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Opinion 1 Feb 05: Why not to adopt tsunami orphans

In the wake of the Asian Tsunami disaster, we take a look at why sponsoring a child is often the best solution for those orphaned by natural disasters.

When you see a child who has lost their family on the news, the natural instinct is to want to go and pick them up and cherish them. You should not feel guilty about this instinct, it is part of being human. However before talking to anyone about trying to adopt a tsunami child, you should stop and think:

1) Is this the best solution for the child? A child who has started growing up in a community and lost parents still has some inner security from knowing their environment, knowing other adults, familiar weather, the sound of local language or accents and their surrounding. You may feel you can offer the most caring environment in the world, but it may not be the one where the child feels most secure.

2) Is this cost effective? Caring for children locally long term is much cheaper than uprooting them and bringing them over for adoption. SOS Children has a model for orphans based on family groups of about ten children with a well-trained mother, who can manage the children's stress and bereavement. About 15 family groups live together in one specially made village and this community in the community is the right solution for local children. We do not provide a first world environment: children sleep four to a room, but we provide a loving environment that is culturally local, with local language and religion where children can feel secure.

3) Can you know that the child really has no-one? SOS Children has a wealth of experience after crises all around the world; Rwanda, Kosovo and many others. Sometimes parents are found years later still mourning the child they thought was dead. Do you want to have adopted a tsunami orphan away from that culture and deny a mother the chance of re-finding her baby?

Do something positive about your protective feelings for these children. SOS Children has many thousands in emergency centres. Become an emergency relief sponsor and help support and protect them. When we have finished the process of searching for lost parents and establishing whether the children have extended families or other possible homes, we will offer to change emergency relief sponsorship into a long term sponsorship.

If you would like to start supporting tsunami orphans we suggest you complete the online forms on Sponsor a Child online but state in instructions "emergency relief sponsorship: tsunami orphans".

IF you wish to donate to our Disaster Appeal, please use the online donation page and give instructions "disaster relief" (or if you follow this link directly to the donation page we'll assume that's what you wanted). 100% of funds raised in this online appeal will be passed on to the countries where the need is.

NEWS: Classic Response are arranging a benefit concert for SOS Children's work in Tsunami Affected countries.

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With our charity you can sponsor a refugee child from Tibet and give a child food, education and healthcare.