Romania's Abandoned Children: Deprivation, Brain Development, and the Struggle for Recovery
by Charles A. Nelson, Nathan A. Fox and Charles H. Zeanah
Harvard University Press, 2013

When Nicolae Ceaus¸escu's Communist regime fell in 1989, it left behind 170,000 orphaned children—remnants of the Romanian leader's aggressive initiative to boost the national birth rate through abortion restrictions and financial incentives. Most of the abandoned children were raised in overcrowded orphanages, receiving only the most rudimentary care. A decade later Nelson, Fox and Zeanah launched the government-backed Bucharest Early Intervention Project to determine just how detrimental institutional life could be for children. Now the researchers are presenting their findings in rigorous and heart-breaking detail. In Romania's Abandoned Children, they reveal the best and worst outcomes of childhoods spent in the system, offering vital prescriptions and warnings for all future foster care.