In this TED talk from May 2012, Georgette Mulheir, CEO of JK Rowling's children's charity, Lumos, discusses the dangers of institutionalization for children. I was struck by Mulheir's point that the three main reasons children end up in orphanages are:
poverty -- parents wanting to parent, but lacking financial resources to provide for their children
disability -- parents wanting to parent, but unable to afford and/or access medical care and special resources for a child with an illness or disabling condition
ethnicity -- minority groups in every country face discrimination, which undercuts economic stability and the ability to care for children. In Europe, for example, this has lead to the disproportionate institutionalization of Roma children
Mulheir has worked with children in countries around the world, but first became an advocate after seeing the conditions in Romanian institutions following the Romanian revolution of 1989. A commenter at the TED site claims Mulheir has been a long-time opponent of international adoption; in a couple of quick internet searches I couldn't find any statements from her about adoption as a permananency option for kids in need. Her cause, which I think we can all support regardless of our feelings on adoption, appears to be researching the dangerous effects of orphanage care and addressing those issues of poverty, disability and ethnicity that unfairly break biological families apart. She also makes a case for the cost effectiveness of providing families with the resources to stay together vs institutionalizing kids. Preserving families not only protects children and encourages better physical and emotional outcomes for them, it also costs societies less than orphanage care.