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Lessons learned are lost and history repeats itself…

17 Jun

Malinda over at “Adoption Talk” post Spread of Baby Hatches Alarms U.N. highlighted this article from the Guardian.

“The United Nations is increasingly concerned at the spread in Europe of “baby boxes” where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents, warning that the practice “contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents”, the Guardian has learned.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which reports on how well governments respect and protect children’s human rights, is alarmed at the prevalence of the hatches – usually outside a hospital – which allow unwanted newborns to be left in boxes with an alarm or bell to summon a carer.

The committee, a group of 18 international human rights experts based in Geneva, says that while “foundling wheels” and baby hatches had disappeared from Europe in the last century, almost 200 have been installed across the continent in the past decade in nations as diverse as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic and Latvia. Since 2000, more than 400 children have been abandoned in the hatches, with faith groups and right-wing politicians spearheading the revival in the controversial practice.

Their proponents draw on the language of the pro-life lobby and claim the baby boxes “protect a child’s right to life” and have saved “hundreds of newborns”. There are differing opinions on this key social issue across Europe. 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.

However UN officials argue that baby hatches violate key parts of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which says children must be able to identify their parents and even if separated from them the state has a “duty to respect the child’s right to maintain personal relations with his or her parent”.

In an interview with the Guardian, Maria Herczog, a member of the UNCRC committee, said that the arguments from critics were a throwback to the past. “Just like medieval times in many countries we see people claiming that baby boxes prevent infanticide … there is no evidence for this.”

Herczog, a prominent child psychologist from Hungary, says baby boxes should be replaced by better state provision of family planning, counselling for women and support for unplanned pregnancies.”

In 1869 this was written about Revolving Cradles in Europe

The Fifth Annual Report of the Board of State Charities of Massachusetts, to which are added the Reports of the Secretary and the The General Agent of the Board January, 1869.  Under the subtitle “Foundling and Deserted Children” it delves into the subject of the history of Foundling Hospitals and finally the Revolving Cradle.the history of Foundling Hospitals – their origin in the earliest times, their wide popularity, rapid extension, abuses, disfavor, and decline, furnish an instructive lesson for the student of sociology.”

“Government, therefore, by letters patent, directed that foundlings should be left to the care of private charity.” It appears to have been customary, from very early times, to place some of these infants in beds at the entrance of churches; and for those in charge of them to stand and cry to passers, “Help, for these poor innocents.[…]

But the popular sentiment of charity, unguided by wisdom, called for more foundling hospitals; and they were multiplied, and came to be considered as essential features of every Christian and civilized community.

They were encouraged by governments, and by the religious orders; and grew, by endowments, in wealth and size, until there are some which count their children by thousands, and reckon their income by millions of dollars.

The priests, nurses, officers and employees grew to be an army, with all the vices, peculations, and abuses which such armies engender. [...]

Such is the consequence of being led blind-folded by the beautiful sentiment of mercy, into wholesale measures, without the use of reason.

One of the most interesting features of the Foundling Hospitals is the Revolving Cradle, placed in a niche in the street wall of the building. Indeed it is a type of the establishment. Born of the same tender sentiment, it produces, when not regulated by reason, the same evil consequences.

A person could approach this Revolving Cradle, at any time, of day or night, place a child within its warm blankets, pull a bell, and flee away unobserved; or, watching a moment, could see the light stream from the opened wicket, the infant tenderly removed, and the Cradle swung out again for the next comer.”

These Revolving Cradles were multiplied extensively over Europe. In France alone were two hundred and fifty-seven hospitals or asylums for foundlings, of which two hundred and seventeen had the Revolving Cradles. Most of these were so placed that any one could deposit an infant without being seen. in a few cases they were watched; and whoever left a child was obliged to make himself known.

After it became to appear that the multiplication of these establishments increase the number of foundlings, wise men called for their abolition; but, like all rooted institutions, they found ardent defenders. Arguments and even stubborn facts, could not meet sentimental appeals, like that of Lamartine, who said of the Cradles, that “they have no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no tongue to betray the unfortunate mother, but they have welcoming arms for her babe.” [...]

The church, which found in these establishments a source of influence, and an employment for her servants, resisted all attempt to lessen their number and extent.

But the numerous evils and abuses engender in such un-natural families, and their unfavorable influence upon public morality, became so manifest, that great foundling hospices are no longer in favor. Three-quarters of the hospitals of France have been closed; and most of the Revolving Cradles abolished. Their place is being taken, their work is much better done, and their principal evils avoided,

First, by small establishments, calculated to lessen the temptations to abandonment of children, such as the creeches of France and Belgium; establishments which take charge of infants during the day while the mothers are at work.

Secondly, by societies for the care of orphans and abandoned children, the leading principle of which is opposed to the vicious one of aggregation, and favors separation and diffusion by boarding out the children among ordinary families….

Third, by temporary asylums, or transient homes, of which one of the best specimens is the Massachusetts Asylum, established last year at Dorchester, and now located in Brookline.” [...]

So well over a hundred years ago they determined the resolving cradle and foundling hospitals were wrong, and found that small establishments which take charge of infants during the day while the mothers are at work was the better solution.  This lesson was deemed so important as to be included in great detail in an official document for the state of Massachusetts.

Yet again, they are doing this revolting practice of revolving cradles, creating a business to deal with this with the bonus of supplying babies to PAPs lined up to get them and willing to pay huge sums of money.  They have chosen to ignore history and the lessons learned, and instead of using that advice in today’s reality of first providing birth control and family planning services, and then if all else fails and the mother and child cannot stay together, looking at adoption, while ensuring the child knows where, and who, they came from.

We know the impact on having your entire history hidden from you, the secrecy, lies, the physical impact of no knowledge of hereditary illnesses that are prevalent within your family.  I am against this practice and Europe of all places based on their own history should know better, and they are also choosing to ignore the treaty they signed.

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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Adoption, Ethics

 

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