I try to be kind. I really do. I read or hear or see certain things that are so stupid that I kick my kitty litter in the air and shout, “You doofus!”
There are other times when I’m just embarrassed. Embarrassed for the speaker, the nice, clearly well-intentioned guy who gets bamboozled and says something stupid. Like today. Fire Chief Richard Lopez; “I didn’t realize that we needed one more steps [sic] in this program.”
The program, of course, is Safe Haven Baby Boxes and its move into Carlsbad, New Mexico, courtesy of a $10,000 grant from the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department. (The state has no baby box law, but hey….!)
“I felt that our fire departments have always been a safe haven if that was the avenue the mother wanted to go down. I didn’t realize that we needed one more step in this program. That was an eye-opener for us.”
Chief Lopez need not apologize. No, he did not cut Baby Safe Haven class that day to go shoot pool with the boys or nod out for a few minutes after lunch while that point was covered. There was and is NO other step to make the state’s safe haven law “work.” It worked the way it was designed to work. That is, until Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc decided that it didn’t and started telling women and politicians, bureaucrats, and smalltown hoo-has that it didn’t,
As all good marketers do, SHBB Inc created a (non) problem and turned it into a perceived public welfare problem that only they could solve:
Traditional safe haven procedures have been used thousands of times, but that doesn’t mean that the law s are good or work, since somebody can –gasp!–see your face. I mean, dumping your baby on a kitchen table at the firehouse, even if you pull a hoodie over your head, is pretty personal. It’s intimate. It shouldn’t have to be. The system needs to be MORE anonymous. It needs to be mechanized, impersonalized, depersonalized, dehumanized. lt needs to be like an ATM or a midnight library drop-off of an overdue book. You need -total anonymity. No blame. No shame. No name. No face. Why, you might run into that firefighter 4 years from now at Walmart, and how contempts would that be?
So they Hi-Ho Silvered! into town (ust not in New Mexico) with their own private solution: baby boxes from their hands to your hearts. Boy Howdy! Abandoning a baby is not only legal now, but judgment and embarrassment free.
Ironically, lots of casual news and social media readers learning about this secret and hidden baby dump scheme for the first time, snark that the program must come from a bunch of liberals, and baby-hating feminists MEOW!!! It’s fun to tell them the truth, though some of them roll over then and think it’s a keen idea. That’s not so fun!
Anyway, it’s not like New Mexico (or the country for that matter) is in the middle of a baby abandonment epidemic. We aren’t tripping over babies in the streets. The number of known discarded infants in the United States is so low that no one keeps an accurate number. The last time anyone tried to make a semblance of numbers was nearly 30 years ago and those were taken from news reports. Today, the media remains the best source for raw information gathering, but following up on reported cases is nightmarishly impossible. Unless it’s a high-profile case, the news cycle runs out. The investigations, medical, and court records, and case dispositions are confidential or sealed. Goodbye data!
But, to get back to New Mexico: We found three discard cases there since 2019. SHBB Inc says 4 in the last six years but doesn’t document them. Here are the cases we’ve found The narratives hardly support the idea that boxes can “save babies.” They aren’t compatible with anything other than churning out publicity and passing the hat. Yet these cases were used to pimp a made-up problem and create a corporate solution: a demand for baby boxes:
- November 2019, Las Lunas. Kiria Milton, 30, was charged with 1st-degree murder in the beating death of her 1-month-old son while his father was out of town. (4-year-old son was unharmed). She called the police twice earlier in the month asking for help, saying she was “not right in the head” and didn’t want to hurt her children. The children were placed in the custody of their father for a few days, then returned to Milton for unknown reasons. . A week later she killed the infant. Milton was previously diagnosed with post-postpartum depression and bipolar disorder. Disposition of case unknown
- August 2021, Alcalde. A man called the police after he returned from an out-of-state trip, to report that his girlfriend, who used heroin during her pregnancy, appeared to be no longer pregnant. They found the body of a newborn boy wrapped in a garbage bag, in the bathroom of the mother’s camper. The mother claimed she gave birth elsewhere on an unknown date, passed out, and when she came to found the baby unresponsive. She told the father that she injected the baby with heroin to stave off withdrawal. No identifying information was given in news articles. Disposition of case unknown
- January 2022, Hobbs. : Newborn boy in garbage bag found by dumpster divers; survived Mother Alexis Avilla, 18, charged with attempted 1st-degree murder and child abuse. Avila told police she gave birth in her bathroom and then took him to the dumpster. The discard was caught on security video. The baby currently lives with his father, Stephen Astorga, 16, whom Alexis’ mother claims is a domestic abuser, and his family. Trial pending.
The Hobbs case set in motion state-wide campaign to install baby boxes. Recently after the legislature recessed before a sure-to-pass baby box bill had time to get through hearings, the state allocated $330,000 in grant money to partially finance baby boxes in towns across the state. Espanola, citing the Alcalde case, installed its own before the allocation was made.
A fella named John C Crosby said,
The first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise… and cultivate the delightfully vague.
I have no idea who John c Crosby was, but he sure hit the baby box campaign in New Mexico, and elsewhere, right on the nose. The Safe Haven Baby Box is the “delightfully vague.” with no promise of anything except feeling good about it. Thus, Chief Lopez, once “got it” and then didn’t. The bully machine continues and well-intentioned people fall into lockstep.
Poke the Bear?
We Poke Back!
Day 5: NAM/NAAM/NanoPlano
Originally posted: Stop Safe Haven Baby Boxes Now! November 5, 2022