. Mother believes she has nothing to teach and her children, loses self esteem and self-worth.
6. Mother is left hungry.
Most importantly, the six things listed above breed macro level problems, because culturally Haiti is losing "mama." Can you image a world without your mama?