“He will make you smile more than he will make you cry”: Georgi’s story
Petya and Ivan Petrovi spent years longing for another child. But when their second son, Georgi, was born, the medical staff at the hospital behaved as if something terrible had happened. It was three days before the couple was even allowed to see their new baby.
The doctors told them that, because Georgi has Down’s syndrome, they would never be able to care for him themselves and should leave him in an orphanage.
Georgi’s parents were heartbroken but with no other information and nowhere else to turn, they felt they had no choice and did as they were told. But decades of evidence prove that orphanages do not protect children, they harm them. Orphanages subject children to high levels of abuse and neglect that damage their development in ways that can last a lifetime. Put simply: the last thing an orphanage can provide is the first thing every child needs: someone to love them.
Shut away in the institution, Georgi spent long hours alone in a cot, treated as a condition, not a baby. He was fed through a tube in his nose and denied even the comfort and interaction of being held and fed normally. Petya though, would not give up on her son. She visited as often as she could and did her best to maintain her bond with Georgi but could see no way to bring her baby home.
Georgi spent the first six months of his life alone in an orphanage cot. With your support, our specialist team in Bulgaria helped to reunite him with his parents.
Petya was close to despair when a relative told her about our work to reunite children from institutions with their families. She called our team in Bulgaria straight away. Over the following weeks, Kremi, a skilled and experienced Hope and Homes for Children social worker, was able to give Petya and Ivan the advice, encouragement and support they needed to challenge the authorities and be reunited with their son.
“Georgi will make you smile more than he will make you cry,” Kremi reassured Georgi’s parents and she was right. Today, Georgi is a very happy, sociable little boy who is full of energy and fun. He is the centre of attention in his home and very close to his big brother, Todor. But if Georgi had stayed in the institution, he would have spent almost all day, every day alone in a cot. He would not be able to walk or talk and he would still be fed through a tube. He would almost never have gone outside.
Instead today, with his family to love and encourage him, Georgi can walk, talk, and run and he has just learned to ride a scooter. He loves to fish and proudly shows every visitor all the cups and medals he’s won. And, with the ongoing support of our team, Georgi is getting ready to start school, so that he can continue learning and developing, alongside all the other children in his community.
With your support, we can reunite families torn apart by orphanages like Georgi’s and bring children home to the people who love them.
Always family. Never orphanages.