Child abandonment is not uncommon, even in countries that have social safety nets, such as the United States. Poorer countries are more often thought of as having high rates of abandoned children, but because of the widely extended family units that exist, very often the children are raised by uncles, aunts, and others when the parents are unable to do so.
Take for example the orphanages of Tijuana, Mexico, where the poorest of the poor go on to abandon their children – oftentimes after these children have lived with their families for many years already. These children are dropped off at privately run – in other words, a private citizen with a bit of spare space for some kids – orphanages, but will not be adopted by potential eager parents. The idea is that the children’s parents will some day return to reclaim their offspring.
Sadly, in many cases this never happens, and when the children reach the age of majority they are either turned out onto the street, or they are required to go to work and support the orphanage. Most children end up running away. The same is true for Russia, which for the longest time had very hard-lined adoption procedures that in fact discouraged a lot of people from adopting abandoned children. The results were children who were turned out of the orphanages in droves upon reaching the age of majority, only to hit the streets as glue-sniffing drug addicts or prostitutes.
In the United States, abandoned children are rarer, but frequently also younger. Baby abandonment is not a rare phenomenon, and very often the process is fatal to the infant. The news reports are filled with stories of newborn infants that were stuffed into garbage bags and dropped off into garbage cans. Steps have been taken to come up with a legalized form of child abandonment, where – usually within 72 hours after birth – a parent may relinquish his or her child at a fire station or police station, no questions asked and no identification required.
While it may appear odd that a country as rich in resources and social services as the United States, is suddenly acknowledging this problem to be one of growing proportions, it does make sense when considering that in a society where “everything goes” and personal freedoms are considered king, personal responsibility has taken a large backseat. Add to this the increasing numbers of immigrants who still bring in their societal mores, and it is not surprising that many a young mother either does not want, or does not dare, to parent her child. Detractors of legalized baby abandonment do not believe that supporting such an activity with laws and facilities is a good idea, but proponents correctly point out that it saves a life – which is infinitely more important than attempting to legislate morality, good sense, and personal responsibility.