Adoption of Handicapped Children

Mary Louise Amend, Fordham University


Historical Background of the Study. The problem of dependent children has been common to all cultures in every era of history. In early civilizations it was usually solved by one of three methods: infanticide, abandonment, or adoption. Interestingly enough, one cultural group often resorted to all three systems simultaneously, depending upon the particular situation at hand. Folk tales all over the world deal with children who have been abandoned or driven away either for economic reasons, social reasons or for fear of fulfillment of a prophecy. Shame of deformity, illegitimacy, incest and the superstitious fears of the abnormal have often caused parents and tribal leaders to abandon children. Usually infants were abandoned where they possibly would have a chance to survive — where they might be picked up by a stranger before death from starvation or from attack by wild animals. The theme runs through many an old folk tale and emerges into World Literature. In fact, the exposure of the hero, in infancy, has come to be regarded as one of the identifying marks of the true hero of folktale, myth and legend. Only when death is definitely desired, as in cases of gripping superstition, do we hear of children abandoned where they are unlikely to be found. This practice is known as exposure.

Subject Area

Social research|Social studies education|Social work

Recommended Citation

Amend, Mary Louise, "Adoption of Handicapped Children" (1955). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30670848.