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After the fall of communism in Romania in 1989, the world was shocked to discover a vast system of orphanages. Unwanted children languished in cribs with scant attention from caregivers. The deprivation the children faced provoked international outrage. But it also made possible some unique research. Scientists are measuring how children recover from early neglect and discovering what early damage might be irreversible.

Deprivation and the Brain

For five years researchers have been following orphans placed in high-quality foster care to see how much recovery is possible.

Romania's Orphan Story 1966-2006

More on the circumstances that led to Romania's abandoned children and efforts to help those children today.

See other American RadioWorks reporting on adoption including:

Ghosts of the Orphanage

Leah, now a teenager, spent her first four years in a Chinese orphanage. She and her family tell the story of how Leah learned to become part of a family and catch up with her peers in school.

Finding Home in Two Worlds

More than 20,000 foreign children are adopted by Americans every year. Most come from poor and troubled parts of the world, and a life in America offers new hope. But it also means separation from birth culture. Finding Home: Fifty Years of International Adoption explores the pull of adoption across lives and borders.

American RadioWorks' reporting on the brain science of early childhood is funded by the Spencer Foundation, supporting research to improve learning.

Major funding for American RadioWorks comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Credits:
Producer: Sasha Aslanian
American RadioWorks editors: Catherine Winter, Stephen Smith
National Public Radio Editor for Deprivation and the Brain: Anne Gudenkauf
Web producer: Ochen Kaylan
Production Assistance: Kate Mudge, Bryant Switzky, Molly Bloom