From Oidipodas’ time, whose parents abandoned him in Kithairona Mountain so that Pythia’s oracle would not be true, up to the Moses myth, whose Israeli mother placed him on a papyrus on the Niles’ edges so that the Pharaoh’s of Egypt daughter could find him, history has shown that the phenomenon of infant abandonment has been a repeating reality. The practice of infant abandonment right after their birth is a phenomenon involving a variety of motives depending on several socio-economic factors. Nevertheless, in the recent years there has been a rising interest in illustrating the reasons for the persistence of this phenomenon in contemporary society, despite changes in its structure and norms.
Aim: The aim of the present study is to investigate the infant abandonment phenomenon, the factors leading a mother to abandon her infant, as well as the available ways to deal with this issue, within European countries and United States of America.
Methods: The study methods included the evaluation of published retrospective and research studies on infant abandonment, causes of this phenomenon, factors leading to abandonment and possible solutions within European countries and United States of America. We also included a literature review in MEDLINE and CINAHL databases (1990-2009).
Results: Infant abandonment is a complicated issue involving parental and children rights. It involves the fundamental children’s right to live with their families and know their roots of origin. Mothers abandoning their children are under great psychological distress, they possibly suffer from mental disorders or they are often victimized both in their personal and social life. In the fight against infant abandonment, it is essential to secure a woman’s right to freely choose the time to become a mother and to provide all the social and financial support needed for a new mother and her child.
Key words: abandoned infants, infant abandonment in Europe and the United States of America.