Repeated Adoption Destroying a Girl's Trust
The Open Hearts Youth Group run by Dasha, aims to empower children from vulnerable homes as a preventative step to keep them out of orphanages. She already cares for the children whose mums have found help at the Women's Crisis Centre, and is now helping children in her wider community who are gravitating towards the Volkhov site in search of a stable and loving safe space.
Katya is 14 and lives close by. She grew up in an orphanage and remembers her parents from infancy but does not have any communication with them and neither does she want to. Why she was sent to an orphanage, even she does not know.
When Katya was eight she was placed in a ‘resource family’. A resource family’s job is to help an orphan child for six months as they adapt into society (that they’ve had no exposure to) and prepare them for adoption into a permanent family.
After the resource family process was complete, Katya was placed with an adoptive family. Sadly, after a few months, they returned her to the orphanage. Katya was then adopted by several more families, but the result was always the same.
She boomeranged back and forth between the orphanage and potential parents until they found her behaviour too challenging and sent her back.
What is a resource family?
A resource family is a relatively new concept in Russia and is something like our foster care system. Foster care is preferable to an orphanage as it introduces personal relationships for children rather than the isolation and institutionalisation of a state orphanage. Because of the proven long-term damage from orphanages, the UK and many other countries began closing them back in the '60s. Russia however, is still a very long way off with around 1,300 orphan institutions still in operation.
Recently, Galina, from Katya's original resource family, decided to adopt Katya herself. At last, this is something stable but her problems cannot be resolved overnight. There are ongoing conflicts and misunderstandings with Galina.
Understandably, Katya does not trust her, or anyone. “It’s definitely hard for her to trust people. It’s been a very long and difficult process to get her to open up. It seems these are the consequences of her own parents sending her to an orphanage, then others promising to be her parents but sending her back to the orphanage. It is so difficult for her to understand what happened in her past and trust anyone including Galina. It’s going to take time during this transition period and she is looking for consistent support in us.” said Dasha.
Dasha has recently noticed Katya's behaviour is changing for the better. Since coming to group, she has begun trusting Dasha with her personal moments and secrets and outwardly looks forward to the group's planned activities. “She is at a difficult age when you can make lots of mistakes with big consequences depending on influences. I am so glad that she is a regular at our group and has begun trusting me.” - Dasha
Why is Katya struggling so much?
When children from orphanages are deprived of the opportunity to form a healthy attachment with a significant adult, this can lead to attachment disorders, trust issues and difficulties with social relationships.