Plight of Handicapped Children

By Dr. Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, Executive Director on Aug 1, 2008

Originally published in the WFCF Newsletter, Vol. 4, No. 2, August 2008

In a world where many children are dealing with poverty and despair, handicapped orphaned children in third world countries are among those who are facing the most difficult and cruel realities of life. According to the United Nations, the average life span of handicapped orphaned children in most poor countries is approximately 13 years. In most poor and underdeveloped countries, children are viewed as an economic asset to their family’s survival, and most parents hope for having boys to contribute to the potential income of the family. Girls are often viewed as liabilities. For many of these families, handicapped children are viewed as even greater liabilities. The situation is compounded and most desperate when a female handicapped child is born into a poor family in a third world country.

…only 40 handicapped children were adopted domestically last year, just 2.9 percent of all domestic adoptions.

Adoption does not provide a viable solution as there is an extremely low percentage of adoptions in most poor countries due to the social stigma attached to the notion of adoption and the relative economic inability of most families who may have interest in adoption. Notably, when considering handicapped children, the percentage of adoptions by local families is very low. In a recent article in the Korean Times (May 15, 2008), only 40 handicapped children were adopted domestically last year, just 2.9 percent of all domestic adoptions. The situation sees little improvement even when considering parents from abroad interested in adopting handicapped children from poor countries.

Regrettably, most handicapped children born in poor countries end up in orphanages. These facilities are not adequate to care for healthy children not to mention children with special needs. There are many of these facilities in third world countries in desperate need of assistance. Organizations such as WFCF aim to provide whatever help it can in order to make the lives of these less fortunate children more comfortable. Please assist WFCF in identifying qualified orphanages for handicapped children in poor countries where funding is needed.