There is a vast public misconception that Safe Haven and Baby Boxes are about rescuing newborns from certain death— not about encouraging mothers to abandon their babies in a fit of desperation, rather than seeking the protections of licensed programs offering respite care, adoption, counseling or private foster options.
The public doesn’t know that the mothers most likely to abandon babies in dumpsters or fields or toilets are in such a dissociative state, that they cannot think clearly enough to plan a logical surrender, whether to a fire station or an agency. The public is too caught up in the political drama surrounding the “baby-saving brigade” to consider whether the Safe Haven/Baby Box movement is equipped to meet its actual goals.
Elizabeth Jurenovich is a licensed therapist, and the founder of Abrazo Adoption Associates, a nonprofit open adoption agency.
What the Safe Haven/Baby Box push is more likely to do, however, is to dissuade vulnerable potential birthparents from participating in the protected processes of licensed adoption or foster care options. This is nearly inevitable since the anonymity and “no questions asked” approach of the baby dumping alternative alleviates the need for such vital safeguards as:
- personal identification
- paternal consent
- parental approval (as is often needed for minors, prior to abortion or adoption)
- preplacement counseling
- legal representation/informed consent
- sharing of medical history
- prenatal exposure (ETOH) disclosures
- any questioning about coercion or abuse impacting mother or child
- confirmation that the placing parent is not under the influence of duress, drugs or alcohol, or mental illness at time of surrender
- elimination of any ‘cooling off’ period (as is typically required to prevent post- abortion regret).
A state-sanctioned movement to revive the anonymous dumping of unwanted babies at approved drop-off sites threatens to undo decades of child welfare reforms that were intended to protect the best interests of both the resulting adoptees and their birthfamilies. Going backward is never a productive means of moving ahead. That’s a lesson that Safe Haven/Baby Box proponents would be wise to heed, going forward.”
SSHBBN welcomes blogs, essays, and comments from various oppositional viewpoints. We welcome Elizabeth Jurenovitch, a long adoptee rights ally as our first guest blogger.