Abandoned Infants

My busy morning was interrupted by a detective who called to tell me of yet another infant abandonment just hours after birth. He asked several questions, struggling to understand the case that he was investigating. He wanted a possible profile or description of a woman who abandons. He described, too graphically, the fresh-born infant, blood not yet coagulated, left in a dumpster, with a rope around the neck--strangled. He said he’d worked homicide many years and had seen everything, but this was the worst.

We were in conversation when a reporter from the Associated Press called. I referred the detective to a psychiatrist in our organization. The reporter wanted my comments on the same case. I didn’t have the words or the ability to express the solemnity of that event.

I asked her: How do you describe what can be an estimated 5,000 women/parents who abandon their infants and children each year? Deeply troubled addicts, prostitutes, poor, middle class, white, young, black, old, homeless, unwanted themselves, abandoned. Please, I said, what you must write about is the greater tragedy. This could have been prevented.

I am mad that detectives and editors have become the shock jocks of child abuse stories, telling only when these events take on a seemingly aberrant twist, such as an infant abandoned on an airliner or found with a rope around the neck. Their fervor to catch a commercially valuable headline or a criminal to punish is sad. Where is their fervor to help the thousands of women in crisis today who won’t be helped and will abandon another infant tomorrow?


Executive director, Parent Help U.S.A.