Children's Charity Warns that Elton John's Plans to Adopt from Ukraine Could Harm Ukrainian Children
EveryChild, the international children's charity, is concerned to learn that Elton John is planning to adopt a child from an orphanage in Ukraine. Whilst Elton John should be applauded for helping to raise awareness of the plight of children affected by HIV in Ukraine, the answer to Ukraine's deepening HIV and Aids crisis does not lie in international adoption. More children may be abandoned in children's homes as a result of another high-profile, celebrity adoption.
95% of the children in Ukraine's institutions are not orphans. Children born to HIV+ mothers face particular discrimination. They are separated from their mothers and often end up in children's homes and institutions segregated from children not affected by HIV.
More emphasis needs to be placed on encouraging the Ukrainian government to help keep families together rather than placing children affected by HIV in outdated children's homes.
Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of EveryChild, says:
"High profile adoption stories involving celebrities send out the wrong message. Research conducted in Ukraine by Liverpool University found that vulnerable mothers were encouraged by news of wealthy foreigners adopting from children's homes to place their own children in care in the hope that they would get a better life.
Most children placed in children's homes are not adopted internationally; the majority face a bleak future. Children who grow up in a children's home are much more likely to end up in prison, involved with drugs and prostitution and go on to abandon their own children.
The actions of celebrities like Madonna, and now possibly Elton John, could be actually increasing the number of children in children's homes in countries like Ukraine."
The Ukraine government has recently introduced new legislation that requires authorities to explore all possible options like extended family and domestic adoption before a child is placed in a children's home. EveryChild has also helped to introduce emergency fostering services to Ukraine so babies do not have to enter the institutional care system at all - even in the small number of cases that they are genuine orphans. These new initiatives need the support of influential figures like Elton John to ensure that children affected by HIV and AIDS do not end up in the country's outdated institutional care system.
EveryChild is an international development charity working in over 15 countries around the world including Ukraine. EveryChild works with children who are, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their family or community. Separated children suffer great adversity. Forced to cope with a frightening adult world alone, they are particularly susceptible to violence and exploitation.