Yesterday, I saw a meme my daughter posted. One older Asian sibling was teasing the younger one that she was found in a dumpster. My daughter who grew up in a yours, mine and ours family commented that she used to tell her sibling that her parents were monkeys. When I commented that the graphic made me sad because some adoptees were actually dumpster babies, she told me that she didn’t realize it happened, she just thought it was a joke and I see today that she did remove it.
Today, in my all things adoption, I see a comment that references dumpster babies in response to a story about those Safe Haven Baby Box Drop Offs that I have written about before in this blog. A former Labor and Delivery nurse said –
I am in favor of them….with the caveat that the child can be reclaimed by mom, without penalty within the first 6 mo. (I actually read a book not long ago, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, where was a baby left by a desperate mother at the fire station. She later wanted to reclaim the baby.)
The L&D nurse continues with – I wish this was spoken of in schools, as early as middle/ high school. This is designed to prevent dumpster babies, the majority of which are likely never found. (In fact, there is a Family Guy meme that is captioned, I am a prom night dumpster baby. Image at the top of this blog.)
I do agree with the nurse, whatever can prevent a panic infanticide, and these do happen. I also wrote a blog once about the remains of a baby who died of exposure and neglect who was found many many years later and in fact, the mom who dumped him was eventually revealed.
The ‘safe haven’ laws are not uniformly known…even among those who ‘work’ in the safe haven locations. A reform would be if those babies left in baby boxes or victims of hospital ‘abandonments’ (which also do happen) all had a 6 month, no questions asked (no effort at a termination of parental rights by Child Protective Services, if the mom comes forward within that time), so that she may retrieve her baby. No adoptions allowed before that grace period ends.
The article that caused that comment was about a 19 yr old Indiana teen, Hunter Wart, who worked for over a year to raise $10,000 as his senior project. The end goal was to purchase a baby drop-off box for the Seymour Fire Department. He mowed lawns and collected metal to sell as scrap. The article goes on to say his reward was when a healthy baby girl was left inside. The fire Chief Brad Lucas estimated that the child was only one hour old, when she was dropped off. An alarm rings when the box is opened by the person leaving a baby. The baby girl will be in custody of the Indiana state child services, once she is released from the hospital. A Safe Haven Baby Box is definitely better than abandoning a baby in unsafe conditions.
The Safe Haven Baby Boxes non-profit was founded by Monica Kelsey—who was abandoned as an infant herself—in an attempt to give distressed new moms a safe place to leave their child while remaining anonymous. Before the initiative was launched, two to three abandoned babies died every year in Indiana, said Kelsey. The state has had no abandoned babies die since the boxes were installed, she added. “These babies were left in trash cans and dumpsters. One was left at the door of a hospital. That baby had frozen to death before he was found.
While I am not a fan of adoption and I have made it abundantly clear that I think families need enough financial and other kinds of support in order for parents to be able to raise their children, I am a realist. I understand that options should not be removed from women because I believe babies are generally (but not always) better off if raised by their biological parents. The goal of Safe Haven Baby Boxes is to minimize harm and trauma. We should never limit the options available for mothers in crisis.