From the perspective of the orphans, the disaster is even more profound and tragic. They remain in orphanages in Eastern Europe—which are the worst in the world—with Russia and Romania taking the lead in disgraceful and outrageous conditions. These institutions are not habitable; children are malnourished and in some cases starving and emaciated. They lie in their own feces and urine and in clothes that are old, torn, and not fitted to their bodies. Orphans lie still and untouched in their cribs, all day and all night. They are in pain from hunger, cold, and undefined medical conditions.

Babies and toddlers who do not “behave” are medicated and sedated with drugs such as Phenobarbital, a common anti-seizure drug. This drug’s side effects can cause exhaustion and disengagement. They have no toys and not one iot of affection and connections with staff, this leading to attachment issues. With no touch, affection, and play, the children begin to provide their own stimulation because they need it to survive. If and when they stand up, they rock from side to side and bang their heads. They stare emptily into space and appear to be dull and delayed. Bottle propping and speed-feeding gruel causes them to choke and aspirate their food—sometimes causing pneumonia and death.

They are tortured by the circumstances I describe above and sustain damage to their bodies and their brains. When Russian orphans are measured, they are commonly found to have failure to thrive/growth stunting for weight and height. Most significantly, they often suffer organic brain damage from exposure to alcohol in utero, malnutrition and from the lack of stimulation in orphanages.