Unwanted Children in Hungary Draw Attention Abroad

Article excerpt

Fifty-four infants have been reported killed in the past two years by parents who could not afford them. In response, the Agost Schoepf-Merei maternity hospital in Budapest put an incubator at its entrance where mothers can anonymously leave unwanted babies.

None has been left since the incubator was set up in May. But Dr. Gyoergy Garamvoelgyi, the hospital administrator, says it will stay as a "symbol for potential infant-killer mothers that there is an alternative."

The surplus of unwanted children has drawn the attention of childless couples abroad who see Hungary as a source of adoptable children since neighboring Romania clamped down on adoptions by foreigners. According to regulations, if a child cannot be placed in Hungary, he or she can be offered for adoption by foreigners through registered adoption agencies. Only about 100 Hungarian children ended up with foreign parents last year, but the tabloid press has extensively played stories on often high-cost foreign adoptions and on allegations of baby trafficking. The news that a New Jersey baby broker called East-West Concepts Inc. was exhibiting pictures of Hungarian children on the Internet created a scandal here. "I see that it is easier to advertise children on the Internet than to follow the traditional process of trying to find adoptive parents for them, but they are not animals to be put on show," said Karoly Gaspar, a department head of the Health and Welfare Ministry. But the work of East-West Concepts also points to a problem many Hungarians do not like to talk about. Janos Samu, the Hungarian-born head of East-West Concepts, said about 95 percent of the children listed by his agency are the offspring of Gypsies, who are largely ostracized in Hungary. …