It's raining, and a mother is carrying a baby in a basket. The baby is wrapped up in a blanket, but is obviously a main character. The mother may or may not be kept anonymous by a cloak.
So the mother goes up to a doorstep, puts the baby down, may or may not add a letter and/or an Orphan's Plot Trinket, rings the doorbell and slips quietly into the night. The door is opened by the child's adoptive parents, who are always fully accepting of the baby and their new roles as parents instead of contacting the authorities (and it just so happens that someone is always home and awake to answer the door, thus sparing the baby from dying of exposure). Cut to several years later.
This title is a pun on Doorstep Baby, and is not to be confused using a baby as a doorstop. For that, you're looking for Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
Also known as a Foundling. Often causes Changeling Fantasy. See also Parental Abandonment, Missing Mom.
Lead-in to Moses in the Bullrushes and Muggle Foster Parents.
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Anime & Manga
The eponymous Candy from Candy Candy and her best friend Annie were left on the doorstep of the orphanage "Pony Home" when they were babies.
There is a variety in Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran, where Meow finds a baby in a basket outside of a restaurant. She's at a complete loss at first, but soon gets very attached, leading to her being heartbroken when she has to return the baby to its family.
A short story arc in Gintama starts with this (see picture). The baby, however, looks very similar to Gintoki, and the note that came with the baby seems to implicate him in an affair, which everyone assumes is the truth despite his protestations.
Sadaharu might also count, even though he's a giant dog.
The central plot device in Satoshi Kon's Tokyo Godfathers. The heroes, three homeless bums of Tokyo (a runaway teenage girl, an ex-Drag Queen and a Jerk with a Heart of Gold drunkard), are rummaging through a trash heap on Christmas Eve when they find a newborn baby in the trash, along with a key to a locker. The Wholesome Crossdresser promptly adopts her and names her "Kiyoko" as they set off to find her parents (and give them a severe scolding). It turns out the baby girl was kidnapped from the hospital she was born in by a mentally ill woman who had lost her own baby... and not only that, but she is the runaway girl's baby sister.
Honey Honey, of Honey Honey No Suteki Na Bouken. Actually a variation on this trope, as Honey is left not at someone's door but in a field in the springtime, surrounded by honeybees - which is where she got her name from - and subsequently brought up in a (presumably Catholic) convent. Her cat Lily was also abandoned, and as Honey explains in the first episode, that's why she and her cat are so close.
One episode of Pumpkin Scissors has the eponymous unit searching for the mother of one such baby after everybody except Corporal Oland fails to pacify it.
In the Cyborg 009 2001 series, a Catholic priest found a dying single mother and her healthy baby boy in the doorsteps of his church. He took the baby in, and he grew up to become Joe Shimamura aka 009.
Berserk: Has a rather dark version of this trope. A newborn Guts was found under the hung corpse of his mother, umbilical cord still attached. For a moment his discoverers (a band of mercenaries) thought he was a stillbirth... until their leader knocked him out of the arms of his girlfriend who went and picked him up, knocking baby Guts into a puddle and making him cry. It only gets worse for him after that. (It's believed that the manner of his birth left him cursed.)
Domo begins with the eponymous creature's egg being left outside the hole to Mr. Usaji's home before it rolls down there and hatches.
Happens in one episode of Best Student Council, prompting the girls to go out in search of the baby's mother.
Flute, from Violinist of Hameln, was left in some villager's doorstep on a snowy day by, supposedly, a dying soldier of her country, Sforzando. Subverted in that the house's owner refused to open the door, and the villagers who passed by the screaming baby in a basket purposefully averted their eyes; it was the Elder of Staccato who finally picked her up and took her home.
An episode of the Black Jack TV series has a gangster schoolgirl and her friends stealing a locker key from a woman - and finding a baby boy inside of it. The girl takes the baby to Black Jack's house, who treats him but says he's very malnourished and sick already. The rest of the episode has the girl trying to deal with her growing affection towards the boy...
This is based on a chapter of the manga (where the baby was a girl), which was in turn Ripped from the Headlines (there was, in fact, an inexplicable rash of babies being abandoned in coin lockers in Japan back in the '70s).
Kazuki Kinukawa from Detective Conan was this, after his mother left him in the doorstep of a Catholic church in Tokyo. In a subversion, she sent him unsigned postcards from Atami, the place where she lived... until few ago. Then Kazuki hired Kogoro to go calling the old woman out...
Superman is arguably an instance of this trope. Of course, in this case, the doorstep is Kansas, and the note's either missing or undecipherable. In some versions it's more the Moses thing, with Kal-El being shot "to wherever", but, in most versions, Kal-El was deliberately and specifically sent to Earth, which makes it a deliberate placing, just with an added multimillion light year shot-put effect in between (rather than laid on the doorstep, he was chucked there). There is even at least one incarnation where Jor-El sends Kal-El specifically to Kansas.
The Silver Age Flash was published for more than a decade before the Flash and his wife Iris discovered that Iris had actually been born in the far future to time-traveling parents who abandoned her as an infant on the doorstep of a 20th-century couple. Iris's 20th-century parents had never told her that she was a foundling, and they never suspected that she was from the future. Eventually, Iris was reunited with her next-millennium parents. This plot development was followed for a while, then dropped, and most readers either forgot about it or assumed that it had been retconned out of existence. When Iris was murdered in the 1980s, no mention was made of her far-future origins. A couple of years later, when the Flash comic book was due to be cancelled, Flash was apparently killed ... but a twist ending revealed that he and Iris were both still alive in the distant future with Iris's parents.
Skeezix Wallet, in Frank King's Gasoline Alley, was left on Walt Wallet's doorstep as an infant. More than a decade later, Walt Wallet acquired a girl named Judy in the same manner.
Astérix finds a baby on his doorstep at the beginning of Asterix and Son. It turns out he's Caesarion (full name Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar), son of Cleopatra and Caesar.
Each Home Wanted By A Baby! strip begins with the same baby being found on a doorstep and ends with the baby leaving because he does not like his new home.
Swee' Pea wasn't left on a doorstop- he was delivered to Popeye in the mail. In fact, due to being in a box when delivered, Popeye thought the sound of his rattle meant there was a snake in the package, and was prepared to shoot the thing until he heard crying.
A version of this is the beginning of Quasimodo's life in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Frollo is so disgusted by the child's appearance that he is about to drop him down a well... but the Archdeacon of Notre Dame Cathedral informs him that killing an innocent child, even a deformed one, will certainly lead to damnation. In the face of that, Frollo has no choice. Interestingly, in the book Frollo was the archdeacon of Notre Dame, as well as being not quite such a bastard. So it's kind of like he got split apart and his better three-eighths popped out of the cathedral to restrain him from infanticide.
Variation: in Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung is left on the doorstep of the Jade Palace in perfectly beautiful weather, and we never see or are told who the mother was or why she abandoned him. And far from growing up to discover his secret special heritage or be raised by someone who does not understand his uniqueness, the snow leopard finds his glory and power right there in training to be a kung fu warrior, something his adoptive father Shifu embraces wholeheartedly (and apparently a bit too well) when he discovers the cub's aptitude for it.
Also done in the sequel. Po's father tells the story of how he found him in a radish box from the vegetable order delivered to him. He waited for someone to come by, but when no one came, he adopted Po.
This is also part of Master Tigress's backstory, being left at an orphanage until she was eventually adopted by Shifu. Kung Fu Panda apparently loves this trope.
This happens to Kris in Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. The Burgermeister's guard is taking him to an orphanage, but he blows away in a snowstorm. He is then left with the Kringle Elves to avert the Winter Warlock.
At the very beginning of Dinosaur, Aladar's egg is delivered to Lemur Island by a Pterodactyl who apparently found said egg floating in a river just right after an Oviraptor dropped it, who apparantly stole the egg while his mother was trying to protect her nest from the film's Big Bad, Carnotaurus.
The live-action movie Little Man has a gangster who is supposed to be able to pass for a baby leave himself at someone's doorstep.
Basically, it's a live-action ripoff of the Bugs Bunny cartoon below.
Happened in the Super Mario Bros. movie, in an opening scene. Daisy's mother leaves her (in an egg... yeah) at a chapel in Brooklyn, along with a meteorite shard, which Daisy later wears as a necklace. Yes, Samantha Mathis plays a Reptite. Sounds good already, doesn't it?
This happens in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, where a baby is born old and ages backwards. The baby's mother died in childbirth, making the father swear that he'll have a place in the world. When the father gets a glimpse of his child, he's horrified and repulsed, and runs out the door with it. He seems to be about to throw the baby into a river when a policeman scares him away, so he leaves him on the doorstep of an old people's home. Unusually for this trope, not only do the people running the place not notice until they nearly step on him, but later the father meets and recognizes his son.
John from Charlie Chaplin's The Kid is an interesting example. His mother left him in the car of a wealthy family, complete with a letter. When the criminals who stole the car discovered the baby, they dropped it off in an alley next to a trash can, where Charlie finds him.
Three Men And A Baby (both the original French movie and American remake) starts with the baby being left on their doorstep.
In Spaceballs, Lone Starr told Princess Vespa he was placed on a doorstep of a monastery and raised by monks. The only knowledge of his parents is a medallion with an unknown message carried with him.
Does it seem to you that anyone would take a newborn baby and row over it, until it was bruised black, cut off its hand, and leave it out in a bitter night on the steps of a charity home, to the care of strangers? That's what somebody did to me
in Film/Stalag17, one of the PO Ws receives a letter from his wife saying that she "found" a baby that happens to look a lot like her. (Her husband had been away fighting for more than a year.)
Live Action TV
In the Mash episode "Yessir, That's Our Baby", a baby girl fathered by an American G.I. is abandoned by her Korean mother at the 4077th M*A*S*H. After the doctors try, unsuccessfully, to send the infant to the United States, they follow Father Mulcahy's advice and deposit her at a nearby monastery via a foundling wheel.
Grey's Anatomy has had a similar episode. Since that show's set in a hospital, that should've been interesting.
While not as Anvilicious, Joan of Arcadia had an episode dealing with an abandoned baby. A "safe haven" law is referenced during a discussion.
On The Golden Girls, Rose tells of having been left in a basket at an orphanage... along with some beefsticks, cheeses, and "some kind of cracker that didn't go with anything." She's Minnesotan, for those who find this scenario confusing.
A Minnesotan explains the joke: It's called a "cracker barrel", generally used for those occasions where full-blown catering would be too much but food is still expected. The crackers never seem to be right for the cheese.
The final episode of Lois and Clark ends with the discovery of such a baby (wrapped in a Superman logo blanket) in L&C's living room. How it got there without Clark (who has super-hearing) hearing something is never explained. It was supposed to be the starting point for the fifth season, but the show was cancelled.
Legendarily, each version/remake of telenovelaCristal has the younger heroine being abandoned at a nunnery as a baby, only to grown up and unknowingly become the rival/main obstacle of her own mother.
dinnerladies' Anita left her baby on the fire escape. Everyone thought it was Bren's.
In one episode of MacGyver, Jack Dalton finds a baby, allegedly his son, in the cockpit of his plane.
In one episode of Bottom, Eddie claims to have been left on a doorstep by his mother with her old service revolver and a note saying "Please look after my baby... I can't be bothered."
The sisters find one in one episode of Charmed. It turns out that the father's family was being tormented by a demon, and he hoped the child would be safe if given to another family instead.
Dawn is an interesting spin on this concept in Buffy the Vampire Slayer- not only is she more of a Doorstop Teenager than anything else, no one remembers the actual doorstopping. Also, her back story bears this out: the monks guarded her when she was nothing but pure energy, but once Glory the hellgod got wind of that, they turned the Key into a fourteen-year-old human and packed her off to the Slayer with a handy back story (read: pile of fake memories for everyone involved), certain that Buffy would protect the Key if she thought it was a sibling. Of course, Buffy being Buffy, she keeps Dawn under her protection even after she finds out the deception, arguing that in her mind, Dawn is her sister even if the monks say they made her up.
Stephanie Mills, introduced in season 9 of All in the Family, is a variation of this trope. While not an actual baby (she was about 9 years old when first introduced), she was left on the Bunkers' doorstep by her alcoholic father, who also happened to be Edith's nephew.
The pilot episode of The Waltons had a six-year-old deaf-mute girl left on the Waltons' doorstep by her mother after the father - mistakenly believing her to be mentally retarded - threatened to have her institutionalized.
In the episode "Safe Haven" of Criminal Minds, a woman left her thirteen-year-old son at a hospital (see the Real Life section for how this was possible) because he was severely unhinged and she was afraid of him.
In the episode "Soul Mates", the cop of the week asked where they found Reid. Rossi joked that he was left in a basket of the steps of the FBI.
In Smallville, Jor-El sent his son Kal-El to Smallville because the Kent family helped him when he visited Earth and Harmon Kent (Jonathan's father) assured Jor-El that he could always count on the Kents if he needed anything.
Rizzoli & Isles: In "Melt My Heart to Stone", Lydia leaves her baby on Maura's doorstep.
The title character of the Harry Potter books follows this trope, left by Albus Dumbledore (with some help from Rubeus Hagrid, and the reluctant approval of Minerva McGonagall) on his aunt's doorstep, with a letter. The book makes it clear they knew the Dursleys were home when they left him, but unlike many versions of this trope, the Dursleys didn't exactly welcome Baby Harry into their homes with open arms. In one of the many parallels between the mortal enemies the same happened to Voldemort except he was left with an orphanage.
This trope applies to the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Quasimodo is abandoned outside Notre Dame and Frollo takes him in out of kindness.
In the Discworld novel Thief of Time, both Lobsang Ludd and Jeremy Clockson were left on doorsteps as infants (Jeremy at the Clockmaker's Guild, and Lobsang at the Thieves' Guild before he was discovered in his late teens by the History Monks). It turns out they're brothers,in a manner of speaking.
Keith Laumer did this, although in his version the baby was a huge insect- or crustacean-looking thing and it took the army with lots of artillery to kill it — and then they decoded the message which read, "Please take good care of my little girl." Somewhere between Tear Jerker and Squick there.
The Jacqueline Wilson novel Dustbin Baby, about a Doorstop Baby (actually found abandoned in a bin, as the title suggests) who sets out to trace her past on the day of her 14th birthday.
Inverted in a short story in Highlights. A man who has recently come into a large amount of money discovers that it has been cursed, and the only way to lift the curse is to give the money away. He leaves the money, wrapped in a cloth, on the doorstep of an orphanage. The orphanage matron, upon seeing the bundle, assumes it to be a baby before she gets a closer look at the contents.
In the YA novel Unwind, set in a future where birth control is banned, babies may legally be abandoned on a doorstep — a practice known as "storking". As you may imagine, this is a Deconstruction of sorts of the trope- what if the family doesn't want the baby? question is answered disturbingly: One of the main characters relates a past experince in which his family recived a "storked" baby, only to drop it off on the neighbour's doorstep at night (the rule is, if no one sees you doing it, it's not your baby). Then the neighbours do the same thing. And their neighbours. And their neighbours. The baby died.
In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions, the protagonist, Holger Carlsen, was found abandoned in a courtyard as a baby. It turns out that he's not really from around here, though he doesn't know it.
"Believe it or not," he grinned, "I really vas the baby in the cartoons, you know, the vun left on the doorstep. I must have been only a few days old ven I vas found in a courtyard in Helsingør. That's the very pretty place you call Elsinore, Hamlet's home town. I never learned vere I came from. Such happenings is very rare in Denmark, and the police tried hard to find out, but they never did."
Alianora was also found abandoned and raised by dwarves.
In the book The Children On The Top Floor, a television personality makes a Christmas Eve speech in which he says he envies all the families out there with children... and in the morning he finds four babies left on his doorstep.
This is Otto's backstory in the HIVE Series, being left outside an orphanage. The narrative mentions the staff are used to dealing with this kind of situation.
Twig in The Edge Chronicles was abandoned in a woodtroll village. His parents had no choice; if they hadn't left him they would have had to walk back home through the Deepwoods, where all three would likely have perished.
The title character of the Cat Royal series was left on the steps of the Theatre Royal as a toddler. She mentions that the theatre owner, Mr Sheridan, probably only took her in because he was a bit drunk at the time.
Florida and Dallas from Ruby Holler were abandoned on the steps of an orphanage in a crate containing travel brochures, hence their names.
Twenty Years After, the sequel to The Three Musketeers, establishes that Aramis' ex-girlfriend slept with Athos while thinking he was a priest (it makes more sense in context), and left the resulting child on the priest's doorstep. Athos heard about it and adopted his own son, Raoul.
In The Godsend, this is how the Marlowe family end up with Bonnie, sort of: The Marlowes met Bonnie's mum and took her into their home, she gave birth during the night and left her daughter at the doorstep.
The only thing anybody knows about Ambrosio's origins in The Monk.
In the world of Team Human, where vampires live openly among humans, people sometimes leave unwanted babies on vampire doorsteps to be quietly disappeared. Kit was one of these babies, but the family adopted him instead.
A baby is found in a capsule in Galaxy of Fear: Army of Terror. No one knows where he's from and the best clue anyone has is that the Big Bad had him there for experiments. The kids who find him immediately want to adopt him, though he turns out to be a Tykebomb, and the Big Bad arranged for them to find him.
In Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, no family in Catherine's neighborhood raised a boy found on their doorstep. No wonder she had to leave home to have adventures.
In Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novel The Mother Hunt, Wolfe's client is the widow of a famous author who answered the doorbell one night to find a baby wrapped in a blanket in her foyer, with a note pinned to the blanket that said "This is Richard's son. A boy should grow up in his father's house." She has no difficulty believing that her late husband was the father, but she wants Wolfe to find out who the mother is.
Megan Whalen Turner's short story "The Baby in the Night Deposit Box" has the namesake infant deposited at a bank. Since the child was legally deposited there for safekeeping, and therefore entrusted specifically to the bank, the bank staff raise and educate her in-house, despite the efforts of a shifty CPS worker who turns out to be working for the Big Bad.
The title character of Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar was abandoned on the doorstep of an orphanage; as an adult, he is passed off as a child who had vanished at age 10, leaving an ambiguous note.
I am an orphan, an orphan boy I've known no love, I've seen no mother's joy A dirty doorstep my cradle laid My fortune's made, I'll shake you from your sleep
According to a tongue-in-cheek biography on his record label's website, Sufjan Stevens was found on his adoptive parent's doorstep in a milk crate.
The protagonist of the David Bowie song "Day-In Day-Out": "She was born in a handbag/Love left on a doorstep..." Unfortunately, life never really gets any better as she grows to adulthood.
Myth, Legend, Folklore
According to the Old Norse Saga of the Jomsvikings, the Danish royal house of Knytlings goes back to a certain Knut the Foundling, who was found as a baby in a wood, and later adopted by a childless king.
The main character's daughter in the video game Silent Hill 1 is left by the side of the road in a manner like this. The protagonist takes her in and soon officially adopts her. Seven years later, he probably ends up wondering whether that was a good idea.
In PvP, Skull the Troll's diminutive cousin Sheky passes himself off as an abandoned infant (with a note to Skull to take care of him) so he can pickpocket the entire crew. He is found out and admits his real story.
The Cyantian Chronicles: Silver and other black, white and silver fox cubs. It helps that the parents are protecting them from a killer ruler who ordered the death of all of the black, silver and white foxes to eliminate the previous ruling caste.
Thankfully, the fox ruling cast gets better.
In Blind Spot (now regrettably defunct), Dr. Dorian Mitchell is instructed to destroy the clone EUM061 he'd been raising at the laboratory. Harboring somewhat fatherly feelings toward the Designer Baby, he elects to drug him and smuggle him out of the lab instead; however, while driving down the highway, he panics and ends up leaving the child by the road unconscious.
Dragon Mango: Spoofed; the alchemist Cupcake explains that she doesn't know exactly what race she is, because her adoptive mother and mentor, Chocolate Explosion, found her lying in a box on the doorstep. Her immediate reaction upon seeing the box: "I didn't order this!"
Probably the only time the Doorstop Baby is in on it, in Kevin & Kell after the clone Dolly found herself regressed to a baby via an accident with a time machine, she conspired with her DNA parent Corrie and Corrie's boyfriend to leave herself (now going by Mary) on the doorstep of Candace Canid. The funny thing? That made the second time she was adopted by Candace.
This was Annie's origin story, left on the orphanage steps and given a letter and half of a locket.
Leela in Futurama was one of these and, as an adult, she still has the basket. However, she was left with Cookieville, a minimum security "orphanarium", instead of adoptive parents. (Inside, there's a large pile of baskets by the door.) She eventually meets her mutant parents and finds out why they left her there.
A Bugs Bunnycartoon features a midget gangster nicknamed Baby Face Finster who "leaves" himself at the mouth of Bugs's rabbit-hole, in order to recover a valise full of stolen money he had accidentally dropped down there. Hilarity genuinely ensues.
A nearly identical variation provided the main plot of the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Dirty Rotten Diapers" in which, much like Baby Face Finster, a midget gangster pulls the same stunt in order to check the loot that his two henchwomen would actually steal.
This happened to all three protagonists of Sonic Underground; one was raised by his aunt and uncle, one by an aristocratic family, and the last by a skilled thief.
The aforementioned third hedgehog baby, Manic, is a minor subversion of the "there's always someone there to answer the door" part of this trope, he was actually stolen at the doorstep of where he was intended to be left, but was raised by the very thief who stole him.
On one episode of Camp Lazlo, Chip and Skip did this to themselves to get Jane, the scoutmistress of the girls' camp, to adopt them. Jane assumed Lumpus did it to get out of taking care of them, and was less than pleased with him.
Mickey Mouse winds up with a kid this way in the cartoon Mickey Plays Papa (a cartoon which notably featured Mickey dressing as his muse The Tramp to entertain the child). The cloaked anonymous mother in the beginning is actually quite sinister looking.
In the short Officer Duck, Donald Duck disguises himself as a Doorstop Baby to infiltrate the hideout of criminal Tiny Tom (Pete). Donald spends much of the cartoon bibbed and diapered, making for some amusing antics.
The title character of Little Elvis Jones and the Truckstoppers was left on the doorstop of a truckstop in a guitar case, by a mysterious Cadillac that vanished into the night. His parents, Elvis fanatics, are convinced that he's really the son of the King. The kid himself does not believe this, and while he's Happily Adopted, at times he grows quite irritated with their obsession... which, among other things, include venerating a snotty handkerchief used by Elvis at a concert his adoptive mother attended, and forcing him to grow his (red) hair into an Elvis-like coif.
Lil Elvis has doubts about the situation, and Once an Episode he speculates over who might have left him there, usually related to the current episode.
In Growing Up Creepie, Creepie is an orphan left on doorstep of the Dweezwold Mansion, which is home to a family of various insects.
Nibbles, Jerry's adopted nephew on Tom and Jerry, is introduced as this, complete with the letter.
In the The Simpsons episode, "Gone Maggie Gone", Homer leaves Maggie at a church doorstep for a second, only for her to get taken in and Homer can't get her back, setting off the plot for the rest of the episode.
Yugo of Wakfu, though technically left in his cradle conspicuously nearby to his foster father and not on his doorstep.
Quagmire found a baby girl on his doorstep on Family Guy. In this case it was actually his own daughter from a one-night stand. He ultimately gives her up for adoption.
In the 1980s series Alvin and the Chipmunks, it's established that Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were left at the door of David Seville's cabin near the woods, where he was a struggling songwriter. All he saw was a cloaked figure running back into the woods. In A Chipmunk Reunion, their mother explains that it had been a particularly brutal winter, and she hadn't had the resources to feed them. Although she'd always intended to go back and get them in the spring, their immediate success as musical artists under Dave's tutelage made her think they'd be better off without her.
Jonathan Kent lampshades this trope in Superman: The Animated Series when trying to explain to Clark where he came from. Clark (initially) thinks it's a joke.
"Do you know how some babies are found in baskets? (Reveals a rocket) This is how we found you."
Many states in the USA have laws, called "safe haven" laws, which say a newborn child may be dropped off at a hospital emergency room or other spot (fire stations are popular) anonymously, no questions asked. There are some restrictions, in that the child must be under a certain age and can't just be left out in the cold (that is, someone working there must be aware there is a baby that needs care). In fact, these laws were written specifically to keep babies from being left out in the cold.
One state, Nebraska, created a safe haven law that originally lacked age restrictions. After people started dropping off teenagers, they realized they wrote the law more sweepingly than they intended and readjusted it to infants only.
It was a bad few months. Parents were driving hundreds of miles from out-of-state to drop off their older children. One woman drove all the way from California and dropped her teenage son off at the first hospital past the state line mere hours before the age restrictions took effect.
Tragically, some people did this with older children as the only way they could get the children adequate mental health care.
Common in China due to its One Child Policy, which heavily fines parents (outside of rural districts that need the manpower) who have more than one child. With a strong cultural preference towards boys (male children are expected to take care of their parents when they grow too old to work), if a firstborn child is a girl, it's been common to drop them off in a public area, usually near a police station or marketplace, where they'll be easily found. Combined with a streamlined paperwork system for foreign adoptions, and this fortunately resulted in many orphaned girls being Happily Adopted.
This would actually come back to bite China in the ass many years later as the outflow of infant girls resulted in a gender imbalance in China meaning that there were many more men then women available for them to marry. In some extreme cases, women were actually being kidnapped to be forced to be married to other men so the men could continue their family line...
This was already an established film trope in 1921, when D.W. Griffith subverts it in Orphans Of The Storm. Just before the French Revolution, a starving peasant couple in Paris decide to leave their baby at the church, since they can't feed her. The father takes the baby, but when he arrives at the church, there is already a baby there. Seeing the other baby not only makes him rethink abandoning his own, but he ends up going home with both of them. They grow up to be played by Lillian and Dorothy Gish.
The Three Stooges took a baby off someone else's doorstep when they thought nobody was home to find it... The mom was only gone for five minutes, and Hilarity Ensues.
In Problem Child, the baby gets left on approximately eleven successive doorsteps, even as he grows into a toddler, before he's dropped off an an orphanage and a family finally keeps him, much to their future detriment.
In "Kung Pow! Enter the Fist" the infant protagonist after being flung out a window durring a fight scene, rolls down a hill before coming to rest in front of an old woman. The elderly woman picks up the softly crying infant, rocks him in her arms, says "oh, so cute" and gently rolls him off the other side of the road down the hill again.
One of the stories in Natalie Babbitt's The Devils Storybook features a priest finds a baby thus on the doorstep of the church. Only it turns out to be an imp, a baby demon — there's a sulfurous smell and red skin and horns and everything. And a sooty spot that won't rub off the spot where the kid was left on the steps. The priest is all for caring for the kid, thinking it's God's will, but the townsfolk get so upset that a mob ends up setting fire to the church, telling the priest to leave the imp there and come out. Only the priest refuses to abandon a baby, and stands there ready to burn. The church burns down around him, and he remains utterly unharmed — the imp now gone. Afterwards, he wonders which power it was that saved him.
Parodied in the children's book Bunnicula, about a vampire rabbit that sucks the juice out of vegetables. The family finds him in a shoebox under a seat in a movie theater where they're watching a Dracula film, along with a note in an obscure Überwald dialect which the family dog translates as, "Take good care of my baby."
In one sketch from the Australian comedy series The D Generation, a woman leaves her baby in a blanket on a suburban doorstep with a note. The homeowner peers out of the window and calls the bomb squad, who evacuate the area and safely detonatethe 'suspicious package'.
Discussed in the first episode Raising Hope. When Jimmy first brings Hope home, Jimmy's mother tries to convince him to leave Hope down at the fire station, because she doesn't think Jimmy is in any way capable of raising a child. Jimmy eventually decides to keep Hope.