Orphanage critics should keep in mind two consequential adoption issues. First, adoptions fail. Exactly how often is unclear. A University of Minnesota survey estimated failed (or “disrupted”) adoptions accounted for 6 to 11 percent of adoptions. For children older than three, the failure rate is between 10 and 16 percent (representing thousands of adoptions). For teens, the failure rate can be one in four. Adoptions can fail for many reasons, not the least of which is that adopted children sometimes come with embedded problems the adopting parents can’t handle.
Second, many children—including me—detached from their parents don’t want to be adopted. When my 10-year-old buddies and I learned a couple would be scouting our campus for adoptable children, we headed for the woods, and our resistance to adoption was understandable: Children extracted from dysfunctional families don’t always predict any new family will be better.
Besides, we had a good home, albeit an orphanage—but with benefits. We had to work a lot, ingraining a work ethic. We also had our own pool, gymnasium, and sports teams, not to mention readily available buddies for pick-up games. We had better-than-average schools, and we knew in seventh grade that if admitted to a college, our way would be paid.