Email San Antonio, Texas Mayor and City Council members today asking them to vote NO on this year’s budget request for $438,000 to pay for 12 Safe Haven Baby Boxes in the city.
Yes, you read that correctly! Nearly half a million dollars in taxpayer funds for a dozen baby boxes–or as they are calling them, “newborn safety devices”.
The budget request needs to be withdrawn. Funds should be reallocated to local resources that address reproductive health, mother and child care, and child abuse. At a minimum, funding and box installation should not be approved before a study that includes stakeholders such as adopted people and experts in the field is made on the use and efficacy of boxes.
I am writing more about this than I would normally for an Action Alert because background is needed on the SA situation to make sense of this crazy request. We are wading in new and rancid muck. Our Texas webpage can furnish you with details on the baby box mess Texas has become.
The budget allocation is promoted by city council member John Courage, and Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzalez, both liberals, who see boxes as a trade-off of sorts. SCOTUS and the State of Texas have taken away your previous “settled” reproductive rights, but we can reset that by handing you a Stay Out of Jail Card with a new special right to stuff your baby in a special state-approved abandonment box-in-the-wall and walk away–no questions asked. It’s not a great idea, but at least we won’t have to prosecute you since… well, we know that you’ll otherwise go to the nearest dumpster or ditch. We doubt that’s the dangerous message the two intend to send, but that’s what it is.
The budget allocation is also supported by Eagles’ Flight Advocacy & Outreach, an influential conservative non-profit offering services and programs to Texas “families in crisis.” including promotion of the Texas Baby Moses Law (traditional safe haven law). The organization has supported bills to legalize baby boxes in the state, and in 2021 supported HB 684, a bill that would have increased the age-frame of infants eligible for safe haven “surrender” from the already high 60 days to 1 year. The bill did not move out of committee.
We understand that there is opposition to the allocation request in the city government, but we haven’t heard much about it. The joint letter that SSHBBN and Bastard Nation sent to the Governance Committee and later the full council received only one response. That one told us we don’t know what we are talking about. Other opposition documents have been sent to the city and the San Antonio Express-News, and we have posted two of them on our Texas page: Abrazo Adoption Services and the Freedom from Religion Foundation Action Fund.
The budget will be discussed on Tuesday and Wednesday and the budget request is scheduled for a vote during the 9:00 AM Thursday, September 14, 2023 meeting of the city council so, it is important to send your opposition comments quickly. If you are from the San Antonio area or have a SA or Texas connection, be sure to say that. Your letter doesn’t need to be long, but we are posting a list of talking points below for specific points you might want to bring up.
If you are in the San Antonio area and can attend the meeting, I urge you to do so. We understand that the council will receive in-person comments. Here are instructions on how to participate I live two hours away and have no transportation, or I’d be there. You can watch the meeting here. Call the City Council office at 210-207-7040 for scheduling questions and verification.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc prides itself on being independent of government funding–which is not exactly true as you will see on the financial table on our Promoters page. Still, most of its funding so far comes from local individuals, small businesses, non-profits, churches, and ministries where boxes are installed. A half-a-million dollar lease paid for by the City of San Antonio via non-consenting taxpayers makes funding a whole new ballgame that (1) opens the door for government money- with “no regrets” throughout the country, and (2) gives the lie to the baby box company’s insistent claim that it takes no public funds and that the local fundraising strategy creates community-building and box ownership. Once public money divvies up what locals don’t or can’t, the whole fundraising scheme goes sideways and most community involvement slinks away. Government entities become political partners of the company and its agenda and government money finances the continuation of sealed birth and adoption records and the anonymous infant adoption system. The right of adopted people to their own birth records, origins, family history, and autonomy continues to be rejected and at best a government favor.
6 Baby Box Talking Points
Our joint letter offers many talking points, which you can read there. Our points, obviously focus on adoptee rights, but there are other very valid and crucial arguments besides adoptee rights to use no matter your opinion of adoption and reproductive rights or for that matter the Baby Moses law baby if you believe in small government and responsible use of taxpayer money.
The proposed implementation of government-funded SHBB aka “newborn safety devices” presents a plethora of questions and problems :
- There is no need for any baby boxes in San Antonio, much less a dozen. A search of online media archives of the last 10 years found 5 cases of newborn discard/ neonaticide (as far as we can tell); 3 survived. Reports are vague and suggest that some of these babies would not qualify under Baby Moses protocols, such as the age frame. Nationwide, well under 100 discard/neonaticide cases a year are reported.
- While San Antonio does not have newborn discard problem it has a huge child abuse problem, reportedly the highest rate in the state. $438,000 instead should be allocated to combat that very real problem today, rather than on the speculative actions of a parent in the future.
- Budget allocation funds does not list a vendor, but leasing would be limited to one vendor: Safer Haven Baby Boxes INc since it is the only company in the US manufacturing these devices. In fact, SHBB Inc practices a Henry Ford vertical business plan. It created a “need” for its product. It works with legislators to write enabling legislation, lobbies for passage, runs its own hotline, trains box location staff, and manufactures its own product at its own factory where it employs family members of the founder/CEO. It advertises itself, on the outside box signage and in a bag of literature about its services left in the inside of the box for a parent to pick up when leaving a baby . Reportedly, in other states, state and local services are not included in the packet.
- Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc advertises itself as a Christian Ministry and derives much of its normal funding from churches, ministries., and Christian non-profits. Each box is ceremoniously “opened” with a box blessing featuring one or more local clergy that hold prayers. This means that the devices, through box signage on government-owned property such as fire stations, advertise a Christian ministry and its services. The city should not be promoting, advertising, or subsidizing a religious ministry.
- The leasing cost for each box is $11,000 with an additional approximate cost of $6,000 for construction, installation, landscaping, permits, etc. This comes to $192,000 for 12 boxes. What happens to the remainder: $246,000? The Governance Committee discussion mentioned establishing a hotline, but SHBB Inc has its own hotline. What is the breakdown? Who profits?
- San Antonio is being taken for a ride. The vast majority of baby boxes are funded locally by individual donors as well as businesses, churches, ministries, and non-profits with tax right-offs. San Antonio taxpayers, instead are being asked by City Council to divvy up the funds for a product that nearly everyone else gets for free and is hardly ever used.
9 Adoption./Child Welfare/Maternal Care Talking Points (or Nobody ever asks adoptees their opinion of Safe Haven Baby Boxes)
Safe Haven Baby Box ideology and advocacy:
- Creates a parallel child welfare system that rejects informed consent and a full record of identifying information and social and medical histories of the newborn. Their use eliminates adoptees’ right to identity by denying their right to full and original birth and heritage records. The right of adopted people to their own information in Texas is already heavily restricted; the use of baby boxes creates more restrictions and creates an entirely new class of undocumented adoptees. When Texas birth and adoption records restrictions are abolished (and they will be in the next few years) those who are boxed will not be able to grasp those rights due to state-secured anonymity.
- Commodifies babies and normalizes “legal” baby abandonment as just another consumer choice, with no lifetime psychological consequences for baby and mother, including, but not limited to abandonment issues shame, guilt, substance abuse, depression, and low self-esteem. Boxes represent state-sanctioned throwaway culture. Many critics call their use child abuse.
- Replaces professional best practice standards with unprofessional and unethical “relinquishment” by letting parents abandon solely for convenience or out of ignorance with no counseling, paper-signing, or discussion on alternatives such as government and private financial and material assistance for family preservation, temporary foster care, and legitimate adoption planning.
- Denies the non-surrendering parent the right of custody and to rear her or his own child. There is no mechanism in place to prove that the “surrendering” person has the legal right to do so. Abusive, embarrassed, or frightened partners, spouses or family members, and even sex traffickers can use drop boxes without consent or knowledge of the (other) parent with no repercussions. Box proponents, dismiss the very real dangerous and violent situations some women live in, by advising “if their baby is taken they can call the the police.” Boxes hide crimes such as rape, incest, spousal and partner abuse, and trafficking.
- Disenfranchises natural parents –particularly the non-surrendering parent (usually the father)–their right to due process by eliminating their ability to locate the child; thus denying them knowledge of (among other things) the dependency proceeding to which they are a party. The Putative Father Registry touted as a safeguard, is useless since records are filed by the name of the mother.
- Creates at-risk adoptions due to possible litigation from the non-surrendering parent or biological family members seeking custody. If a parent wants to place their child for adoption, San Antonio, alone has 12 adoption agencies.
- Contravenes the family reunification guidelines of the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act and parts of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and tribal rights which can cause federal litigation.
- Encourages women to keep problematic pregnancies a secret by discouraging them from seeking family and professional communication, and accessing assistance for sexual and physical abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, and social isolation—factors that cause nearly every newborn discard. Studies indicate that once a pregnancy is acknowledged and discussed the chance of discard is almost always gone.
- Finally, proponents like to argue that baby boxes work since they have been used 35 times in the US. No studies have been made on the use and efficacy of the devices., who uses them and why. They do not address the causes of newborn discard: poverty, inability to secure affordable medical care; denial or ignorance of pregnancy, Draconian immigration policy and practice, substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, and shame. Instead proponents “just know.'”they work. Yes, boxes have been used, but to what end? Often the babies are described as being clean, well-cared for, and left with blankets, onesies, baby bottles, toys, and notes from their mothers expressing their love. These “saved babies” were never in danger of discard and death. Mothers who discard their newborns do not do this.
Ron.email@example.com, Sukh.firstname.lastname@example.org, Jalen.email@example.com, Phyllis.firstname.lastname@example.org, Teri.email@example.com, Melissacabello.firstname.lastname@example.org, Marina.email@example.com, Manny.firstname.lastname@example.org, John.email@example.com, Marc.firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, AdrianaRocha.Garcia@sanantonio.gov
@DrSukhD1, @buildbridges4am, @DrAdrianaD4, Please do not support “newborn safety devices” in SA or the $438k budget allocation for them. Anti-adoptee, anti-family, unneeded., dangerous. TY.
@ElectPhyllisD3, @DrAdrianaD4, @District8Manny, @cosa_cd10, @JohnCourageD9 Please do not support “newborn safety devices” in SA or the $438k budget allocation for them. Anti-adoptee, anti-family, unneeded., dangerous. TY.
@CWCabelloHavrda, @Ron_Nirenberg Please do not support “newborn safety devices” in SA or the $438k budget allocation for them. Anti-adoptee, anti-family, unneeded., dangerous. TY.
District Attorney Joe Gonzalez
Stop Safe Haven Baby Boxes Now – Corpus Christi, Texas – 381-452-1391
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization – New Windsor New York – 614-795-6819