January 3, 2006

Italy Retakes Lead In Baby Dumping Technology

Fending off stiff competition from Czech babydumping startups, the Italians appear to have regained their longheld place as the technology leader in the baby dropping off industry.

See, for centuries, until around 1888, Italian nun-run orphanages like the Ognissanti Church in Padova used a ruota dei trovatelli, or foundling wheel, a lazy susan-like contraption mounted on the side of the building into which mothers could place their unwanted children [or, as they used to say in the Old Country, bastardi]. Then they'd turn the wheel around, ring the bell, then run like crazy.

But since the advent of the Dumpster and the public park bench, foundling wheels fell on hard times. So a few years back, a Prague health clinic developed a "baby hatch," which as also been adopted [sic] in Germany, with very positive results.

Not to be outdone, a Paduan right-to-life group spent a couple of years developing the high-tech culla per la vita ["cradle for life"] near the same old orphanage. The cradle works like a bank deposit window [minus the vacuum tubes, I imagine] combined with a weight sensor, an automated warming pad, and a direct signal for social workers to come pick up the little bundle.

One group estimates that only 400 babies are abandoned in Italy each year; the rest live with their mothers until they're 45.

Baby Drop Box Gets Tech Upgrade [wired via dt reader ed]
Previously: Infant Dumpster? Baby Box

2 Comments

This is absolutely your funniest post of the year.

[considering the year just started, I don't quite know what to say, but thanks? -ed.]

Interesting post. And have you lived in Italy? You seem to know so much about its cultural habits. How many children are "dumped" in this country?

[actually, I only lived on the border of Italy, in France, so my self-affirming misconceptions are tinged with both French AND American nationalism. If you click through the links, you'll see that America is worse than a third world country when it comes to babydumping; the first article I linked to on this subject was an old Onion article about Giuliani cutting back on NYC's Infant Dumpster program. On a temporarily serious note, the US at least has a more hospitable climate for a woman to keep her baby--or to choose not to have it in the first place, for that matter--and it is far more successful at integrating immigrant populations that Italy, France, Germany, Holland, and on and on. Most of the current wave of trovatelli are African, Uktranian, and Albanian illegal immigrants who fear deportation if they go to a hospital to have their baby. And there's not much funny about that at all. -ed.]

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