An encouraging story about foster families

Written by on March 10, 2015 in The Blog with 0 Comments

Studies have shown that children raised in orphanages have developmental delays, including measurably slower brain development, compared with children raised in families.

These studies, as far as I have seen, relate to institutions that care for children from infancy. The worst examples of such orphanages may be in Eastern Europe and China. The study referred to below is a twelve year effort by researchers from Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital studying children raised at an orphanage in Romania.

Babies need attention – to be held, talked to, and played with – and they need to bond with a significant and consistent adult, not a string of volunteers. Without the right kinds of attention and interaction, connections in their brains may fail to develop, or develop inadequately.

A must-see for parents and anyone concerned with how children develop

Here’s some encouraging news recently reported in The Telegraph. A twelve year study has shown that even after being raised in such orphanages and suffering impaired brain development, children placed in well chosen and supervised foster families show remarkable recoveries.

Their ‘white matter’ – the part of the brain which helps neurons communicate – was significantly damaged by their ordeal leading to poor language skills and decreased mental ability.

However the researchers discovered that those children fortunate enough to find loving foster homes were able to regrow the missing connections and restore lost function.

“Results from this study contribute to growing evidence that severe neglect in early life affects the structural integrity of white matter throughout the brain,” said report author Dr Johanna Bick of Boston Children’s Hospital.

This is a ray of hope, and it’s further evidence that we should be doing everything possible (through our efforts, donations, and advocacy) to ensure that children are raised within families to begin with.



Andy Gray

About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray hosts and writes for Uniting for Children. He lives in Cambodia with his family where he works with Alongsiders International. He wrote Home, a Cambodian story and created the video “Why Not a Family?.