Whereas I typically think of orphanages, in the US or abroad, as sad places where children are not cared for and get little love or attention, Rivers of Hope Orphanage was nicer than most hotels I've seen, let alone childcare centers, even as compared with the wealthiest of neighborhoods in the US. The orphanage, currently about four years old, has facilitated about twenty international adoptions since its inception, mostly to the US and Canada. Although there is local interest from parents and communities that would allow the orphanage to host hundreds of children at a time, they have consciously maintained a smaller size – anywhere from 10-18 children – in order to provide the best care possible to their children. And they really do view the orphans, both during their stays at the orphanage and once in their adoptive homes abroad, as their own. They maintain a 3:1 child-to-caretaker ratio at all times, and the average length of stay for a child is about two years. The costs to care for each child come to about $300 per month, some of which is paid by adoptive parents once they are secured, and part of which comes from much-appreciated donors like you.
We met many adorable babies during our visit on January 9, 2011. Rachel and Willem were kind enough to host us on a Sunday afternoon. Were Haitian adoption criteria not so stringent – parents must be married for a minimum of ten years, be at least thirty-five years old, and have no more than two children – I might have tried to file adoption papers right then and there. A special case, about which all GlobalGiving donors should feel particularly proud, is that of four-year-old Christopher. He has sickle cell anemia and is the oldest of the orphanage’s children. Had it not been for funds provided by GlobalGiving, Christopher would likely not be alive today, as the orphanage has used GlobalGiving donors’ funds to provide him with much-needed medication. He now has pending adoptive parents who will continue to care for him once he leaves Haiti. Although shy and admittedly small for his age, Christopher is absolutely adorable and a very lucky boy to have received such great care while at the Rivers of Hope Orphanage.
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