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In EU, oversight needed for abandoned kids

U. NOTTINGHAM (UK) — A consistent and supportive approach to child abandonment in Europe is needed to protect the welfare of hundreds of youngsters given up by their parents every year.

A two-year study funded by the European Commission’s Daphne program explored child abandonment and its prevention across the 27 countries of the European Union.

The study looked at children who were both openly left for adoption at maternity units and those secretly abandoned, including the use of controversial ‘baby hatches’ in some European countries that allow mothers to leave their babies anonymously.

“Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) clearly states that every child has the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents,” says Kevin Browne, professor at the University of Nottingham who led the study.

“When a child is abandoned, this right is violated. Infants and young children are those most at risk of being abandoned and the rates of child abandonment within the EU are concerning, especially in the current economic climate.

“Child abandonment is a neglected issue in Europe. Few countries keep national records regarding the number of children abandoned, abandonment is seldom legally defined in legislation, and very little research exists regarding the extent, causes and consequences of this phenomenon.

“What is required is a consistent and supportive approach to children in need across Europe.”

Browne and colleagues interviewed staff from 100 maternity units and 100 prevention programs across 10 partner countries—Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the UK—to explore the extent of child abandonment, its causes, its consequences, and good practice in terms of prevention.

Government departments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the remainder of the EU were contacted for information relating to child abandonment in their countries.

Of the 22 countries which responded, Slovakia had the highest number of children aged up to three years old who were openly given up for adoption at 4.9 per 1,000 live births, followed by the Czech Republic (4.1 per 1,000 live births), Latvia (3.9 per 1,000 live births), and Poland (3.7 per 1,000 live births).

There was little information regarding the number of children secretly abandoned outdoors or in public spaces but some countries did keep national records of children abandoned by their mothers in maternity units.

Romania had the highest number of children abandoned per year at maternity units with 8.6 per 1,000 live births, followed by Slovakia (3.3 per 1,000 live births), Poland and Lithuania (1.7 per 1,000 live births) and France (1 per 1,000 live births). They found that a child being left in a maternity unit is one of the key reasons why children under the age of 3 are placed into institutional care.

The approaches to addressing secret child abandonment across the EU vary. In some countries it is no longer illegal to abandon a child, provided that the child is left in a safe place.

Of the 27 EU member countries, 11 still have ‘baby hatches’ in operation—Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, and Slovakia—a practice which dates back to medieval times.

The study found that although the assumption is that it is the mother who leaves her infant at a baby hatch, there is growing evidence that it is frequently men or relatives abandoning the child, raising questions about the mother’s whereabouts and whether she has consented to giving up her baby.

The anonymous nature of the hatches also have further implications, among them the lack of information about the child’s family medical history and the lack of opportunity for the baby to remain with its family in the care of other relatives.

The research found that the Czech Republic and Lithuania both have an average of 7 infants left in baby hatches per year, followed by Poland with 6 and Hungary and Slovakia with 4.

In France and Holland, women have the right to remain anonymous to their babies after giving birth, while in the UK it remains a crime to secretly abandon a child and no such comparable birthing laws exist.

Previous UK research has identified 124 cases of secret infant abandonment across the UK between 1998 and 2005.

More news from University of Nottingham: http://communications.nottingham.ac.uk/News.html

chat30 Comments

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30 Comments

  1. Pat Barton

    What are the chances of adopting any of the abandoned children?

  2. Marla

    I too would be interested in adopting an abandoned child. How could this be facilitated?

  3. Marla

    How could an adoption be facilitated. I also am interested.

  4. Amy

    Send them to us in the U.S.A., we will love and care for your babies. How can we help?

  5. hannah kietzman

    Im interested to in taking a child in. Who can we contact.

  6. Jamie

    I would too love to help, I have been trying to conceive for 4 years and devestatedly never have. I would love adoption however, I dont see adoption and fertility treatments (Invitro, as a I have tried fertility pills.) I dont have a million dollars but I have enough to raise a baby, I am a well educated and employed person who would love a baby for my husband and I!!!

  7. Tina Tovar

    If you all would think of the love people could give them and not the money you charge them you could have the babies a new home . We would take in a little boy and a girl all you would have to do is tell us when to pick them up from airport .

  8. brandie

    How would you go about adopting an abandoned child from there.

  9. Beverly Santos

    http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/Pages/default.aspx – Website of SOS Children’s Villages International, the umbrella organisation of all SOS Children’s Villages associations another idea may be to research

    George Protopapas, National Director of the charity’s Greek division and his department may be able to refer you. Don’t worry about English, they all speak it. (His name appeared in the article)

    Here is the article I got the information:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/austeritys-cost-abandoned-children-europe-150243995.html

  10. Beverly Santos

    Aug 10, 2012 9:20

    http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/Pages/default.aspx – Website of SOS Children’s Villages International, the umbrella organisation of all SOS Children’s Villages associations another idea may be to research

    George Protopapas, National Director of the charity’s Greek division and his department may be able to refer you. Don’t worry about English, they all speak it. (His name appeared in the article)

    Here is the article I got the information:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/austeritys-cost-abandoned-children-europe-150243995.html

  11. Barbara

    My husband and I have been blessed to have so much, and we would love to adopt an abandoned baby.
    Please let us know if this could be possible.

  12. Asvinee

    I have been blessed to have a better standard of living after being adopted, and now I would love to give the love my mom shares with me to a chile. Please send me information of how I can adopt one of these babies.

    My heart breaks after reading this article.

  13. sarah

    I know that this is a sad sorry and heartbreaking. everyone is talking about adoption and thats great but how about the children here in the US that needs a home full of love…… what about those children?????

  14. Bridgette

    I would love to adopt a baby and provide a loving family and home to a child/ren. Every child deserves a safe & loving home ~ so why is it to difficult to adopt when the numbers of abandoned babies are overwhelming as these articles read?

    There are so MANY families that would love to adopt and provide a home for these children. To read about the numbers of children abandoned is heart breaking. What those poor parents must go through to make such a decision = to hope for these babies have a better life.

    How can we find out where to adopt?

  15. Selina Cameron

    My husband I and don’t have children of our own and would love to adopt. Please let us know a.s.a.p how we might adopt a precious abandoned baby/child

  16. Nathalie

    how come no one answers regarding how can these babies be adopted??

  17. Michelle

    There are almost as many children in the U.S. that need a good home. Try getting in touch with your local Social Services. There are ALOT of children in our Foster Care system that could use a forever home. Why does it seem that we scramble to help other countries out, but we fail to see the issues at our own feet.

  18. Nathalie

    One other thing, every child has the right to stay and grow up with its parents and I would like to know if there is a good trustworthy organization that would help us sponsor these babies/children to give them the oportunity to stay with their families and help with the expenses, something like becoming a second parent and be involved in the well being, grow and care of them with possibilities to have them visit us or we visit them… I would love to do this, even though adoption is also great, i am thinking of those kids that have been abandoned and they are 3 or 4 years old!! they already have concious of their family and it brakes my heart to think they have been pushed away from them for whatever reason it may be…any information?

  19. Nathalie

    MIchelle, do you know of any Foster Home in Hampton Roads Virginia area?

  20. brenda

    How would one go about adopted a baby

  21. Kristen Jane

    My Comment is for Individual who made the comment about Adopting the U.S children 1st. Do you realize the red tape the U.S puts forth for adoption in the U.S? I am unable to have children & have wanted a child for almost 10yrs. The Process is horrifiing and IF you happen to get a child that mother has up to 1yr sometimes longer, to change her mind & rip that child out of your home, which only makes it worse for that child. we have a terrible system for making sure children have a roof over there head. In Europe, South American & even Asian Countries, as long as you can pay the $ & prove you can care for that child, Its yours. End of Story. There is no games to be played. They just want one less child out of the Orphanage.

  22. Sheila Belgard

    How do I go about adopting a baby from the abandoned babies? I have been a foster parent in the United States and would love to adopt a baby to get them out of an orphanage. I can provide for the baby and give him/her a great home. Please let me know.

  23. bobi

    how would get information to adopting a baby i can give a loveing careing love to a child iam a mother of two children my shelf i couldnt see leaveing my children any where

  24. Terri

    How about taking in some of the children in our own country who are being abandon or left on the streets. I understand wanting to help, but we as Americans need to help out own children first. The statistics in this country are not that great either!!

  25. Quenecia

    WHY IS IT THAT IF A PERSON KNOWS THAT THEY ARE NOT FINANCIALLY STABLE FOR A CHILD TO GO OUT, GET PREGNANT, BIRTH A BABY & DROP THE BABY OFF TO SOMEONE ELSE SAYING, :OH I CANT TAKE CARE OF IT”. THEN YOU SHOULD’VE NEVER GOTTEN PREGNANT!!! BABIES DONT ASK TO BE HERE & I BELIEVE IT’S THE ADULTS’ RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE THE BEST DECISION! THERE ARE PLENTY OF WOMEN IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD LOVE TO HAVE & CARE FOR A CHILD, BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO JUST GET PREGNANT & DROP THE BABY OFF TO SOME ORGANIZATION??? I LOVE CHILDREN I HAVE 2 OF MY OWN & WOULD LOVE TO ADOPT…I KNOW THAT IF I WEREN’T FINANCIALLY STABLE I WOULDN’T LAY DOWN TO HAVE ONE!!!!! THESE PEOPLE ARE CARELESS & SELFISH!!!!

  26. Lorrie

    I am interested in taking in an infant and caring for him or her I run a successful home daycare.

  27. andrea valentino

    My husband and i would LOVe to adopt one or two.please let us know how to do so.

  28. Michelle

    My opinion? If you can’t withstand the red tape in the U.S. to adopt a child, how are you going to withstand the frustrations of raising a child? I have three children. Two born to me and one adopted through foster care. I was not dealing with any grief about non-fertility when I adopted my baby (at age 45). I had two children in their teens. She had special needs and Catholic Charities was looking for a home for her. I wasn’t looking for a baby, but no one wanted her. I fell in love with my baby so much that I would have worked through all the red tape in the world and jumped through all the hoops you put in front of me to have her. If you can’t handle the red tape or want a baby of a certain race only, then maybe your heart isn’t big enough for a baby. If you are willing to get fingerprinted, have the social workers assess your home for safety, look at your finances, interview your family and references, and then take 30 hours of parenting classes (even if you have already parented), then go to your local Child and Family Services office and ask to be a foster parent. Yes, a mother may get better and get her child back and you might be heartbroken (But isn’t it wonderful for the CHILD to be reunited with their parent?) That will be the first of many heartbreaks you will have with your children. They are individual people, not your property; they don’t always do what you want them to. But with perseverence, you can also adopt here in the U.S. (at no financial cost) and enjoy years of happiness.

  29. Janet

    Who can I contact to discuss adoption?

  30. Me

    If you don’t have the skills to google “how do I adopt” you don’t have the skills to be a parent. And yeah, there are thousands upon thousands of kids here in the US that need adopting. If you really truly want to help a kid out you’d adopt one of the hard to place older, non-white, physically or emotionally different kids rotting in foster care for next to nothing in financial costs, possibly even getting some money back after tax credits, state based incentives, and DHS supportive payments. If you only want a 100% healthy white baby under 6 months old (these are the expensive ones to adopt,) and can’t stand to consider another child you are a sick piece of sewage flotsam who shouldn’t be allowed within 100 yard s of any child.

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