The Orphans of Romania

The standard of living for Romanian orphans is still problematic despite vast improvements since their conditions were leaked to the west after the fall of communist government 1899.

Under Nicholae Ceausescu, both abortion and contraception were forbidden. Ceausescu believed that population growth would lead to economic growth. Birth rates especially rose during the years of 1967,1968, and 1969.

This increase in the number of births resulted in many children being abandoned in orphanages which were also occupied by people with disabilities and mental illness. Together, these vulnerable groups were subjected to institutionalised neglect, physical and sexual abuse , and drug use to control behaviour.

“A disabled and orphaned Romanian child lies in his bed on November 24, 2009, at the Targu Jiu orphanage, southwestern Romania, after being transfered from Bilteni’s orphanage, which was considered to be the worst place for children under the dictatorship of former Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu.”

The U.S. consul in Bucharest at the time, Virginia Carson Young, noted that many of the children were not actually orphans, but were infact children who had parents unable to afford such large families, with such a situation being created by the mandated natalist requirements.

The parents had placed them in orphanages,often with the intention of picking them up at a older age. There were a high percentage of Roma (Gypsy) children in the orphanages who were often left in an institution until they were old enough t help earn a living, and then parents would claim them again.

“At three weeks old, Izidor was abandoned at a state-run hospital for “unsalvageables” in Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Romania — left behind by his family because one of his legs was deformed. “

The orphanages which were for the disabled children, treated the children very badly in there. Those orphanages lacked both medicines and washing facilities and physical and sexual abuse if children was reported to be common.

Sometimes, the children were often tied to their own beds or dangerously restrained in their own clothing,because the staff had failed to put clothes on them,the children would spend their day naked and be left sitting in their own feces and urine.

They were abused by the nurses and the older children used to beat the younger ones. All children, including girls, had their heads shaved, with made it difficult to differentiate one another.

Physical needs were not met, as many children died of minor illness or injuries such as cataracts or anemia. Many would starve to death. Some children in the orphanages were infected with HIV/AIDS due to the practice of using unsterilised instruments. Also they have to shift themselves from one orphanage to another. It is estimated that about 500,000 children were raised in orphanages.

“Estimates say that under Ceaușescu’s regime, 170,000 babies, children, and teens lived in “child gulags” subsisting on thin gruel, often in filthy, horrific conditions.”

“Deprived of loving care of any kind, those that lived were often under-developed physically and mentally, and found it difficult to form attachments with other people.”

After the Romanian Revolution, the number of street children was very high. Some ran away or were thrown out of orphanages or abusive homes and were often seen begging, inhaling “aurolac” from sniffing bags and roaming around.

Along with fund-raisers, westerners and Europeans adopted many Romanian children after the exploitation of their conditions. However strict led prevented many adoptions and the process of adoption became complex. Because of the neglect the children suffered, many grew up with physical and mental delays.

Even after being adopted, children had problems forming attachments to their new parents. Additionally to physical effects , the legal attributes of being disowned include a loss of legal surname, in addition to first names being assigned as numbers. Young children brought to orphanages typically cannot remember their names and because of this are named by their caretakers.

“Like all the boys and girls who lived in the hospital for “irrecoverables,” Izidor was served nearly inedible, watered-down food at long tables where naked children on benches banged their tin bowls. He grew up in overcrowded rooms where his fellow orphans endlessly rocked, or punched themselves in the face, or shrieked. “

“Out-of-control children were dosed with adult tranquilizers, administered through unsterilized needles, while many who fell ill received transfusions of unscreened blood. Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS ravaged the Romanian orphanages.”

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