Between 1967 until his violent overthrow in 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu effectively ruled Romania and under his control the government outlawed abortion for “women under 40 with fewer than four children”. One consequence of this was the abandonment of large numbers of children – estimates are frequently put at around 100,000 – to the country’s orphanages because their parents could not afford to care for them.
After the fall of Ceausescu, the outcry over the cruel and terrible conditions in these orphanages led to many of the children being adopted by couples in Europe and America – and this is where the English-Romanian Adoptees Project (ERA) comes into play as was the first study to follow a cohort of children who had suffered periods of institutional deprivation through into adult life.
To their surprise, researchers found that problems experienced by many of the Romanian adoptees were neurodevelopmental, suggesting that deprivation had affected brain development.
The film, featuring lead researcher Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, provides a clear introduction to a study that is changing the way we think about deprivation and development.
The film is available on-demand to buy or as a 7-day rental.