You gotta hand it to the folks in California. When they’re not busy enacting Word of Faith legislation (see “Facts Don’t Matter”), they’re complaining that not enough parents are anonymously handing over their newborns to the state’s at-a-location-near-you baby dump. The reported 33 (or 32) babies in “non-bureaucratic placement” in Los Angeles County since the state’s Safe Haven law went into effect in 2001 isn’t good enough for Safe Haven cheerleader LA County Supervisor Don Knabe (pronounced kuh NAH bee.) Quoted in the March 18, 2005 issue of the Torrance Daily Breeze, Knabe lamented that turning over a baby shouldn’t be a tortured decision for mothers. “It seems like such a simple little thing to do, but it’s such a struggle for these mothers to do this.” Perhaps Mr. Knabe should consider slerking around a fire station in the middle of the night and dropping off one of his kids anonymously. Or better yet, at his age and with California’s new designated dumper law–a grandchild. It would be such a simple gesture for a parent (or grandparent) who cares–and would certainly help with the family budget. If it saves just one….
Happily, help is on the way! The folks at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee have just the solution for Mr. Knabe: cooking the books by “counseling” maternity in-patients to just skulk away and leave their babies at the hospital. That way, “desperate women” can raise the stats by just taking a hike. “Nobody will ever have to know you had this child”– even though you will be remembered by doctors, nurses, Candy Stripers, and floor scrubbers as the No Shame, No Blame, No Name woman who was convinced by the local hospital Safe Haven hack that as a potentially dangerous mother you owe it to your newborn to courageously avoid ethical standards of child welfare and adoption planning, walk out the door unnoticed–and stiff the hospital to boot.
According to the March 17,2005 Sierra Sun, Ann Holmes Delforge, director of inpatient services at Tahoe Forest reveals that this is indeed the scenario of the hospital’s two hoo–hawed Safe Haven cases. According to Delforge, both pregnant women checked themselves into the hospital for delivery. The first woman intended to “safe haven” after a hospital birth. The second mother had no idea what she was going to do and ultimately “chose” to leave her baby at the hospital. “It has been a good option,” says Delforge. “I think for both of those scenarios it really did meet the intent of the law.”
The intent of the law? The intent of the law is allegedly to prevent “desperate mothers” from dropping their babies into the Eternal Dumpster, not encouraging them to indulge in state-sanctioned unethical behavior by walking into the sunset like Madame X, leaving their children with no identity and history.
We hate to drop the bad news on you Ann, but the Truckee babies are boarder babies defined by the Abandoned Babies Assistance Center at UC-Berkeley as “infants under the age of 12 months who remain in the hospital past the date of medical discharge [who] may eventually be claimed by their parents and/or be placed in alternative care.” While the rate of boarder baby abandonment has decreased in the last few years, it is still a serious problems, especially in intercity hospitals where boarder babies can bust the budget. In 1998,the estimated annual cost of care for boarder babies in the US ranged from $30.6 million to $68.7 million In 2003, at University Hospital in Trenton, NJ, the cost of the “boarder baby unit alone was over $1,000,000 most of which had to be absorbed by the facility. (NorthJersey.com, February 11, 2005).
Trust us, Safe Haven laws were never meant to encourage a new boarder baby epidemic.
By redefining Safe Havens to fit the boarder baby model, Delforge and her ilk pave the way for legal anonymous hospital births laws such as the French Accouchement sous X law in which the identities of parents are expunged from all medical and official state records. Instituted in 1941 by the Vichy government to protect Nazi occupiers and their own government from disclosure of sexual misdeeds, this pernicious law has produced 600,000 French citizens who have no right to identity, even today, 64 years later. To be fair, Delforge may not even be aware of the X laws or the motivation behind current laws that legalize anonymous infant abandonment, but she and Don Knabe and all the other amateur child savers are complicit in the identity erasure of a coming generation of adopted people for whom the open records revolution will never be a reality. Shame on them!