“If there had only been a baby box…” Musings on the Marygrace Trinidad Case

SubwayBy now you might have heard about the latest baby dump story out of California: the Subway case. If  you haven’t, a  newborn boy was found bloody and half-submerged in a toilet at the Azusa Street Subway in West Covina. Witnesses reported a woman, later identified as Marygrace Trinidad, 38,  left the restroom “saturated in blood”  and walked away.  She was apprehended about 15-minutes later behind a Pep Boys store via a trail of blood, taken to a hospital, and later charged with suspicion of attempted murder and child endangerment. She was also charged on a January 3 warrant for suspicion of possessing a controlled substance and possessing drug paraphernalia. Trinidad, is described as a “Filipina transient” (a nice way to say she’s homeless) with mental problems.

The case is getting play with the baby box folks, who are convinced if there had only been a handy hole-in-the-wall baby box, the story would have had a happy ending.  (Translation: Trinidad could  have picked the baby out of the toilet, dropped him in a baby box, and then courageously bled out alone behind Pep Boys blameless, shameless. and nameless.) Not surprisingly,  Baby Boxers turned the tragic story of a mentally disturbed woman and her baby into an anti-abortion cause celebre showing an appalling  ignorance about newborn discard, mental illness, poverty, and abortion, peppered with Christian vitriol against the very women in “crisis pregnancies” they claim to want to “help.” All to pimp their boxes and their politics.  So much for the “love them both” approach.

One of Indiana Baby Boxer Monica Kelsey’s Minions queired on Kelsey’s “Pro-life Speaker” FB page (where most of the online baby box action takes place)

  • When I read that a baby is found in a toilet, I wonder if the girl was in the process of getting an abortion- sent home to dilate.

followed by others:

  • Why was she arrested? That was her CHOICE and her RIGHT.” ~pro-abortioners
  • Pro-kills would say you have to take your baby to die at an official kill clinic. You have to let it drop into a toilet at an approved dead baby dumping site/Planned Parenthood.
  • Charge her with attempted murder and abandonment.

Hope Boxers down in Acworth, Georgia (Atlanta-metro)  took a tinge more practical and less controversial approach suggesting that baby drop boxes and facilities such as they intend  to build, could have stopped the West Covina mess Whoever posted, though, failed to bring up their own bete noir— sex trafficking– as the cause of the Subway birth in particular– and baby dumping in general.

Unfortunately, no one has bothered to comment on that yet.  Maybe they sent money instead, since crowd funding for The Hope Box’s 24/7 baby processing plant isn’t going too well.

Or maybe it’s because one of their Dear Leaders, Tifanny Turolla. 31, housewife. mom, and aspiring pop gospel singer, is incommunicado having  just left on a 10 day whirlwind trip to Chaing Mai, Thailand.  Under the sponsorship (but not funding)  of the Welton Academy Supernatural Bible School, Ms Turolla plans to “assist[ing}  a local church that is hosting their anual (sic) minisionary (sic) retreat bringing missionaries from all over Asia in attendance (sic).” She hopes to inspire them to oppose sex trafficking while retreating them.

But back to West Covina:

Mary Trinidad

Mary Grace Trinidad

According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Trinidad is a well known denizen of the neighborhood. She should be familiar to any of us living in urban areas:

Trinidad is a familiar face to those who work at the strip mall on Azusa Avenue and Amar Road in the south end of West Covina. They say she often sleeps in an area behind the stores or in the parking lot.

An employee at the Subway said Trinidad would come to the store and get water.

“It’s not everyday (we) see her. But she was here a lot,” said the employee who declined to give her name. “Everybody in the shopping center knows her.”

Jordan De Lara, who works at the nearby Pinoy Pinay restaurant, said Trinidad used to hang out behind the buildings.

“Sometimes she begs for a dollar,” De Lara said.

He said there are times she would suddenly shout inside the restaurant, which didn’t sit well with a manager.

Several employees at the Island Pacific supermarket said Trinidad also frequents their store.

Alonzo Texca, one of the managers, last spotted her Sunday, sitting in the small food court area. She wasn’t begging, he said.

Paula Asuncion, one of the cashiers, said Trinidad has been a denizen of the strip mall for two to three years. Sometimes, Trinidad sleeps in the parking lot between two shopping carts pushed together and covered by a blanket, according to Asuncion.

“Sometimes she asks for food or if I have a dollar,” Asuncion said.

Trinidad told Asuncion once she has a father who she sends money too. She heard Trinidad worked at their store briefly, but it didn’t work out.

A cashier who declined to give her name said Trinidad told them she has family in San Francisco and Saudi Arabia. She said Trinidad used to work at a bakeshop in the strip mall across the street. She gave her food Sunday.

“I asked her, ‘Are you OK?’,” the cashier said. Trinidad told her she was fine.

On Monday morning, Asuncion said a customer saw a bleeding Trinidad walking in the center and notified them.

Trinidad had previous run-ins with the law including convictions in Los Angeles County for willful harm or injury to a child and possession of a controlled substance. Court records do not have details of the incidents.


Baby dump Pomona

Baby Box, Pomona Valley Hospital courtesy of Articulations.

Few serious studies have been made on American mothers who abandon or kill their newborns. Evidence suggests, however, that they suffer from a dissociative state in which the pregnancy is denied. Many suffer from substance abuse, mental disability, and physical abuse at the hands of family members and boyfriends. They are socially isolated and suffer from poor family communication. In most cases the pregnancy, unacknowledged or acknowledged, is a secret.

Marygrace Trinidad fits the profile.

Does anyone seriously believe that Trinidad would have sought out a safe haven drop-off point–or better yet, the baby box, that Monica Kelsey claims, with no substantiation, “desperate mothers” demand. Los Angeles County, in fact, has had  a baby box for more than a decade  at Pomona Valley Hospital. Sponsored by Debi Faris-Cefelli’s Garden of Angels baby burial plot, the drop box, as far as we know, has never been used.

The idea that newborn discard and neonaticide are related to abortion or sex trafficking is pure sensational tom-foolery. For more than  15 years I have sparred with much of the safe haven leadership, who I believe–with one exception –are well intentioned, but wrong, Most oppose abortion, but I can’t remember  tha tany seriously argue today that legalized anonymous baby abandonment is an alternative to abortion. Sex trafficking has never even come up. It’s about as relevant to baby dumping as lima beans.

This doesn’t mean however, that safe haven laws have not been agendized by outside parties to abrogate reproductive rights and justice along with adoptee, birthparent, and tribal rights. Last year the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis heard two suits to overturn Roe. Appellants argued that safe haven laws, by decriminalizing or legalizing anonymous newborn abandonment, have abolished the need for abortion. Allen Parker, founder of the “pro-family” (Texas) Justice Center commenting on the cases, told Life Site,  “The defense rested on the fact that Safe Haven laws provide a better alternative for women than abortion does. Women can turn their babies over to the state, no questions asked, and be free of the burden of childcare — obviously, without having to terminate the child.”

Wonder what he’d say about Mary Grace Trinidad.

In 2006 Columbia University law professor Carol Sanger wrote about the safe haven-abortion relationship  Infant Safe Haven Laws: Legislating in the Culture of Life. (Columbia Law Review) and Lory Oaks’ new book Giving Up Baby: Safe haven laws, Motherhood,  and Reproductive Justice addresses the issue at length. Of course I’ve been blogging about “safe havens” and abortion for years (Just type “safe haven” into the search box.)

Anecdotal evidence from those who work with at-risk girls and women as well as testimonies of women who have abandoned suggest that “baby dumpers” will not utilize safe haven programs, and those who actually do use the programs are no danger to their infants. Safe haven laws are sometimes used to circumvent best practice relinquishment or hide babies from their fathers. There are a handful of cases where men or relatives have unilaterally dropped off newborns either without the the mother’s consent or to hide crimes such as statutory rape,  Often users simply are left uninformed about safe haven alternatives such as public and private  family preservation/childcare assistance, temporary foster care. and informed adoption procedures. (Some safe haven programs do, however, present alternatives. Dawn Geras from Save Abandoned Babies Foundation says that about 25% of potential safe haven mothers she talks to eventually choose to keep their babies or arrange traditional  adoption plans–a rate she hopes increases)

There is no evidence regarding the efficacy of baby boxes.  In fact, their extensive use in Europe   where they are generally called babyklappe, has been heavily criticized by child welfare advocates. The United Nations has condemned their use on human rights and right-to-identity grounds and has asked for their removal.  Recent news reports suggest that the boxes, most of which are privately operated, not state-franchised, will be on the way out in a few years.The State of Indiana recxently refused to codify baby boxes into law, but Monica Kelsey claims she will install them anyway.

Safe haven organizations in the US, particularly Save Abandoned Babies Foundation and AMT Children of Hope, whose founder is the president of the National Safe Haven Alliance have also condemend their use. I’ll write more about them later.(also see KABOOM!) International; adoptees, especially Korean, have mounted campaigns to stop their use,

So where does all this leave women like Mary Grace Trinidad? Condemnation, of course, is a natural but useless reaction. Trinidad’s circumstances have nothing to do with baby boxes. No baby box in the world is going to alleviate unacknowledged or secret pregnancy, poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction.  Instead, baby boxes continue the cycle of abuse and shame. In 2012, Yvonne Fritz, director of Catholic Women’s Welfare Service in Geissen Germany, who has worked with the babyklappe program there told Der Spiegel,  “The abusive partner, the drug addiction, the family, all those things are still there.” Most of the time, she adds, the woman’s troubles are even worse than before. “Because now she also has her own conscience plaguing her over the fact that she gave away her own child.”

I’ve really thought hard about how to end this blog, but I really don’t have an answer to where this leaves Marygrace Trinidad and her baby–who by the way is reported as of this writing to be in good condition. Trinidad may still be hospitalized.

Maybe there is no answer; maybe there is,  but I do know that exploiting Marygrace Trinidad and women like her and their babies to push a political agenda isn’t one of them.

UPDATE:  Marygrace Trinidad has been ruled “mentaly unfit” for arraignment and is scheduled for transfer to Patton State Hospital for evaluation. It is believed that if she had been arraigned last week her bond would have been set at $2 million.

Yes, indeedy.  This is a woman who most definitely would have used a baby box. Where isthe compassion for her? Definitelhy not with the baby boxers.



2 Replies to ““If there had only been a baby box…” Musings on the Marygrace Trinidad Case”

  1. Have you ever considered the child?? The actual human being who was involved in this case and will grow up to know the details of his birth story and have to read blogs like this someday because the internet leaves a trail of every freaking blog that someone finds trendy to write?? The child who you seem to know so much about is my son. And the woman who you just spent countless hours writing about and publishing for the entire world to see is the woman who carried my most precious gift I’ve ever received for 9 months and brought him into the world. If I could change his birth story I would, but all that matters to me now is that the baby boy who my husband and I adopted last year grows up knowing he is just as deserving of a wonderful life as any other child and deserves the respect and privacy of any other human being. So the next time you are looking for your trendy topic o’ Your blog, why not consider the potential hurt and damage you could be inflicting upon your subject and their loved ones.

    The very protective and loving adoptive mother of the child you just embarrassed in your damn blog

  2. When I had my son I would have found it impossible to give him away for any adoption, although in fact I did contemplate doing so. A social worker had discussed the option with me before my baby was born. But when it came down to the wire It was just impossible. When he first looked into my eyes as the doctor laid him over my abdomen, the bond that had grown during the past months was sealed.

    My son was mentally impaired with autism and epilepsy, which didn’t matter at all to me, and or my love for him. My husband that I married when he was three was the greatest father for him I could have possibly found.

    My son died almost two years ago, on the 28th of this month it will be two years, epilepsy. Nothing has been the same since. I have a great store of memories

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