While the overall number of children living in institutions in Bulgaria has greatly diminished, Bulgaria still has the highest rate of institutionalized children in Europe. Tragically, over 50% of Bulgaria’s orphans are of Roma descent—a group that has been heavily discriminated against throughout Europe.
HOW WE’RE INTERVENING FOR ORPHANS IN BULGARIA
Over the past 10 years, AGCI has implemented policies in Bulgaria that have drastically changed the landscape of international adoption. 10 years ago, there were 144 orphanages in Bulgaria. Today, thanks to AGCI’s advocacy, the number of institutions has dropped to 57. Through AGCI’s education and family support programs, more children are also able to stay within their families or grow up in loving foster or adoptive families. In 2007, 8,019 children were struggling in Bulgaria’s orphanages and today, 1,300 remain. Additionally, AGCI’s inter-country adoption work helped make it possible in 2016 for 493 children in Bulgaria to unite with their forever families, compared to just 95 kids in 2007.
Our goal is for all of Bulgaria’s orphanages to close their doors. Our prayer is for every orphan to grow up within a family—whether it’s their biological family, a foster family, or an adoptive family!
We’re so proud! Students enrolled in our Bulgaria vocational training program recently made the news! These amazing kids were featured in the local news for their cooking class graduation.
Following a soft closure of international adoption in Bulgaria, AGCI sought out the new Minister of Justice to revolutionize the adoption process. Under AGCI’s guidance, Bulgaria implemented a new countrywide Hague adoption process and advocacy tools for orphans with special needs.
Through this advocacy, AGCI created a pathway to family for 8,019 orphans in 157 government institutions by introducing a new model for inter-country adoption.
AGCI has over 25 years of experience uniting children in Bulgaria with their forever families. To date, we’ve placed over 620 children with their loving adoptive families through our Bulgaria adoption program.
AGCI also believes that finances should never prevent families from uniting with their child—which is why over the past two years, families adopting through AGCI’s Bulgaria program have received over $104,838 in adoption grants.
AGCI’s Vocational Training program for Bulgaria’s aging out orphans has expanded to two homes in Dobrich and Belogradchik. These programs aim to serve a generation of kids who did not have access to the intervention programs that we are now launching today.
Through training and mentorship, older orphans are able to pursue their dreams while learning valuable skills so they are able to create successful, independent futures. In the past year, 138 aging out orphans received vocational training to help facilitate a healthy transition into adulthood. Recent graduates of our Bulgaria Vocational Training program have undergone training in cooking, driving, hairdressing, and massage therapy.
16-year-old Galya has spent the past 4 years in an institution. Tragically, her mother passed away and her father felt unable to care for her and her two younger siblings. Galya’s hope is to become a manicurist so she can support herself when she ages out of care in the coming years. Thanks to AGCI’s Vocational Training Program, Galya graduated from her manicurist course this past January! This training has given Galya the skills and confidence she needs to create a successful future for herself outside of an institution.