5 myths every “orphan”
wants you to know

Isn’t it better to live in an orphanage than to live in poverty? We debunk the most common orphan care myths in this quick-fire Q&A.

Myth #1:


Kids in orphanages have no parents or family.


A: On average, 80% of children living in orphanages actually have at least a living parent that given the right support could care for themWilliamson, J., and Greenburg, A. (2010). Families, Not Orphanages. Even those without a living biological parent have a grandparent, aunt or uncle, also willing to help. Often, a limitation (such as poverty) makes a parent feel they have no choice but to send their child to an orphanage: the one place assumed to guarantee food, shelter and education. in an effort to do what’s best, the child is separated from their family.

Myth #2 :


It is safer to live in an orphanage than to be with an abusive family.

A: Sadly, the prevalence of abuse and neglect in orphanages is typically higher than in families.Elli Oswald, (2021). Why are we ignoring abuse in orphanages? When a child is in an abusive situation, there are no winners. Child protection agents might place an abused or neglected child in protective residential care, and it can be healthy in the short-term. However, it should never be the permanent solution. If a child cannot safely return home to their family, then adoption is the necessary solution to provide them with a loving family. The way we like to say it is, “reunification when possible, adoption when necessary. But always family.”

Hear from the Source

Marcus Mena is a remarkable, intelligent and resilient young man who grew up in an orphanage in Brazil where he was known not by his name, but by a number: 171. Listen as Marcus shares his story and why he believes family-based care should be a priority in every country around the world.

Myth #3 :


If a child leaves an orphanage, they can’t get an education.


A: Every child has the right to education, and it’s a fundamental part of a healthy child’s development. But staying in an orphanage in order to receive education is not the only option. Children thrive in families, not institutions. Organizations like 1MILLIONHOME help keep children with their families by subsidizing the child’s educational costs, repurposing orphanages to become community day schools, and providing educational support to families.

Myth #4 :


It’s better to live in an orphanage than in poverty.

A: But is it really better to have these needs met, at the cost of your family splitting apart? Eliminating poverty in underdeveloped countries—and our own neighborhoods—should concern every individual. However, we all have different definitions of what poverty actually looks like. Not only that, placing a child in an orphanage because of genuine need isn’t addressing the root causes of their deepest heart needs: connection in family. Tragically, this response pulls the child and family deeper into lack, by impoverishing their relational and mental healthWilliamson, J., and Greenburg, A. (2010). Families, Not Orphanages.

Myth #5 :


These problems are impossible to solve.


A: Although family separation, poverty, lack of education, and abuse are not fixed overnight, they have solutions that have been developed and proven successful. Dozens of orphanages have been transformed into family reunification centers, with social workers working closely with families to support and strengthen them in their community. Because supporting a child in a home goes ten times further than supporting them in an institution, funding goes to more children than ever before.

For the last 20 years, I’ve spent so much of my time getting kids in orphanages. Knowing now that 80% of these kids have parents, the best thing we can do for them is reunify them with family.

Francis Chan

Author & Pastor | crazy love