So many people have asked Rob and I why we chose international adoption and in particular, why did we choose Bulgaria. One of the answers can be found in the text of this sobering news article from the Sofia news agency's website, novinite.com.
Bulgarian Orphanages Shockingly Claim 240 Lives in 10 Years
Society | September 20, 2010, Monday
Malnutrition, cold, and deplorable living conditions have claimed the lives of 236 Bulgarian orphans in the past 10 years.
This shocking figure has been revealed through an inspection of the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committed, a NGO, whose results were presented on Monday.
In some of the cases, the cause of the death is unknown. Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev said his institution has started the investigation of 166 of the deaths.
According to the inspection results, most of the orphans died as a result of systematic malnutrition, pneumonia, and other diseases. Most of the kids died in the orphanages rather than in hospitals, which is taken to show that they did not receive the proper medical treatment.
"I cannot fathom how we allowed the deaths of 236 Bulgarian citizens from this most vulnerable group in the last ten years. In 80% of the cases nobody even cared to notify the police or the prosecutor's office so that the deaths can be investigated," Vlechev declared.
The inspection has discovered that orphans were tied or were given sedatives in order to be controlled more easily in at least 8 of the orphanages.
"We must take urgent measures to make sure there are no more physical injuries or chemical and physical immobilizing of the orphans," said lawyer Aneta Genova from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.
The State Agency for Child Protection has pointed out that its role is to monitor the situation together with the prosecutors while it is up to the local authorities and the respective mayors to make sure that the kids in the orphanages are healthy and well fed.
In addition to the 166 deaths, the prosecutors will be investigating 27 cases of physical and sexual violence. They vowed to inspect the existing orphanages again next year.
The Bulgarian government has recently announced a program to shut down all orphanages and find care and accommodation for orphans with host families or with social institutions of a new type that are located in the cities rather than in faraway and almost uninhabited villages.