"Orphanage tourism turns children into cash-generating commodities subject to the usual economic laws of supply and demand," say Peter Singer and Leigh Mathews in this commentary piece for Project Syndicate. "While that may be good for orphanage operators, it is bad for the children who live there." Singer and Mathews explain how orphanages have become a tourist attraction in many countries, often employing child "recruiters" to "encourage impoverished parents to send their children to the orphanage" so that they can raise revenue. "In many low-income countries, inadequate regulation of orphanages provides an environment rich in opportunity for child trafficking and exploitation."
What's more, "children do better in families, not institutions," say the authors, and children living in these institutions "are often suffering the effects of trauma, institutionalization, and attachment disorders and require specialized care in a family-based setting." The article calls for a redirection of funds and resources away from institutions and towards organizations that work to keep families together and reintegrate children into families.