Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Child abandonment, the practice of abandoning one's offspring outside of legal adoption, is a long-standing social problem. Causes include many social, cultural and political factors as well as mental illness. The abandoned child is called a foundling.
Poverty is a root cause of child abandonment. Persons in cultures with poor social welfare systems who are not financially capable of taking care of a child are more likely to abandon it. Political conditions, such as difficulty in adoption proceedings, may also contribute to child abandonment.
China and other countries with laws limiting children per family have high rates of selective child abandonment. Female children are not viewed as providing for a family's economic wealth, often quite the opposite in cultures that practice dowry, therefore they are illegally abandoned in hopes of producing a boy.
Societies with strong social structures and liberal adoption laws have lower rates of child abandonment.
Abandonment is sometimes done such that the life of the child is endangered; in other cases the child is left in a place where it is relatively safe and will soon be found.
Usually the child is a baby.
Occasionally the child is older. For example, in 2002 a Chinese mother living in Italy left her 6-year-old son, Luca, in a Burger King restaurant in Amsterdam, hoping that he would get a better life with whoever would be going to take care of him. She was caught when she came back to the Netherlands to inquire about his well-being, was convicted, and served 41 days in prison. She has been expected to resume taking care of him, and has been offered support, but it was decided later that Luca will go to foster parents in Italy, when suitable ones are found.
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