How did this crisis start?
In 1966, one year after Nicolae Ceaușescu became head of Romania’s Communist Party, contraception and abortion were outlawed for women under 40 with less than four children. Women also had to endure regular examines to prove they had not had abortions. This law created double digit birth rates in just one year. Over the coming years, restrictions on the use of contraception became even more stringent as Ceaușescu attempted to over populate and grow the country’s manufacturing industries in an attempt to make Romania a world powered nation like its county to the north “ Russia”.
Romanian women were incentivized into having more and more children. The mentality was if the family is unable to care for the large number of children they were encouraged to take them to orphanages where the state would take care of them. In the 1980s, Ceaușescu’s attempted to pay down Romania’s national debt, and an introduction of stringent food rationing was introduced. Desperate parents figured that at least if their children were in orphanages, they would have food. During this ration period, which lasted for nearly ten years, the orphanage population swelled to over 150,000 children living in state-run orphanages. Today there are an estimated 60,000 children still cared for by the Romanian government.
Where do these children come from?
Romanian social workers cite poverty as the main factor for child abandonment.
How are they cared for?
Romania has made great improvements over the years, but it is clear that there is still a long, long way to go. Although most orphanages have a decreased number of children in care and are better staffed, they are still impersonal places that leave children without the skills needed to survive as independent adults. Little is offered in the way of life skills training, counselling, or therapy. Despite the caring attitudes of the vast majority of child care workers, there are still stories of abuse, and support from the state ceases the moment an abandoned child leaves full-time education, leaving many vulnerable young adults facing an uncertain future in a country where a large number of the population are living in or near the poverty level.
Romania's children—like our own children—need all the love and help we can give.
It's hard to change the world, but what if you could make a difference in the life of a single child? Our Sponsor A Child program allows you to do just that. Find out more.
One of the best reasons to join us on a work team trip is that you get to meet, work, play with, and see the smiles of these amazing children in person! Once you do ... your life will be changed. Find out more.
Once children in orphanages reach the age of 18—if they are no longer in school—they must leave the institutions for life on their own. Hearts Across Romania has always had concerns about these children, many of whom are not prepared for independent living and lack the resources or skills to make it in the real world. Read more.