Date of Award

Spring 2-15-2018

Degree Type

Honors Thesis


International Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Bryan Dowd-Uribe


The housing of orphaned children in institutions has been common practice in Bulgaria. The post-communist era ushered in reforms to the orphan care system, under the guidance of the state and the international community. This has shifted care for orphaned children from institutions to alternative care in family-type settings, under a process referred to as deinstitutionalization. These reforms are believed to benefit a child’s development and well-being. New questions arise surrounding the role of the caregiver in implementing these reforms in their care practice, chiefly how caregivers strive to integrate the children into society while facing the persisting limitations of society’s unwillingness to engage, continued biases and historical marginalization of orphaned children. This study analyzes caregiver discourses in the context of deinstitutionalization and the reforms’ primary goal of integrating orphaned children in society. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is the chosen approach as it aims to expose ideologies, power relations, and biases in discourse, analyzing them in the context of historical structures affecting the raising and integration of orphaned children. This study demonstrates that while caregivers are helping to advance the integration of orphaned children in society, they too are affected by broader, systemic historical biases in which their discourse is embedded. The aim of this study is to create a useful framework from which to explore the discursive context in which deinstitutionalization as a major social change is unfolding. It is also to help provide Bulgarian caregivers a more comprehensive and responsible means in providing childcare to the orphan population.