The last few days have seen a lot of strange and dotty rhetoric spewing from Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc & Friends. I’m working on a couple of longer pieces, so in the meantime, I thought I’d toss these out to you every day or so. If these outre thoughts don’t make sense to you, don’t worry. They don’t.
I’ll start with Indiana, the epicenter of our discontent.
Later today (October 2, 2023) Clinton, Indiana will bless its very own Safe Haven Baby Box and be on its way to saving newborns from “desperate vulnerable mothers” who are likely to kill them without the local box-in-the-wall option. I know this because nary a SHBB Inc box blessing or press conference or fundraiser goes by without Monica Kelsey, founder and CEO of the baby box company, as well as the incurious media tied to her hip, reminding us that “a baby was saved ” or “will be saved ” from a murderous monster mom due to the ingenious baby box and its corporate sponsor. Here is one of the latest headlines “Tremendous victory” Baby boy saved in Hobbs through Safe Haven Baby Box,
To drum up box blessing business in Clinton, My Wabash Valley com posted a short invitation to the celebration via (I assume) a SHBB Inc self-aggrandizing press release, that included this cognitive dissonate double entendre.(emphasis mine)
Indiana has reformed abandonment by providing over 100 locations for 100% anonymous surrender. We have seen women in crisis know they have a better option for their infant they love dearly, a Baby Box surrender is the chance for a better life with an adoptive family. Each time a Baby Box is placed there is a visual reminder of the Safe Haven Law in that community and vulnerable women have additional protection. Clinton has made their community safer and we are thrilled to have them in the program,”
“Abandonment reform” is not a term, much less a concept, that ever occurred to me. It’s sorta like advocating for organized crime “reform” or school shooter “reform.”
You’d think that “abandonment reform,” if one insists on pushing that idea, would actually strive to lower the newborn abandonment rate through creating or working in existing programs to support mothers and preserve and maintain families, not break them up through legalizing anonymous abandonment-by-baby box schemes that devalue mother and child.
It’s especially weird since the baby box movement advocates for and encourages what the rest of the world sees as abandonment– newborn legal anonymous box dumping,– while insisting that anonymous “safe” boxing isn’t abandonment at all but a mechanistic, though happy transfer of Baby Bumble from a “vulnerable and dangerous mother” into the loving arms of stranger adopters. –with no human contact required. In other words, abandonment is abandonment only if it is illegal and unsafe, while legal abandonment is nothing more than the seamless safe, loving, and secret transfer of parental rights, and not abandonment. Newborn abandonment is thus presented as a semantical game that when “legal,” is cleansed of negative connotations and impact.
Adopted people would like a word with Mrs. Kelsey.
Mrs. Kelsey says she was abandoned at birth and was adopted into a “loving home. ” She has written about her own adoption issues before finding Christ’s purpose for her life: baby boxes. She fails, however, to grasp, or at least remember, the uncomfortable truth that she felt herself, that virtually all adopted people, even in the “best adoptions,” suffer from abandonment and trust issues on some level that cause any number of lifetime psychological, emotional, and legal problems Her boxes, she fails to acknowledge, reinforce those problems and the bad practices and ideologies that create them. They add another layer of adoptee mind-fuck-for-life to the already dense adoption and adoptee dysphoria embedded in myth, tradition, and law.
Maybe I’m overthinking this.
“Abandonment reform” could just be a clumsy linguistic co-option of the term “adoption reform” since every adoption reform organization in the country opposes baby boxes.
Whatever is going on, it doesn’t obviate the second problem of baby box cognitive dissonance presented in “abandonment reform” language. While SHBB Inc and the media crow that they save the lives of newborns, Mrs. Kelsey insists that the mothers of “her” babies legally dump newborns they “dearly love” because without her boxes, they will just dumpsterize them. Where’s the truth? The babies left in boxes are described by Mrs. Kelsey herself almost universally as healthy and well cared for. They are often wrapped in blankets or wearing onesies, accompanied by toys, bottles, and notes of mother love. Hardly ready for the dumpster or ditch. Perhaps Mrs Kelsey was unduly influenced at an early age by The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
Mrs. Kelsey can’t have it both ways, but she does, and the media lets her get away with this tired misogynist Madonna/whore paradigm.
The whole thing reminds me of the discussions I had with my graduate school adviser the late historian J.C. Burnham who liked to remind me that reform is nothing more than sweeping some of the more dirtier dirt under the rug to make people feel better while the rest of the dirt remains in plain sight to regenerate itself later nto the same old dirt with a new name. That was a shocking idea for me at the time, but I have yet to see otherwise.