There are 39 state orphanages in the Kyrgyz Repubic, housing over 5,000 children.1 According to UNICEF the actual number of orphans is closer to 6,000.2 Approximately 80% of these children are referred to as “social orphans,” with one or both parents living, but unable or unwilling to care for them.3
While the number of orphans has steadily increased from 1992 to the present, the state has dramatically reduced its expenditures for children in institutions.4 As a result, orphanages are often unable to provide adequate nutrition, medical attention, and educational materials for the children. Elena Voronina, member of the Kyrgyz Non-commercial Organizations’ Coordination Council and Interbilim Human Rights Center goes further saying, “Orphanages are known for their poor plight, violence and ill treatment toward children,”5 She adds, “Violence in orphanages has reached scaring sizes with systematic sexual harassments and even suicides” 6
1 U.S. Department of State. 2008 Human Rights report: Kyrgyz Republic
2 Olga Grebennikova. Every child has the right to live in a family. UNICEF Media Center.
3 Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Kyrgyzstan: Move to keep orphans out of institutions, 29 July 2008, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4896c4711e.html
5 Aizada Kutaeva. Kyrgyz children’s rights protection on verge of catastrophe. 24 News Agency.
6 Violence against children on the rise in Kyrgyzstan 19/11-2009 13:42, Bishkek – News Agency “24.kg”, By Ivan DONIS
The Bucharest Early Intervention Study determined that the effects of prolonged institutionalization on children can be profound. Due to the lack of brain stimulation, institutionalized children suffer from greatly diminished development. For every three months a child spends in an institution, a month of growth is lost. Children living outside of family care show diminished intellectual performance, exhibit lower levels of brain activity and experience a variety of social and behavioral problems. For a summary of the study’s findings, see the
Summary Report prepared by Joint Council on International Children’s Services (in PDF format).
In the Kyrgyz Republic, orphans who are not adopted may remain in state care until they turn 16. At that time, they must leave the only homes they’ve ever known – their orphanages. With no family support system, many of them end up on the streets. According to Aleksei Petrushevsky, Director of the Street Children Rehabilitation Center in Bishkek, “Residents of orphanages are completely not adjusted to life, especially girls. The state spends money on children, but as a rule former residents of orphanages have no access to housing and jobs. They have to engage in illegal activities.”1
The numbers don’t paint a pretty picture for Kyrgyzstan’s street children:
79% are inhalant addicts (glue, petroleum)
Almost 100% smoke cigarettes
56% drink alcohol
6% consume drugs
80% are involved in criminal activity2
1 Number of social orphans exceeds 23 thousands in Kyrgyzstan
17/11-2009 14:08, Bishkek – News Agency “24.kg”, By Ksenia TOLKANEVA
2 At least 79 percent of street children – inhalant addicts
23/11-2009 07:03, Bishkek – News Agency “24.kg”, By Ivan DONIS
Current Adoption Situation
Kyrgyz citizens adopted 1000 orphans in 2007. That number has remained relatively flat for the past eight years. Meanwhile, adoptions by foreign citizens were on the rise. In 2005, just four Kyrgyz orphans were adopted by American families. By 2009, a total of 178 Kyrgyz orphans had been placed in safe, loving permanent families in the U.S. In February of 2009 the Kyrgyz government placed a moratorium on international adoptions, citing fraud and abuse of the system. Investigations ensued, and new procedures were implemented. Approximately 65 international adoptions from the United States were in process before the moratorium was called. View their adoption video: English version | Russian version. In the Spring of 2012, international adoptions from the United States resumed.