New Chinese Baby Hatches Enable Safe Abandonment: Marvelous or Monstrous?

A tinkle of a soft bell and a quick wave goodbye are all that many Chinese mothers are leaving behind.

In response to more than 10,000 abandoned children every year, China has established 25 designated “baby hatches” scattered around the country where unwanted infants can safely be left behind. A parent simply places a child in the hatch, presses an alarm button and leaves; someone then retrieves the baby 10 minutes later to ensure anonymity of the parent.

It's reported that in Guangzhou, the "hatchery" recieved 79 babies in its first 15 days.

But because many of these children suffer from injuries or disabilities  one of main reasons parents decide to give them up  their newfound situation is raising questions as to what the best situation for their care might be.

The hatches have obviously sparked both outrage and encouragement, with heated disagreement lying between the two. One has to wonder though — does the establishment of this “loop hole” (abandoning a child is illegal in China) encourage an increase in orphans or will this prove to be a much safer possibility for the often-ill child? 

The undeniably bleak alternative isn't too appealing either unfortunately; the idea of a mother keeping a child that at her core doesn’t want — or worse, one which she is physically incapable of properly caring for — isn’t something that many of us would see as beneficial to anyone involved.

Parents abandoning their children is hardly a Chinese problem alone (Greece most recently came under fire) and it can be argued that not enough studies have been conducted to investigate the long-term effects of this often traumatic separation. It turns out one possible emerging pattern is the reluctance of abandoned women to marry later in life; but the source of this behavior (emotional or practical) is hard to pinpoint with any certainty as of yet.

With China taking the reigns in an effort to turn the tide of death (previously only 1 in 3 abandoned children survive on the country’s streets), it is hard to argue that something extreme must be done. How will this wave of government-sponsored youth affect the country over the long haul? Only time will tell.

Image: Wikimedia

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