Adoptee rights advocates, child welfare experts, allies, and supporters believe the implementation of Safe Haven Baby Boxes is dangerous and counter to the best interest of infants and children.
The use of baby boxes:
- 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 access to original birth and heritage records.
- Trivializes child relinquishment, especially anonymous relinquishment, and its outcomes.
- 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 family preservation alternatives.
- Denies the non-surrendering parent the right of custody and to rear their 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 can use drop boxes without consent or knowledge of the (other) parent with no repercussions.
- Disenfranchises natural parents –particularly the non-surrendering parent (usually the father) –of their right to due process
- Creates at-risk adoptions due to possible litigation from the non-surrendering parent or biological family members seeking custody.
- Contravenes the family reunification guidelines of the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act and parts of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) which can cause federal litigation.
- Encourages women to keep problematic pregnancies a secret by discouraging them from seeking family and professional communication, assistance for sexual/physical abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, and social isolation—factors that cause nearly every newborn discard.
- Discourages women from seeking pre-and post-natal care and to give unsafe unattended birth.
- Hides crimes such as rape, incest, and spousal/partner abuse.
- Preys on undocumented and refugee parents who can’t or won’t seek medical and social services for fear of arrest, deportation, loss of other children,. It forces them to give birth dangerously and secretly and to secretly abandon them if they can’t care for them.
- Does not decrease infant mortality rates. as suggested by promoters. According to the National Institutes of Health, the main causes of infant death are (1) birth defects; (2) preterm birth and low birth weight; (3) Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; (4) pregnancy complications; and (5) accidents. The nobody-has-to-know-you-had-this baby ideology of Safe Haven Baby Box promoters exacerbates 1, 2, and 4.
Fundamentally, the causes of infant discard are not addressed by baby box bills and laws, including:
- inability to secure affordable medical treatment/care
- denial/ignorance of pregnancy
- Draconian immigration policy/practice
- substance/physical/sexual abuse/domestic violence
- shame, crime, mental illness, family dysfunction, social isolation, and poor communication skills.
Moreover, Safe Haven laws vary throughout the country. Infants from birth to one year of age (in some states) can be “legally” abandoned.” Dumping a one-year-old with an established identity, family social, and medical history, and other connections creates huge ethical, emotional, and psychological issues for both the infant and their family.
Advocates are also concerned with issues of safety and economics. Baby Boxes:
- Require substantial building alterations and costs associated with building permits, contractor procurement, and possibly, contracted monitoring services.
- Currently, Safe Haven Baby Boxes, a private organization, holds a US patent on the boxes, which are manufactured and sold by only one company contracted by the organization. This arrangement can consequently interfere with state or local law mandating competitive bidding.
- According to Safe Haven Baby Box promoters, some currently installed boxes have been redesigned about two dozen times in the last two years. We have seen nothing to clarify the status of those boxes if and when new designs are available, or the cost and funds, and responsibility to replace them.
- Since laws will permit boxing from babes at birth to age one, can they hold older babies? What about multiple births?
Summary: Safe Haven Baby Boxes are anti-adoptee, anti-adoption, and anti-family. They are a direct attack on adoptee civil rights, fathers’ rights, and ICWA, and subvert the civil rights of adopted people current and future. They fly in the face of contemporary child welfare practice Baby Boxes do not empower women and certainly not their abandoned children as they grow up, They trivialize pregnancy, commodify babies, and maintain adoption secrets and lies. Baby Boxes are promoted as an easy solution to very complex social and economic problems, and in the end, leave everyone behind. Certainly, there are better solutions.
Modified in part from the Bastard Nation Statement in Opposition to Safe Haven Baby Boxes.