Tuesday we made our first trip to the orphanage. I literally had to fight back the tears as we first walked through for a tour, and honestly I can’t even tell you why. There are 21 kids ranging from eight months all the way up to fifteen years of age. There is a family of six children (one year to thirteen) whose parents are on drugs and keep relapsing. This isn’t their first time here. There is a good chance they won’t be going back home. Thankfully they have a relative that is considering taking them. There is a 13 year old whose family was killed in a car accident and no relatives are willing to take him. There is a set of siblings (one boy, one girl) who suffered sexual abuse and will not be returned to their parents. Then there is a little boy who is four years old. When he came to the orphanage, he was a year old, but only weighed 3-4 pounds. That is the size of a preemie baby and he was one years old. He has some mental delays (I really don’t know the details), but he is the sweetest little guy. He fell the other day and when Mike went to pick him up, he just threw his arms around him and laid his head on his shoulder.
The purpose of the orphanage is to be more of a foster home. The ultimate goal is to give the families counseling and reunite them. In cases of sexual abuse, the children will not be returned. For some of the kids, if they aren’t able to go back to their parents, the hope is that relatives will take them in. If this doesn’t occur, then they are finally deemed orphans. At this point, they can be adopted out. It is the first preference that they would stay in Ecuador or the surrounding country. If this falls through, then they are sometimes put up for international adoption. In the case of siblings, they are preferably adopted out together. So for the group of six, this could be a difficult request. If they cannot be adopted out, they stay at the orphanage till they are 17 (this is termed “aging out”).
I was doing some reading on Ecuadorian adoption laws at the following websites:
They are similar to the ones in the States. In fact, if you cannot adopt within the U.S., you are likely not going to be able to adopt here. I believe there is a fee of $720 to file the paperwork, along with $85 for biometric screening (per adult adopting).
We most recently took a trip to the beach. It was interesting to see the personalities of the kids come out! Some of you would’ve had a heart attack at our mode of transportation. We piled everyone into the back of a farm-like truck that had boarded sides and a wooden bench in the back. All the babies and toddlers had an adult holding on to them. Of course my kids thought this was the coolest thing ever, since in the States this would never happen!