Am I a foundling?

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Henri De Ceredigion
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Location: Llanon, Ceredigion, Wales

Am I a foundling?

Postby Henri De Ceredigion » Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:21 pm

When I was born in 1974, I was adopted by my grandparents almost straight away as my mother couldn't afford to bring me up (thanks to a certain thing called the Oil Crisis) and my father simply vanished. Having read some books about people whose parents have either both died, or the mother has given the child up for adoption, I would like to know whether this makes me a foundling (and if it does not, is there a term for what I am?)

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Am I a foundling?

Postby Brother Ranulf » Sat Jun 21, 2014 9:40 pm

It's an interesting question and I don't know that there is a specific answer.

Middle English founden plus -ling simply means something small that has been found [so: an abandoned child], but some definitions add that it is a child whose parents are not known. Where this fits in the etymology I can't say; other sources seem to imply that the child must be deliberately left with strangers (such as at the door of a convent) but this may be influenced by popular fiction stories in books and on screen.

UK law seems to be ambivalent about child abandonment: "Under section 27 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 the law states that any mother who abandons a child less than two years of age is a criminal and can face up to five years' imprisonment. In practice, such prosecutions are extremely rare and would only occur if the circumstances of child abandonment showed actual malice, i.e. appeared deliberately intended to result in the death of the child. A mother who wishes to have her newborn baby adopted can do so. Counseling is designed to ensure that giving up the baby is her genuine, irrevocable wish."

On that basis you would be an adopted child, but it could also be argued that in the strict original sense of the word you are also a foundling.

Brother Ranulf

"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

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