The catastrophic earthquake that left at least 1.3 million Haitians homeless was the final straw for families that could barely afford to feed their children before. Now with aid dwindling, Haitian families are abandoning their children in skyrocketing numbers in the hope of offering them a better life—a 4-day-old girl left in a cardboard box outside a hospital, a 3-year-old holding a bag of folded underwear and a note, toddlers dropped off in hospital waiting rooms.
Haitian law requires that orphanage authorities do everything they can to reunite children with their birth families. Post-quake, that has often involved reuniting kids with families that do not want them back—or children who don't want to return, like 13-year-old Simon, who was crying at being reunited with his family. "If I go back with my big sister, I won't be able to go to school. She's going to make me sell water in the street—like I was doing before. I'll go back to a hard life."