One of the first questions we get about the adoption is why we chose Rwanda. From the beginning of the process, Katie had a heart for Africa. After our trip to L.A. in February (which is where this really became something we had to do instead of just talking about it) we zeroed in on Rwanda.

Once we started researching more about Rwanda, the situation there, what life is like in Rwanda, it became clear that this was exactly where we needed to pursue an adoption. It is simply heartbreaking.

  • Rwanda is the most densely populated in Africa, with one of the highest levels of poverty. Currently there are only 3 hospitals in the whole country.
  • Number of Orphans and Vulnerable Children: In Rwanda, over 800,000 children have lost at least one parent; 210,000 children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.
  • Orphans and Gender: In Rwanda, 45% of all girls have lost at least one parent.
  • Child-Headed Households: Over 100,000 children are the head of their households in Rwanda, one of the greatest populations of child-headed households in the world.
  • Orphan Interventions: Orphans are cared for in the community primarily through orphanages or the assimilation of a child into the community.
  • Rwanda does not have an adoption agency to facilitate the adoption of children internationally. Only six Rwandan children were adapted to the U.S. in the last five years.
  • Orphans on the Streets: There are 4,000 children living on the streets in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.


  • Rwanda is one of the poorest countries in the world. It ranks 158th out of 175 countries listed in the United Nations Development Programme’s

(UNDP) Human Development Index:

  • 60% of the population lives below the poverty line.
  • Rwanda’s population is young. Out of the 8 million people living in Rwanda, more than half are under 18years old.
  • Rwanda has one of the world’s worst child mortality rates – one in five Rwandan children die before their fifth birthday. Malaria is the leading cause of infant and child mortality (29%).
  • 42% of Rwandan children under five years old are malnourished.
  • More than 400,000 children are out of school.
  • Rwanda has one of the world’s largest proportions of households that are headed by children (i.e. children raising children) with an estimated 101,000 children heading up some 42,000 households.
  • 8.9% of the adult population is HIV-positive.
  • 2000 women – many of whom were survivors of rape – were tested for HIV during the five years following the 1994 genocide. Out of these women, 80% were found to be HIV-positive. Many were not sexually active before the genocide.
  • Between 9 and 13.4% of 15 to 24-year-old females, and between 3.9 and 5.9% of 15 to 24-year-old boys are HIV-positive.
  • By 2001, an estimated 264,000 children had lost one or both parents to AIDS – representing 43% of all orphans.
  • 613,000 Rwandan children between the ages of 0 to 14 years old are orphans.
  • 88% of women have to walk for more than one hour to reach a health facility.

Children at risk of exploitation

  • An estimated 1 million orphans and “other vulnerable children” live in Rwanda.  These children include:
  • 101,000 children heading up an estimated 42, 0000 households
  • 7,000 street children
  • 3,500 children living in orphanages
  • 1,000 children living in conflict with the law
  • 60,000 children living with disabilities
  • 120,000 working children
  • 300 infants living with their mothers in prison
  • children affected by armed conflict (2,500 still in Congo)
  • children who are sexually abused (unknown figures)
  • children affected/infected by HIV/AIDS (unknown figures)
  • Sexual exploitation: There is growing evidence that many children heading households – especially girls – find themselves forced to perform sexual favors in exchange for money, basic goods or protection.
  • Lack of access to education: Discriminatory attitudes towards girls and lack of adequate sanitary facilities prevent some adolescent girls from attending school.
  • Sexual abuse: Growing evidence suggests that sexual abuse within the home has increased since the genocide.