NOTE: I originally intended to write only a short piece on the West Covina story below. But once I started I decided it was important for new readers, and those readers who might have forgotten, to go back and put the case in context from material I’ve written previously that I recently updated, but haven’t published. This piece does not cover how baby dump laws are used as a weapon against Class Bastard and the restoration of our right to our original birth certificates, which has been discussed in depth on this blog elsewhere.
The woman gave birth to the baby girl at the hospital and asked to surrender the newborn on May 20, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s office announced in a statement…
…”This case could have ended in tragedy, but because of the Safe Surrender program, this baby girl has a long life ahead of her,” Knabe said in the statement. “I am happy this mother made the right choice for her baby.”
Does anyone else find it odd that Supervisor Knabe is congratulating this mother, as if she’s some anomaly, for not murdering her child shortly after giving birth to her?
Veteran baby dump watchers know, though, that Knabe has a long history of considering pregnant women and new mothers murderous by default, in need of state nannying to stop them from neglecting, abusing, and killing their newborns. One of the first blogs Bastardette wrote (March 23, 2005) was about Knabe’s fret that not enough women were anonymously dumping their kids on ER counters or into the arms of California fire fighters. “It’s such a simple thing to do” he opined. Ungrateful wenches!
Knabe’s press release on the West Covina dump is on his safe surrender webpage, (page has been up and down since Thursday) and is, for all intents and purposes, the text of the news story. The Whitter Daily News regurgitation is nothing new, of course, just more faux “reporting” by an incurious lazy media happy to publish a press release as “news” and cement another brick in the wall of “safe haven” secrecy and sealed adoption records.
STATS AND STORIES FROM OTHER STATES
We have no idea of the circumstances of the West Covina case, but this is what goes on in other states.
*The Michigan Department of Human Services Safe Delivery Fact Sheet (statistics) [pdf] tells us (my emphasis) that from 2001 to May 30, 2011 88 “safe haven” events have occurred; 75 (nearly 85%) of those babies were born in hospitals. Each case is documented online, listing the county of surrender and the age of the mother. In a few cases the father was at the birth and is listed as “surrendering” with the mother. In two cases courts granted the return of babies to their mothers. In a third case a mother changed her mind and voluntarily placed her baby in a traditional adoption. Not included in the statistics but published in the list, is a case in which a court refused to adjudicate the “surrender” as a “safe haven” citingICWA (the federal Indian Child Welfare Act) and a tribe took custody.
*A March 20, 2007 press release from the Kentucky Cabinet for Child and Human Services says that 14 out of 15 “safe havened” babies were born in hospitals, something that Lisa Durbin, manager of the Child Safety Branch calls “unexpected.” A press release dated February 13, 2008indicates another 5 were “safe havened” but does not mention how many were born in hospitals. No numbers are available online since then.
*A November 21, 2008 article in the Newark Star-Ledger about the state’s “safe haven” program tells New Jersey residents How You Can Put a Baby in a Loving Home.
A similar press release dated January 7, 2010 (not online; hard copy in my possession)raises questions about how the program operates and its purpose.
Subject: A baby boy named Abraham!
A pregnant woman contacted us via our helpline nine (9) weeks ago seeking information and assistance, explaining that she was not able to provide a future for her child. She received medical care throughout her pregnancy and gave birth to a very health (sic) little boy. His name is Abraham.
We coordinated the “Safe Haven” process for her with the hospital. The mother praised the hospital staff saying, “This was a very difficult time for me. They were so compassionate, kind, and did not judge me. I am so thankful for that. Also, I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for the guidance, assistance and support of the Safe Haven for Newborns staff.”
The grandmother said her daughter, described as “mentally ill,” had received no options counseling and implied that the baby had been surrendered while the mother was under the influence of medications after delivery. According to them, the mother, though she had been considering adoption, had no intention of dumping the baby into the “safe haven” black hole. She had, in fact, never heard of the program and claimed a social worker assured her the baby was being placed in a “Christian adoption program.” Still unsure of what she wanted to do, Mom went to court and regained custody. A few weeks later she placed the baby in an open adoption with parents of her choosing. Doctors Hospital refuses comment, and a hospital official was reprimanded for speaking to the Dispatch’s Price and letting the hospital be identified in the newspaper—something hospital officials claimed breached “safe haven” anonymity. My blog on this case is here. The young woman’s mother posted their story on AVVO, here.
Since “safe haven” files are sealed we really don’t know much about individual cases or the spectrum of “safe haven” practices outside of what the press tells us or we can gather from public records or private sources; for instance, blogs of persons who have surrendered or adopted a “safe havened” child; or personal interviews with those involved in a case. (At a later date I’ll discuss the ICAN reports out of LA County, the only “studies” that give us any “detailed” case narratives in the US).) For today I will limit myself to a few general remarks taken from what information we do have on how baby dumping operates.
“Safe haven” is being used to exploit vulnerable women, some unsure of their parenting interests or skills, and/or unaware and kept unaware, of options such as state and private financial and material aid, temporary foster care in which parental rights are not endangered, or traditional adoption plans. I believe some women have used the laws to hide babies from family members, particularly babies’ fathers. There are anecdotal reports from men claiming that pregnant girlfriends have threatened to use the “safe haven option” if the fathers don’t back-off on objecting to adoption plans. Some women, of course, are duped, as in the case of the Grove City, Ohio woman. Poverty certainly plays a hand in “safe haven” surrenders.
Especially vulnerable are women (and some men) who appear to be illegal immigrants with no support network, little money, and afraid to seek prenatal and postnatal care, social service counseling, and financial aid for fear of being arrested and deported. They tend to have low or no English language skills. If actually interested in making an adoption plan they are unaware of how to do it. One such case happened in 2005 in South Carolina, a case, complicated by the “surrender” meddling of the local God Squad “crisis pregnancy center” ready to claim another one for Christ. Here is what I wrote about it at the time:
The latest exhortation comes out of Rock Hill, South Carolina, where a young Hispanic woman, perhaps an illegal worker afraid of the cops, Homeland Security, and deportation, clearly isolated from her community and social service assistance,and ignorant of US adoption law, stood outside the Piedmont Medical Center waiting for a couple who looked Hispanic willing to take her baby. Providentially, according the Rock Hill Herald (article no online, but in my possession) the couple she eventually approached had only the previous day read a safe haven poster on the door the York County Crisis Pregnancy Center, andgoooollllly gee, Andy, they knew just what do to. They bundled up mother and baby, called the center, and were shortly escorted into PMC by a friendly Crisis Center volunteer.
According to Trudy Laud, director of YCCPC, a CareNet ministry franchise, the mother was calm but kept her head down and was teary-eyed. “She was scared and really didn’t want to do this, except she felt she didn’t have a choice.” Not content to leave it alone, our baybeesaver felt the need to preach to the press, “The law provided life for this child. Rather than having an abortion or throwing her baby in a Dumpster, she did everything she could for her baby.“
Along with my commentary:
Wait a minute, Trudy! You just said that she clearly didn’t want to give up her baby. She was crying. Now you’re saying she would have played dumpster toss with it if not for the good services of your agency? Do you think before you talk? Get a grip! Did you actually present positive, family affirming “choices” to her? If you’d really had the best interests of mother and child in mind you would have advised her of avenues of help her keep her child or how to approach her family and friends, or how she could place it in temporary care until she could logically think out her plans, or how to make an ethical adoption plan where nobody is hiding behind locked doors. What about the father? Instead, you betrayed the mother with your phony good concern and initiated this little one into the Great Anonymous Brother and Sisterhood of the Safe Haven.
But, full of prim certainty, Miss Trudy washes clean any thought that her “counseling” was amiss. “It’s a God thing. He has plans for that child.”
Funny how God always agrees with his obsessive mind readers.
INSTITUTIONALIZED BECOMES NORMALIZED
As Ron Morgan correctly wrote in his comparison of the 1941accouchement Sous X (Born Under X) French law, instituted by the Vichy government during World War 2 to permit anonymous birth to hide the misdeeds of Nazi occupiers (and is still in effectsans Nazis) , and US baby dump statutes, “once the social welfare practice became institutionalized, it became normalized.” In other words, legalized dumping would become just another entree in the government’s child welfare hash house (l: baby dump box at Pomona Valley Hospital where “distraught parents” can leave a baby without personal contact with hospital staff–a violation of California law.) (Morgan’s essay is no longer on line; hard copy in my possession.)
Safe haven” laws were marketed to legislators and the public as something that would be used rarely. Though statistics on discarded infants in the US have been inexplicably lacking, a Lexus-Nexus study of news stories commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services in 1998 indicated that in 1992 65 infants were found abandoned (57 alive and 8 dead) and in 1997 105 newborns were found abandoned (72 alive with 33 dead). While these numbers are no doubt low, there is no reason to believe that the 1990s and beyond collected a critical mass of neonaticides to warrant the moral panic that has fueled baby dump propagandists, makes every parent a potential felon and every baby’s life in danger. A 2005 survey of county cororners in California found that the number of newborns dying from discard and neglect since that state’s law was passed in 2001 remained at 13-15 per year (report no longer online; hard copy in my possession.)
Yet The National Safe Haven Alliance, until recently on its website. boasted that upwards to 3000 babies had been reeled in to their program that was supposed to be used rarely. Does NSHA and other promoters really expect us to believe that the number of parents with murderous intent has increased that much in the 23 years since the HHS survey was taken? Does NSHA really expect us to believe that 3000 parents were stopped from throttling their infants at birth by the good offices of baby dump evangelism? Maybe that’s the reasons their stats have disappeared. They don’t.
The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center at Berkely,defines boarder babies as babies under the age of 12 months left behind at hospitals after their time of medical discharge. Their parents may have been drug or alchohol addicted; the babies may have been likewise born addicted or with HIV, disabilities; or simply unwanted Parents were rarely charged with abandonment.
In 2004 New Jersey, especially the Newark area, was overwhelmed with boarder babies–and their cost and care. In February of that year, Human Services Director James Davy announced that $300,000 had been allocated to fund studies to determine what kind of programs could be developed to stop hospital abandonment and to place the newborns, upon release whenever possible, with relatives. (Newsday, February 3, 2004; no longer online but hard copy in my possession; cut and paste copy here.). The New York Times, however, reported that in January 2004 Davy had also added $100,000 to New Jersey’s $500,00 “safe haven” promotion budget to convince parents to leave their newborns at hospitals! Don’t “boarder your baby; “safe haven” it.
The scam is clear. By changing the definition of newborn abandonment cases from the negative “boarder baby” hospital abandonment to the positive “safe haven” hospital abandonment, boarder babies began to disappear from the language of child abandonment. Abandoning parents, once considered social pariahs and deadbeats became courageous life givers applauded for not following their natural instincts of reckless abandonment and murder.
New Jersey’s A1406, the so-called Adoptees Birthright Bill, which would unseal the original birth certificates of some of the state’s adult adoptees, includes a section sealing by default, all the original birth certificates of the state’s “safe havened,” even babies born to identified parents and/or never adopted. New Jersey, in fact, is the only state to codify sealed records for Class Baby Dumped. Although that seal was written into the state’s baby dump law earlier, “adoptee rights advocates” there decided to shut up and put up and abandon the ultimate sealed records poster child to float perpetually in a black hole; thus making them abandoned twice, once by their parents under the friendly auspices of law and again by their so-called advocates who dont’ think they count.
Thanks for this one, BD. I have posted on my blog about the changing of language to change the public perception, as in the case of changing “natural mother” to “birthmother” distancing the mother from the child, and adding an “otherness” that is helpful to create and maintain the distance, not only for the mothers but to ease the consciences of hopeful paps who dare to think about the pain of the mother. She is not a mother, really, she is just a birthmother.
Again, this safe haven thing is just another old idea, closed adoption, reupped for the new generation. Every thing you wrote about in your article was familiar to me from BSE/EMS. Same subject, different day. Rather like the radically new concept of “Open Adoption” eerily similar to adoptions BEFORE the laws mandating anonymity came into play.
As the old saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun, and there is CLEARLY nothing new in adoption. Just a rewording, reworking, renaming of the same old stuff!
Ye Gads. Mothers can’t enter a hospital anonymously. They have to have a name and address, and insurance & payment info for that matter. So what do they do with the border babies? Redact the hospital’s records in order to make the baby a “safe haven” infant.
This is getting to be a cottage industry, I think.