The most frequent mistakes and misconceptions about children from orphanages

1. Most of the children in the homes are orphans

 Children orphaned by both parents are as rare as gold dust in the children’s homes. Mostly the children, even though often very sporadically, stay in contact with their biological parents, who are either incapable of or do not want to take care of the children. They are not taught how to behave in their biological family and in most cases there is complete anarchy within these families, nobody has any responsibilities and there are no normal examples of behaviour for the children to look up to. The parents of these children are unable to provide them with the material things that they need or with emotional support. In some cases the parents even terrorise or sexually abuse the children. In the case that the parents are unable to fulfill their parental role and there is no member of the wider family that can take on the role, and neither is there the possibility of foster care, then comes the time for institutional care. Nearly all the children in the homes were removed from their biological families with the decision of the courts.

 2. Children’s homes are boarding facilities where the children live in communal rooms with minimal privacy

 The children’s homes in the Czech Republic are of a family type. What does this mean in practice? The children are divided into “family groups” of up to a maximum of eight members. The family group contains children of both sexes and various ages and the emphasis is on preserving existing sibling groups. Every “small family” lives in a separate unit, often even outside the grounds of the children’s home, which is made up of a communal living area, a kitchen with dining room, provided with appliances and has the same amount of bedrooms as there are children. So you could say it was a flat of 4/5 +1. Some of the small families live in standard flats inbuilt into the main building.

 3. The children in the orphanages do not know what an unpeeled potato or a loaf of bread look like

 This is the most frequent overall misconception. In all children’s homes the children of each family group at least partly share the shopping and cooking. Sometimes the groups only cook at the weekends, sometimes every evening, in some of the homes they have actually closed the common dining rooms. The overwhelming majority of children are jointly involved with the shopping.

Problems occur in the smaller homes in the smaller towns, where, due to the lack of competition, the prices in the local shops are substantially higher than in the shopping centres of the larger towns. In these cases the orphanages often solve this economical problem by doing their shopping in bulk in the city supermarkets.

 4. Most of the children living in the orphanages are Romanies

Even this assumption is not based on the truth. The percentage of Romanies in the homes is actually around 30% of the total number of children. It, of course, varies from region to region, but the majority ethnic group of our country clearly outweighs them.

5. The children in the homes are paupers who will gratefully accept anything

The level of each individual home varies, but generally you could say that, from the material point of view, the children in the homes are not left wanting. The bedrooms are shared mostly by two or up to a maximum of three children and it is not exceptional that older children, especially students, have their own rooms. Most of the children are well, and on the whole, fashionably dressed, though this does not mean that they are wearing the very latest fashions. The children mostly receive clothes that they have not been able to choose themselves, but this also varies greatly from home to home. The location of the orphanage also plays a part and this has an influence on how attractive it is for sponsors. In general it could be said that the standard of living in the children’s homes is on a par, and often even higher, than in ordinary families.

What is certain is that the orphanages are not waiting to be donated old, often ripped clothes and dirty or broken toys, which people frequently bring to the homes with the feeling that they will make the children there happy.

6 .The children in the orphanages are spoilt little “brats” that actually don’t need anything at all

 Even though that from the material side of things the homes are of a very high standard, that does not mean that the children don’t need anything at all. The children continually receive clothing, toys and other equipment according to their needs, but hardly any of them are allowed to choose what they really want for themselves. We often hear something similar to “ We met some children from an orphanage and they were all wearing tracksuits from “Adidas”, they have no need of anything more”. Don’t be fooled! If the children have designer clothes it normally means that a sponsor decided to donate these to a particular children’s home.

Of course the children often have something from a designer label but it does not mean that they either wanted or asked for it, or that it is a colour that they like or that it is actually in the size that they really need. Things are not always as they seem from the outside.

It would be extremely silly to be envious of the good standard of living and material things that these children have, children that must spend their childhoods in these homes. Most of the children would definitely give priority to being able to grow up with their own parents who would take care of them and love them. This is not what they would have chosen for themselves and they have no way to influence the situation.

In fact, the high living standard to which they are used in the children’s homes, can cause them major complications in the future, because they find that when they start their adult lives they are not able to achieve that high standard themselves.

7. The children in the homes get most pleasure from “cuddly toys”

 Cuddly toys are the horror of all children’s homes. Most of the homes have so many of them that they could start selling them. The age of the children arriving in the homes is increasing all the time, so you mustn’t be surprised that when you bring two sacks of cuddly toys to an orphanage where the youngest child is 14, nobody will value your ultraismus. altruism.

A good tip: If you really want to help someone there is no better way than asking them directly what they really need.

Unasked for forms of aid mostly only bring serious disappointment for both sides. The needy are not helped and the donor will be disappointed as he will not receive the thanks he feels he deserves for his help.

 8. It is only women who take care of the children in the homes

 It is true that in the “world of teaching” there are never enough men. But you will always find a few ‘uncles ‘ in each children’s home. In a reasonably high number of the homes men are even holding the position of Director. We know of some orphanages where they even have “ Uncles” in each family unit. Perhaps if we compare the percentage of children growing up in an ordinary family with only a single mother with the statistics in the homes, then the difference in the role of the man in the children’s upbringing doesn’t seem so alarming. This does not mean, of course, that there is not a general lack of men in both the orphanages and in families. It is important for all children to have the possibility to observe and differ the patterns of female and male behaviour.

 9. The children live in the orphanages from the time of their birth until they reach adulthood

There is an absolute minimum of this type of child in the homes. A high percent of infants from the nurseries of the homes can be placed back with their biological families or with a foster family. The age at which children are now arriving at the homes increases year by year. The average time a child spends in an orphanage is 4 years!

You will be surprised to learn that some children come to the orphanages at their own request. This normally concerns children of an older age who have understood that their parents are unable to take care of them properly, provide them with basic necessities for life, not to mention education. These children themselves turn to the social workers and request to be put into care, because they realise that there they will be provided with these foundations and they will be able to continue their studies.

10. The children in the homes stand crying by the fence for waiting for someone to come and get them

We work with 28 different orphanages from every part of the Czech Republic and so far we have never seen a child crying by the fence in any of them! The ‘aunts and uncles’, for their part, mostly take very good care of the children, but this does not mean that they are not suffering psychologically. Most of them desire to be living with a family but in general with their own biological parents, but they are incapable of taking care of them properly and because of this the children are repeatedly suffer rejection and disappointment. Unfortunately, the children often idealise their parents, which is a natural form of self-protection. It is “ simpler” for them to find excuses and different ways to explain the situation they are in, rather than admit to themselves that their own parents do not want them. On the whole older children do not want to become a member of a foster family. They do not want to leave the surroundings that they are already used to, or to lose their friends and they also, at some level, feel that they would hurt their biological parents by doing this.

Generally we can say that the children in the orphanages get on much better than they would in a dysfunctional family, on the basis of which the social workers and the courts made their decisions to place them into care.

 11.The children’s homes are going to close

It is sad that paradoxically this belief damages the children in the homes the most.

If someone finds out, via the media, news of that fact that these homes are due to close, they logically come to the conclusion that there is no point trying to help the children from them. At the present time we have no other alternative to offer the children who are unable to live with their own biological families. There are still not enough people interested in providing foster care. The percentage of children that are returned to the institutes from foster care is very high. It is not surprising. In debates about foster care it would be necessary to make a distinction between the ages of the children, which is unfortunately not happening at the moment. People, on the whole, imagine receiving a tiny, cute, tearful baby who yearns for his mother’s arms. Very few imagine a 15-year-old adolescent who smokes and who has been mentally deprived by the situations that, through no fault of his own, he found himself in. But the children ‘s homes are mostly full of these children. That does not mean, however, that they do not need our help or that they wouldn’t appreciate it!!

The percentage of children that are returned from foster care is very high. It is not surprising. The role of a foster carer is not straightforward and if you are not thoroughly prepared for it. It is not easy to manage.

Anyone who is considering it should very carefully consider all the pros and cons of the situation and try to find out as much information as they can about the problems relating to it. Not even these people are able to protect themselves from possible surprises, disappointments and disillusionment. We do not, however, want to put anyone off foster caring by writing this, in fact just the opposite. It is necessary to do everything possible to make sure that the serious decision of becoming a foster parent to one of these children, who have already had so many negative experiences that would have defeated even the strongest adults, is truly acceptable to both sides.

Why not just admit that both variants could exist side-by-side….children’s homes and foster care, without the supporters of either this or that form of care for the children, who cannot grow up in their own families, creating two enemy camps.