Should I adopt my orphaned cousin?

Alternatives to adoption: New nests


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Children are best taken care of in a family. This is also recognized by the states that have signed the "Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in the Field of International Adoption". They demand "that every state should take appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in his or her family of origin".

An adoption abroad is only permitted "after a due examination of the accommodation options in the home country".

In traditional African societies this means above all: the extended family takes care of them. When parents cannot care for their child, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins ​​step in. But what if this family cohesion has long since broken, if mothers simply abandon their newborns? For most Kenyans, the adoption of a complete stranger is inconceivable.

Numerous organizations are therefore trying to look after the abandoned and orphaned children in Kenya, mostly with money from abroad. How many there are in total has never been recorded, as the government had to admit in a report to the United Nations last year.

As an alternative to conventional orphanages, SOS Children's Villages has been working in Kenya for over 35 years. More than 500 children live in four children's villages in 52 "children's village families" with their "children's village mother" in mixed-age groups. Later they switch to SOS youth facilities and receive training. (

The German Irene Baumgärtner is taking a different approach with her aid organization The Nest (, which focuses on reintegration. Her Kenyan social worker Peter Kabiru tries to find the mothers of abandoned children in detailed detective work - and is often successful.

Sometimes it is enough to ask around in the neighborhood, a job that the police seldom do. Once a mother who left her baby in the hospital borrowed her bed neighbor's cell phone. The number she had dialed was the crucial lead.