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Children who have Survived the Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria Need Help Finding Their Families, not Adoption

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Feb. 15, 2023)—Adoption is not an appropriate response for unaccompanied children until local authorities and humanitarian agencies have exhausted all efforts to trace and reunite them with their families and extended community, warned Save the Children.

Viral images of children being pulled out of the rubble in Syria and Türkiye have prompted an outpouring of offers from families all over the world to adopt children who appear to have lost their families.

However, affected families, local networks, humanitarian organizations, and authorities are working diligently to reunite children with their immediate or extended families. Some of these children may have extended family but limited cell phone reception, collapsed powerlines, and damage to infrastructure makes it challenging to reunite families during a crisis.

Efforts to support family tracing, reunify children with their families, and find appropriate care in the interim for those with limited options is paramount in times of emergencies to ensure children remain protected from harm. 

Rebecca Smith, Save the Children’s Acting Global Child Protection Director, said:

“It’s natural to see these heart-breaking images and want to help in any way possible, but adoption should never be pursued during or immediately after an emergency like the recent earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye. Though offers to adopt children who appear unaccompanied, separated, or may have lost immediate family members may be well intentioned, this is not the appropriate immediate solution at this time.

“Save the Children has been responding to children in crisis for over a century, so we know how important it is to provide them structure and support in their own homes and communities. Children have already been through so much upheaval, they need safety and support in an environment as familiar as possible.”

Like in many other contexts, many families in Syria and Türkiye have taken in unaccompanied or separated children who are children of relatives, neighbors, or friends. As such, support for families (including through cash) to provide a protective barrier is critical for helping mitigate the impacts of the earthquakes—especially for those caring for children who are unaccompanied, separated, or who may have lost their immediate family members.

The best way for people to support children is by donating to trusted local organizations and humanitarian agencies who have expertise in this area.

In Türkiye, Save the Children is coordinating with the Türkiye Ministry of Family and Social affairs which is organizing family tracing and reunification. In Syria, humanitarian organizations have established a referral and case management system to help these children in the most appropriate way possible.

In Türkiye, Save the Children is supporting the national response in close coordination with national, provincial, and local-level authorities, stakeholders, and partners. 

The organization is distributing food, temporary shelter items, and essential emergency relief items, including blankets, warm clothing, heaters, and hygiene and sanitation items. The organization is also bringing in a team of water, sanitation, and hygiene specialists, who will assess the needs on the ground, and also support the government in its response.

In Türkiye and Syria, Save the Children is planning to reach a total of 1.6 million people, including 675,000 children. This includes 1.1 million people, including 550,000, children in Syria, and 500,000 people, including 125,000 children, in Türkiye.


Spokespeople are available in Türkiye and the region, including from Save the Children’s Syria Response Office. To arrange an interview, contact Claire Garmirian ([email protected], +1-203-209-8545).

News audiences interested in learning more about Save the Children’s humanitarian response to the earthquakes can visit If so inclined, they can also donate to the organization’s Children’s Emergency Fund, which can be found on the site.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we've been advocating for the rights of children worldwide. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming the future we share. Our results, financial statements and charity ratings reaffirm that Save the Children is a charity you can trust. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


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