Some days ago, a 2-year-old girl was found standing barefoot in a parking lot of a roadside inn in Chabany village. How could a small child, who does not even know her last name, appear alone on the road? The incident did not remain a mystery for long. It turned out that the mother of little Nastya left for another region and placed the child under care of her god mother, who in turn entrusted the girl to a homeless.

Does it speak about irresponsibility of Ukrainian parents? According to the statistics, this case is an isolated incident. The Healthcare Ministry states that Ukrainian mothers and fathers become more responsible, and the number of abandoned children reduces year after year. ForUm decided to find out motives and tendencies of the 'Cuckoo' behavior of Ukrainian women.

Portrait of a 'Cuckoo'

The Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine started to keep count of children abandoned in maternity hospitals only in 2004. Thus, in 2004, 1.5 thousand out of 415 thousand newborns were abandoned right after birth. In 2005, 1246 boys and girls were left in the Baby House. And the numbers kept falling with every passing year: 998 newborns - in 2006, 1027 children - in 2007, 909 - in 2008, 865 - in 2009, 719 - in 2010, 599 - in 2011. Last year the number of abandoned children made 566 out of 514 thousand newborns. Thus, comparing to 2004, the number of abandoned children has reduced threefold. Social workers say that children, left in maternity hospitals, have difficulties with socialization, and sometimes they do not know the simplest things: play with toys, answer to their names, crawl. Doctors in the hospital do not have time for such children, as they have sick patients to take care of, and if a newborn is healthy, the attention paid to him is minimal.

At the same time, the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine informs that it does not have information about motives of such shocking behavior of young mothers. "Reasons vary and do not have consistency. In most cases, it is a social factor," the press office of the department said and refused to comment on the situation. In Russia, however, the federal statistics service and specialists of the Laboratory of social policy have held a survey to learn the reasons why 'Cuckoo'-women abandon their children.

Thus, according to the data, 47% of women who abandoned their newborns in hospitals are rather young, under 24. They also have low-level of education: 60% have finished the secondary school, and only 9% studied or keep studying in an institute. At the same time, experts note that age is not a dominating factor - in 36% of case women are over 30 and already have other children.

Only 40% grew up in secured family, but only 27% of these families were two-parent. Thus, the absolute majority of these women (73%) have never experienced living in a traditional and secured family. Third part of the women, who abandoned their children right after giving birth, do not have stable relations with their partners: only 17% are married, only a third part actually lives with a husband or partner, and 21% do not have a regular partner at all. The major part of women - about 55% - has not been working or studying for a long time and is maintained by someone else. Those who work, though, are employed unofficially and cannot count on paid maternity leave.

As for the reasons of abandoning, in 20% of cases it is "ill-being", which includes various dependences (alcohol, drugs), asocial lifestyle (vagrancy, prostitution), living with dependents, domestic violence. In 17% of cases women abandon their children because they do not have relatives or friends, who can help. The father, as a rule, is not ready to take care of his child and leaves the woman after having learned about her pregnancy. These are lonely women who often do not have own dwelling and live from hand to mouth. About 16% of women abandon newborns believing that their families will not accept them.

In 13% of cases women abandon their children due to some stunning blow, happened during pregnancy - break in relations with child's father, death of a relative, etc. A special group - about 8% - includes women, who do not want to interrupt their career progress or change their lifestyle. In particular, this group includes students who do not want to leave studies; women who are afraid to lose a well-paid job, as well as women who expect children not from husbands. The smallest category of women - about 5-10% - include mothers who abandon children due to congenital pathology.

Considering the data, the common portrait of a woman who may abandon her child after birth is as follows: young woman under 24, who does not strive for higher education, does not have stable relations with child's father and most probably does not know about contraception methods. It is a shame that none of the world surveys has any data about fathers of abandoned children, as there are always two people, participating in conception. Public judgment is usually aimed at a woman, who is afraid to warp her life, but not at a man, who has left the mother of his child alone with problems.

It is all about the money?

Psychologist and analyst Olena Bohatyryova believes that the decrease in number of abandoned children is owed to increased financial state support. "Reduction of abandonment rate is owed to the increased government allowance. The matter concerns social factors, not psychological. I work with many social services, thus I understand the specifics of the problem," she says.  At the same time the psychologist says that increasing social standards have their flaws. "Look who give birth nowadays. Women from lower socio-economic groups have children just for money, and having received the allowance they abandon them in foster homes," she says.

State maternity allowances in Ukraine include one-time payment of 9720 hryvnias and 810 hryvnias monthly for two years if the child is the first in the family; one-time payment of 9720 hryvnias and 1012.5 hryvnias monthly for four years for the second child; one-time payment of 9720 hryvnias and 1485 hryvnias monthly for six years for the third child.

In the world psychology it is believed that reduction of the abandonment rate is a sign of society's recovery. Citizens of a state, where such tendency is observed, feel securer and believe in stability. It concerns both global situations (no war will happen tomorrow) and everyday cases (tomorrow I will still have my job). It also will not hurt to have a man who recognizes his child and helps to bring him up.

They say such decision is individual, but young mothers also need to be sure to have money tomorrow to buy diapers. Society support is of no less importance, as well as examples of other women, even such busy Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie. Modern women have time to continue their careers and bring up both own and adopted children simultaneously. As the saying goes, when there's a will there's a way.

Tetyana Hryhoriyeva


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