We adopted our daughter from Pune in 1997. I remember clearly, even over 2 decades later, the faces of the babies we saw there that we could not bring home with us. The orphanage itself was outstanding, and the staff told us that they place all their babies with families, which reassured us a little as we brought our daughter home.
Then life happened, and we were consumed with bringing up our 3 children. Our daughter has brought us great joy while simultaneously testing us tremendously as parents. Together we have run the gamut of issues related to adoption, from learning disabilities and ADHD, to teenage rebellion and anguish, and have come through with a great relationship, and a desire to help others navigate the adoption journey.
As we began researching the adoption space, we knew that Prospective Adoptive Parents currently face waits of 2-3 years, and assumed that it was due to all babies being placed and lack of children waiting to be adopted. Our comfortable assumptions were shattered as we learnt, to our horror, of the hundreds and thousands of children in India who remain in Child Care Institutions (CCIs) till 18, with no hope of getting adopted. Of the opaque and complex adoption process. Of the millions of street children who don’t even make it into the CCIs. Of the myriad of problems within the CCIs, including lack of staff training, inadequate hygiene and nutrition, and poor educational opportunities. And the heartbreaking reality of 18 year old children getting pushed out of the system to fend for themselves without being given any tools to do so.
There is a lot of poverty in India, and many children suffer from lack of opportunities to succeed. However, it is particularly heartbreaking to us when orphaned or abandoned children, who have already been dealt the harshest blow at a young age, get lost within the system, and receive no help, normally provided to most children by parents, to work towards a fulfilling, happy life.
The problem space is mind-boggling. The sheer magnitude of the numbers, and variety of challenges can be paralyzing. But the appetite for life in these children is inspiring. Keeping in mind the words “If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one (Mother Teresa)”, we set about working with a group of like-minded people to decide where to target our efforts. Initially, we are focusing on preparing children for life after leaving the orphanage at 18 and on becoming economically self-sufficient. Based on our personal experience, the challenge of transitioning our own children to independence trumped anything we faced in the earlier years. We also want to support adoptive families in their adoption journey.
There are only a few (not enough) good organizations addressing these and other aspects, such as improving the quality of the CCIs, or increasing the number of adoptions. We hope you will feel called to sign up, spread the word, volunteer, or donate, to change the course of a vulnerable child’s life today.
Gita and Madan Gopal
Who We Are
A Future for Every Child (AFEC) was formed in January 2018. We received our IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in April 2019.
We believe the world’s most vulnerable children, those who are abandoned or parentless, deserve to live in safe, loving, supportive, environments, and grow into happy productive adults.
To support the journey of orphaned and vulnerable youth to adulthood.
Our Areas of Focus
- Helping orphaned children – Prepare institutionalized youth in India to be economically self-sufficient.
- Helping families – Foster a community of parents and children who learn and grow together, and support each other, in the journey from dependence to interdependence to independence.