Haitian Parents Abandon Kids in Droves

Earthquake's devastation the last straw for many

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 10, 2010 10:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – 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."

In this April 14, 2010, a toddler who was orphaned in the earthquake is lifted onto a couch by one of his adoptive family members.
In this April 14, 2010, a toddler who was orphaned in the earthquake is lifted onto a couch by one of his adoptive family members.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this April 14, 2010 photo, children who where either orphaned or abandoned play on the playground at a SOS Children's Village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
In this April 14, 2010 photo, children who where either orphaned or abandoned play on the playground at a SOS Children's Village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this April 16, 2010 photo, orphaned and abandoned children wait for new shoes at the SOS Children's Village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
In this April 16, 2010 photo, orphaned and abandoned children wait for new shoes at the SOS Children's Village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this April 14, 2010 photo, a toddler who was orphaned in the earthquake at one of several dozen homes for orphaned and abandoned children at SOS Children's Village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
In this April 14, 2010 photo, a toddler who was orphaned in the earthquake at one of several dozen homes for orphaned and abandoned children at SOS Children's Village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In this April 22, 2010 photo, 1-year-old Erode, who was found abandoned in a dumpster, plays with Sandra at the Enfant Jesus orphanage in Malpasse, Haiti.
In this April 22, 2010 photo, 1-year-old Erode, who was found abandoned in a dumpster, plays with Sandra at the Enfant Jesus orphanage in Malpasse, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this April 16, 2010, an abandoned youth, right, sits with his brother and sister as he waits to be taken back to live with relatives after living for several weeks at SOS Children's Village outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
In this April 16, 2010, an abandoned youth, right, sits with his brother and sister as he waits to be taken back to live with relatives after living for several weeks at SOS Children's Village outside...   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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It's very tough, but we need to concentrate our efforts on the neediest cases. Obviously if you have family, your situation is less needy than that of a child that has no one. - SOS orphanage spokeswoman spokeswoman Line Wolf-Nielsen

I don't have a job. I can't afford to take them back, but I have to. I think it's better for us to have left them there (at the orphanage). - Jean-Phillipe Turenne, 22-year-old brother to three boys who were told to lie about their last name to avoid being reunited with their family

These children have won the jackpot to get to be here. If I was living in a tent, I, too, would try to get my child here. - Indiana-based child psychologist Mary Kate Bristow

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