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How could we find the parents of an orphan?

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Feb 01, 2022
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The problem
Baby dumping refers to parents leaving a child younger than 12 months in a public or private place with the intent of terminating their care for the child. These children are then called orphans. People usually abandon their kids due to hard financial situations, incurable diseases, or unstable mental states. No matter the cause, it is considered child abuse and people that anonymously abandon kids should be convicted as felony criminals and pay for their irresponsible behavior. Therefore, we need to find them.
What could be the benefits?
  • The parents who abandoned their kids could be found, financially obliged to help the kids, and potentially convicted, which could reduce the rate of child abandonment.
  • It could also make people act more responsibly when thinking (or not thinking) about children.
  • It could reduce the spending on foster care (in 2015, 9 billion USD was spent to support 427910 kids in foster care ).
How could we find parents of an abandoned child?
Would you look for some traces of blood, saliva, or samples of hair? But to whom would you compare that DNA? Is there any alternative?

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_abandonment

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_abandonment#:~:text=In%202015%2C%20it%20cost%20the%20United%20States%27%20government%20over%20%249%20billion%20to%20support%20427%2C910%20children%20who%20were%20in%20foster%20care.%5B31%5D

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Creative contributions

Start via 23andme

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Feb 01, 2022
You could find distant relatives via 23andme.com. That would help you pinpoint several potential locations where the parent could be from. Then go around those locations and ask random people to volunteer for a DNA test to help find more distant relatives for each orphan. If you're lucky you can find a closer match. Then research the entire family tree until you find someone who's willing to talk.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Also, you mentioned asking random people for a DNA test to help your research. That could be time-consuming and hard, especially if people felt like you are invading their privacy and being. Therefore, I propose a solution.
A random collection of samples for DNA analysis. Cigarette buds, cups, saliva, tissues, etc.
Why?
If we are interested in finding correlations between locations and DNA traits such as chromosomal aberrations, mutations, SNPs, and other genomic elements, or we just want to be able to tell you where do your distant relatives live, we could randomly collect and analyze DNA.
If combined with fingerprints, it could pave the way towards integrative DNA-fingerprint analyses.
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Manel Lladó Santaeularia
Manel Lladó Santaeularia4 months ago
J. Nikola Well, chromosomal aberrations normally cause extreme effects in the health of the individual, and generally preclude them from reproducing, so I would not really look for those. However we probably have enough information about these kinds of correlations (when it comes to SNPs and other variations like copy number variations) from projects like 1000 Genomes and such. Considering this, how exactly would a random collection of samples for DNA analysis help locate the parents of the child? I think it would be better if, apart from taking our fingerprints when we get a national ID, passport or driving license, we should also give a DNA sample. I think most countries are way behind on this when it is better for individual identification. If we had DNA databases for all the population, the problem would be solved immediately. I don't mean the problem of baby dumping, but the issue of not being able to identify the parents, of course.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Very interesting plan! 23andme or similar tools could be very useful here. What I am concerned about is how reliable and informative are these tools. Can they provide me with the names of my relatives or just approximate locations? I read on their webpage that they do not share information unless you sign the consent.
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Track the baby from pregnancy to vaccine shots

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Feb 02, 2022
Pregnant women usually visit the gynecologist. Upon their first visit, their pregnancy gets registered (along with the woman's ID) on an online database for the country (along with the gender of the baby; even though the parents want to keep it a surprise, the doctors know it and can mention it while registering). Only a doctor can and must register every patient and the doctor needs to provide their license number during each registration. This will add another level of safety and monitoring. The progress of the patient is tracked and every visit to the gynecologist is recorded on the patient profile on the website. After birth, the baby needs to take vaccines, which are spaced throughout the first 5 years (may be different from country to country). Every vaccine shot gets recorded on the portal. Abortions get recorded, too.
This enables two things:
  1. Successfully monitoring whether every baby has taken their necessary shots.
  2. If an orphan baby is found, it can be matched with the registered list of babies who have missed their shots. Moreover, the baby's gender and ethnicity can help further pinpoint its parents by matching its characteristics with those of the parents whose babies have missed the shots.
For misuse, the data can be erased when the baby has taken all its vaccines.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Great suggestion. I would maybe add to take into account any visits of parents and the baby to the doctor, with the date and detailed description of the visit. If the visit doesn't happen as scheduled, police and social service could be alarmed and found by your proposal. Plus, a great privacy concern-add-on at the end.
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Create an Online Portal Where People can Report if they Suspect Foulplay

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Feb 02, 2022
If your next door neighbour has a kid, you would probably know. And when, you suddenly can neither see nor hear that kid, the alarm bells might start ringing. Granted, there are several reasons why this might happen. However, I believe in the proverb "It's better to be safe than sorry."
Establishing an online portal where people can report when they suspect foulplay brings the community into play. Consequently, social workers can pay a visit to the family and establish what happened.
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Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
Apart from many suspicious grannies (or any slightly malevolent people) writing something because they are too paranoid, resentful, or just don't like their neighbors and causing a mess, this is a good idea. On the other hand, it's not always easy to distinguish when suspiciousness has any true basis, even for a logical, rational person, so I guess a lot of false alarms on such platform are simply inevitable, but perhaps that's the price for being "better safe than sorry".
Still, I wonder what percentage of true child abandonments such platform would help to prevent and would the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Okay, interesting proposal. It would be like reporting a child missing, but not to the police because you are not sure. One problem could be the fact that people abandon children when they are really young, just born. But could work as a community tool to fight child abandonment.
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The other way round: a designated DNA database to help parents and other relatives find a child

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Michaela D
Michaela D Feb 09, 2022
Sometimes parents are separated from their children without wanting to. This is more common for fathers. For example, the mother stops contact with the father and then she abandons the child. The father may still want to raise the child but they cannot find it.
In this case, the father can submit their DNA to a specific database for lost children. Foster care also uploads the DNA of orphan children on the same database. If there is a match the father can reunite with their child. It would work the same way for other relatives: grandparents, siblings, aunts, etc…
I suggest a specific database because I do not think you are allowed to upload a person’s DNA on sites like 23 and me without their consent. And it is complicated to prove the consent of a child. However, uploading data to a database just for the purpose of reuniting a child with relatives would be more easily accepted by law.
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General comments

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Michaela D
Michaela D4 months ago
I do not agree with the idea to force a parent to raise a child if they do not want to. It would do more harm than good to the child. I think the best we can do at this point is to encourage parents to leave their babies at care facilities instead of the street. This could be done by advertising child care facilities in areas with high rates of child abandonment. Like this, we ensure at least the babies do not die, to begin with. Also, if the parents want to come in contact with the child later they know where to find it. And they can also give their contact in case the child wants to find them later.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Michaela D I agree with you, as well as I agree with Darko Savic and Spook Louw who think the same as you.
People have a strong reason to abandon their children. My idea was not to force them to raise a child, because obviously, they are not capable. My idea was to find a way how to find them. Whatever happens next would be defined by the law, psychologists, doctors, and social workers. Facilities as you mentioned exist for children born with heavy mental or physical illnesses. Parents sometimes come back to visit them, but often never see their children. I know because I grew up next to one of those facilities and hung out with personnel.
In my opinion, if you decided to have a child and waited until it was born, to suddenly change your mind and abandon it, either in a specific facility or in the woods is (more or less) punishable. Returning a child to a parent would be crazy, I agree, but excluding the parent from the story is a social burden raised from their irresponsible behavior.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 months ago
People who are ready to abandon a baby might do something worse if abandoning was not an option. So effectively solving the parent identification might be dangerous. The solution might be incomplete unless it includes making it easier/faster for them to give the baby up for adoption.
I imagine such people fear social stigma in addition to going through all kinds of psychological trouble.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw4 months ago
Darko Savic I agree. Being obliged to financially support a child does not mean that these people will suddenly become good parents, and sending them to jail would still leave the child without a parent. Sometimes, it is in the best interest of the child to be given up to the care of the state.
Another problem is that often, the people who cannot raise a child also won't be easy to find. In South Africa, a large percentage of the babies that are "dumped" are children of illegal immigrants who cannot register their children into child protection services. Even people who are not living in a country illegally, but are homeless, can be difficult to identify as they often either have no family or no ties to their families.
This is not a problem I believe can be solved by simply finding the families. It will only be solved by improving the entire country's standard of living, making it easier for people to be able to get jobs and afford families and by reducing the number of rapes and eliminating social stigmas surrounding single parents in some cultures.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Spook Louw Darko Savic I agree with both of you. People abandon kids, as I already mentioned, for various reasons ranging from "harmless" poverty, homelessness, and teen "accidents" to more serious mental illnesses, disorders, rapes, or substance abuse. Although some of them seem legit and the problems you raised are serious, I think we are going a bit off-topic here.
My goal was to discuss finding new evidence- or genetically-based way how we could find parents of an abandoned child because, no matter the cause, it's a felony. In some countries it could be harder than in others, I agree, but that's a common problem and definitely deserves its own session. To refer to Spook Louw's last paragraph, that's not the problem I would try to solve here. If the person is eligible to be a parent or not is the problem of the center for social welfare (or hospitals, immigration offices, or police in cases of rapes, substance abuse, immigrant children, etc.).
Besides everything mentioned, people should really be responsible when deciding to have kids. There are lots of ways how to stop unwanted pregnancies and avoid child abandonment in the first place.
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