Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

The plight of 'too-disposable children'

13 comments
Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

How easy would it be to foster or even adopt the two-year-old and eleven-month-old left by their mother overnight during the weekend?

Like many people, I have often wondered what it would take, when confronted by stories that simply seem to defy logic and common decency.

First off, you read the story in open-mouth horror. But you strive to give the mother the benefit of the doubt - perhaps she had to work, or go out for something extraordinary that required her attention.

Then you read the details: RTD alcoholic drinks, condoms and some chips. Left in the portable cot of an 11-month-old baby boy.

A bed made up to look as though someone was there.

A two-year-old crying in the front yard at 2am.

Overcoming your innate liberal bias, you have to eventually admit that something very wrong has to be at the heart of this picture.

And then - again like many other people - you wonder what you can do.

About this case and so many more like it.

About how it all seems so hopeless and how society will never be able to prevent a portion of children encountering squalor and neglect.

About how, despite all the fundraising for Plunket you do and all the money you donate to worthy causes, these things seem all too commonplace - still - in our newspapers and other media reports.

You wonder if you could do something even more direct to help these children. Like run in, pick them up, and run away with them. Much like you'd like to do with the crayfish piled on top of one another at a Chinese restaurant.

Of course, it is at one level, a fantasy. Even if you did manage to adopt the children, a fairytale ending would not be likely.

It is possible, if not highly probable, that the neurons in the brain of any two-year-old that has encountered neglect might not be firing properly because no one has responded with consistent love and affection to him or her.

The effects of neglect are long lasting and heart breaking, with all the will in the world from loving foster and adoptive parents.

Then there is every possibility that the child would - if fostered - be returned to the very family that has sat by and allowed the neglect to fester.

The Hamilton pair, for example, are already possibly headed back to the same household. This has to be the worst aspect of fostering children, and one that I think must put many well intentioned people off the idea.

But those who persist - particularly those who take older children - are heroes.

They deserve every support and encouragement and perhaps there should be less ability to return children to toxic environments to encourage more of us to join their ranks.

I would love to foster a child, but I'm not sure I'm up to the task.

Perhaps I could simply join the line of people wanting to take the relatively unscathed infants - like the one found, on the same day, dumped in an airline rubbish bin in the Philippines.

Having been abandoned at birth, the tiny, unwanted newborn has a slight and strange advantage in the stakes of all-too-disposable children.

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