Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization
PO Box 5607
New Windsor, New York, 12553-7845
Stop Safe Haven Baby Boxes Now!
6337 S. Staples Road
Corpus Christi, Texas 78412
Contact: Marley Greiner
September 13, 2023
SAN ANTONIO CITY COUNCIL POISED TO FUND UNETHICAL AND ARCHIAC SOCIAL EXPERIMENT ON BABIES TO THE TUNE OF NEARLY $500,000 IN TAXPAYER MONEY
On September 14, 2023, The San Antonio City Council is scheduled to vote on a budget allocation of $438,000 for the lease of 12 “newborn safety devices” to be installed at public locations in the city These devices, popularly known as Safe Haven Baby Boxes are depositories, similar to bank depositories or library book return boxes, built into the walls of fire stations, hospitals, or other state-authorized locations to facilitate easy, de-personalied “shame-free,” and legalized “anonymous abandonment of newborns by parents (typically mothers) or those allegedly designated by them. Under the current Texas Baby Moses Law, (safe haven), which was amended this year to include baby box “relinquishments” infants up to the age of 60 days of age can be surrendered anonymously legally with no counseling, informed consent or questions asked.–and without the knowledge of the other parent
The budget request is sponsored by Council Member John Courage (D 9) and supported by Bexar County DA Joe Gonzalez is a response to the Dobbs decision and abortion restrictions enacted by the Texas legislature. A sort of “stay out of jail card, a reset of Roe—the assumption apparently that if women who can’t on won’t care for their newborns have no other choice than the dumpster or the ditch—a dangerous and untrue message.
Adoptee rights, adoption reform, and adoption professionals across the country—and adopted people in general—object to these devices but you wouldn’t know it from the media blackout that has kept our voices out of the public eye and ear. The few objections that do seep through to the public are scoffed at and silenced by box advocates (outside of SA, they are almost all evangelical and Catholic ‘pro-life” activists) who historically see adoptees and the adoptee rights movement antithetical to their own agenda. Baby Box advocates claim adoptees who oppose them “hate adoption” “had a bad experience” are even mentally unstable, and even Satanic! Shut up and be grateful. You weren’t tossed in a dumpster—the assumption that anyone who is adopted would have otherwise been abandoned or murdered.
Adoptee rights activists and adoption reform advocates across the country are watching SA in horror at what might come down here. We are incredulous that San Antonio lawmakers would consider spending nearly a half-million dollars on these devices, which are considered by many as a form of child abuse. Since 2016, when they first came on the scene, they have been used only 35 times (many under dubious circumstances). No research or study has been made of these contraptions, who uses them and why—or even their safety. (Unlike the lamp on your nightstand, they aren’t even UL certified.)
To top it off, SA politicians want taxpayers to foot the bill, when baby boxes in other locations are funded by donations from individuals, churches, ministries, businesses, and non-profits in individual cities where here they are located. Now SA taxpayers are expected to divvy up money on an unproven scheme when those funds can be bettered used to support reproductive health and child abuse prevention programs. There is only one company in the US that manufacturers and leases these boxes: $16,000 per unit which comes to $192,000. What happens with the extra $246,000? Who profits?
This outrageous budget request needs to be withdrawn permanently, or at least postponed for another year. The city should initiate a study of their use and efficacy that include the input of adopted people birth parents, and adoption professional that subscribe to best standards practice. The city has no business encouraging child abuse.
Our organizations as well as well as others and individuals have contacted city council members who have not responded to our questions and concerns. These concerns are listed directly below.
Please cover this story—and include adoptee opposition voices in you coverage. I will be happy to talk to you and can furnish you the names of other Texas, and at least one in SA,
6 General Baby Box Objections
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 Objections(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.
Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adopter’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.
Top Safe Haven Baby Boxes Now! a non-partisan website maintained by an informal group of individuals that serves as an educational resource and tool to de-propagandize and deconstruct the Safe Haven Baby Box (SHBB) movement and myth. Our goal is to expose how the Safe Haven Baby Box movement is an unethical agendized movement that undermines adoptee, parental, and tribal civil and human rights; rejects best practice standards in child welfare, adoption, fostercare, pre-, and post-natal care; opposes family preservation; and harms children and their families. Our resources encourage critical thinking and assist individuals and organizations to actively oppose legislation and other methods to implement and advocate SHBB use on the local state, and national levels.