The “baby hatch” in Kumamoto, Japan is the only one in the country, and it is designed for just one purpose – to prevent Japanese parents from just abandoning babies that may not be wanted. Instead of leaving those babies on the streets, this institution “collects” these unwanted babies and allows the government to care for them. Since the system was installed in 2007, over 100 infants have been deposited into the hatch.
The system is directly under the supervision of the Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto. From the beginning of this year until the month of April, nine babies were left in the “hatch,” increasing the total number of babies left with the hospital to 101 since the year 2007. Data from the hospital shows that of the infants the system collected last year, eight babies were less than one month old, and some were actually barely a week old. Interestingly, and fortunately, all the dropped off babies were free of signs of physical abuse. Three parents also made the effort to leave a note as they left their child in the hatch.
The hospital had also released data in March 2012, this regarding all of the 81 infants left in their care starting in 2007. Over 60 of these kids have now been identified, and 13 of them have been reunited and are now living with their real parents. All of the other children are either living in child care facilities or in foster homes.
There has been a lot of criticism thrown at this system, saying that Japan may be encouraging parents to leave their children in the hands of the hospital without taking responsibility. But the system is mirrored with similar successful programs from Europe, where child abandonment is increasing. And with Japan’s population issues, children are one of the country’s most precious resources. A local government official said that because an alarm goes off every time a baby is put into the hatch, hospital workers – through an intercom system – always try to initiate a conversation with those leaving their children. The local government has also invested in posters and literature to encourage speaking with the city’s specialists before new parents decide to make use of the hatch.
[via Wall Street Journal]