Thursday, April 5, 2007

Africa's Orphans

You've probably heard about the huge orphan crisis in Africa, mostly because of Aids. Worldwide there are 15 million orphans because of AIDS, 12.1 of those are in Africa. While AIDS is a huge problem all over the continent the biggest problem is in South Africa and Western Africa. Nigeria has 1.8 million orphans, South Africa has 1.1 million AIDS orphans. Liberia has 36,000 orphans from AIDS. Many of their 250,000 orphans is the result of poverty and the civil war. By 2010 Sub-Saharan Africa (includes 38 countries) is expected to have 18 million orphans just from AIDS.

In some African languages there is no word for adoption. It is a new concept. Although there is an increase of adoption by families in some African nations, such as South Africa and Kenya, there are still not enough adoptive families in these countries to take in all the AIDS orphans. It is also not uncommon to see adoptive families in these countries trying to pass off adoptive children as their biological children. They often will not tell their children that they are adopted. This is due mostly to the stigma the families and adopted child would face from other family members and community. There are many families in other countries that are interested in adopting AIDS orphans from Africa. This should only be an option when there are no adoptive families within a child’s birth country. Unfortunately, in many African nations international adoption is not allowed. There is also a fear in many African nations toward international adoption. It is hard for many people to understand why those in others countries would want to adopt African orphans. There are many misconceptions driven by fear surrounding international adoption. There is fear that internationally adopted children will be used as slaves, body part donors or worse.

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