Everything You Should Know About Parental Abandonment
In most states, parental abandonment of a child is considered a cause of action. A court has the ability to terminate the parental rights of the parent and allow the child to be adopted. In criminal context, abandonment can also include failing to provide the child with general necessities to be healthy.
In many states such as California, not providing your child with shelter, medical attention, food or clothing is considered parental abandonment. Parents may also be punished for these actions.
Safe Haven Laws
Due to several high profile cases in the end of the 1990s, baby abandonment issues came to a head. Because of these dramatic events, 38 states passed safe haven laws. These laws allow new mothers to leave babies that are unwanted and unharmed in designated safe locations. Examples of these drop off places are fire stations, hospitals and licensed child placing agencies. While time frames vary from states to state, most are within 72 hours of birth all the way up to 1 year old.
In a civil context, parental abandonment usually causes the court to facilitate adoption. Various guidelines are employed by different states to decide if a child has indeed been abandoned. On the grounds for abandonment, a petitioner has to prove disregard for parental duties, responsibilities or obligations. They also need to establish that the parent permanently wishes to avoid these duties.
Some jurisdictions do require a parental intention to relinquish their rights however, most courts will step in and determine parental abandonment regardless of the parent's intentions.
Adopting An Abandoned Child
While adopting can be a life-changing and joyous experience, adopting a child who has been a victim of parental abandonment is exceptionally rewarding. However, the decision to do so should be done with special education, understanding and awareness.
Typically, an abandoned child has been left on a doorstep or in a public building. They are then moved to institutionalism where they spend their life waiting to be adopted. When choosing to adopt such a child, you also need to be prepared to raise someone with attachment disorders. These children have not been given a normal start with a maternal bond in their life and those types of emotional scars do not just go away.
Questions To Ask Yourself
If you are considering adopting a child who is the result of parental abandonment, you need to ask yourself a few questions first to make sure that you are really ready for the commitment. A child is no better off being placed in a home and feeling as though they are not wanted or the procedure was a mistake.
- How would you feel if you were abandoned?
- Would you have behavioral problems if you went through this and are you prepared to deal with the child's issues?
- Do you fully understand the effects of institutionalism?
- Do you have a support system to help you?
- Will you be prepared to communicate positively and honesty with your child if they have questions regarding their abandonment.
- Will you support your child should he or she feel the need to find and make contact with their biological roots.
- Can you accept development or learning delays that your child may have?
- Did the child experience severe neglect, abuse or suffer from malnutrition?
- How would such an event shape your personality? Are you ready to handle a child who may be withdrawn?
While orphanages today do try their hardest to provide each child with a positive experience, an orphanage is simply not the ideal place for a child to start their life. They are forced to develop coping skills because they lack emotional attachment and then with time, their personality becomes molded by this survival mode.