There are many myths and legends about abandoned children. Even historians and scholars disagree about the causes of abandonment. There is also a vast amount of evidence that suggests abandonment is a relatively recent phenomenon. One of the most powerful examples is the case of a baby who was left in the care of a stranger, such as an innkeeper. The mother who abandoned the child may have been a lover or someone else with whom the child had a sexual relationship.
Historically, states have taken the lead in reuniting parents with their children. Federal involvement in this area began in 1935, when the Social Security Act established the Aid to Dependent Children program. The law’s provisions strengthened the states’ mandate. As the number of women turning to welfare programs increased, the federal government began calling for stronger child support enforcement provisions. In the early 1970s, these changes brought awareness to the issue of child abandonment.
In literature, child abandonment has been a persistent theme. In the nineteenth century, London was a notorious place for ragamuffins. In Paris, in 1987, parents abandoned 20% of live births. In the 1950s, Morris West wrote about the children living on the streets of Naples. Today, the United Nations estimates that there are 60 million abandoned children around the world. In the United States alone, 7,000 children are left without parents.
Abandoned children often feel inadequate and damaged. They internalize messages that tell them they are not good enough, not loved, and not valued. As a result, they develop an intense sense of worthlessness and may have difficulty relating to their classmates. In addition, many abandoned children will develop anger toward the remaining parent, which further exacerbates their lack of self-worth. It is no surprise that many abandoned children suffer from anxiety, and the resulting stress can make it difficult to perform well at school.
As a result, institutionalized abandonment spread rapidly in northern Protestant countries, including England, Switzerland, and Russia. By the early nineteenth century, the number of abandoned children in these countries was close to 150,000 per year. These statistics show that child abandonment remains a serious issue in the United States. There are many ways in which to address the issue of child abandonment. Consider the following options if you are looking to adopt an abandoned child.
The majority of children abandoned during treatment are ill-equipped to handle treatment. However, they may be abandoned because their parents are unwilling or unable to handle the costs of care. While the numbers of children abandoning their treatments are decreasing, this still happens. One of the best ways to decrease the risk of abandonment is to consider shared decision making. Consider shared decision making and consistency in strategies. Once you have a good understanding of why a child is abandoned, you can then consider the appropriate response.
Human Rights Watch documented the secret world of malign neglect, disease, and starvation among children in state-run orphanages. In 1989, Human Rights Watch documented the horrific treatment foundlings received at state orphanages. Despite the fact that 95 percent of these “orphans” are not truly orphans, they are treated in degrading ways by their staff. Most of these babies were born into impoverished families who trusted the care of some of their children to the government. They were smuggled into foundling hospitals through “wheels” – revolving cradles that allowed strangers to introduce them from outside. Often, tokens were left by parents as a possible means of identification. And, after a year, the parents returned to retrieve their children.