Michigan: Baby bopping and boxing with Bethany Christian Services

On Monday, November 7, Spartan  Newsroom (Michigan State University) published a piece from Capital News Service,  20 years of safe delivery for Michigan’s newborns, commemorating the anniversary of Michigan’s legalized infant abandonment Safe Delivery law.  Popularly known as the “Safe Haven law, it permits parents to drop off inconvenient newborns, anonymously with no questions, at authorized locations such as hospitals and fire stations. I’ve written about Safe Haven laws dozens of times here, so key in  “Safe Haven” in the search box to learn more.

According to the article, over the last 20 years, 288 newborns in the state have been “rescued” through the program.  The number itself is probably accurate as a stand-alone of actual cases attributed to the law, but the idea that 288  babies were “rescued” or “saved” from actual discard and death is not.  This NAM November I actually planned to write about the misleading and absurd number of SH cases in Michigan. I still might do that, but for now, I want to concentrate on the underlying message of this article: legalize Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Michigan.

The article is essentially an advertisement to amend the state’s Safe Delivery law to include stuffing a newborn in a  box-in-a–wall as a reputable and legal method to “rescue” infants” from allegedly homicidal mothers and move them into the adoption mill. A very specific mill: Bethany Christian Services. After all, Michigan Right to Life moans that there are 36 couples for every 1 adoptable baby…baby being the operative word.  More product is needed to fulfill the demand.

Backtrack a little

In 2018, the Michigan legislature voted to amend the state’s Safe Delivery law to include “newborn safety devices,” a nice name for Safe Haven Baby Boxes. But then the unthinkable happened.  Governor Rick Snyder, a supporter of the Safe Delivery law, vetoed the measure believing it was a bridge too far for Michigan parents to be permitted to cross.

Since then, Safe Haven Baby Boxes, Inc, the purveyor of the baby box movement, has been nagging and niggling a reboot.  Two weeks ago, 2 bills, SB708  and SB710 were introduced in the Senate to allow boxes, and an adjunct third bill, SB709, was introduced to add regulations on reporting the death of a newborn “surrendered” via baby box.

Since the bills were introduced awfully late this year for much action to jump off, I expect a full-court press for passage next year since they will carry over to 2022.

The pressure to pass comes not only from the usual suspects, SHBB Inc and Michigan Right to Life (boxes stop abortions),  but from baby grubbing Bethany Christian Services, a powerhouse in “child welfare” in the state, and nationwide,  backed with arm-twisting and big bucks by way of the Devos Family.  Ironically, the National Safe Haven Alliance, whose members created the Safe Haven concept, actively oppose boxes.

Education by Bethany

According to the article, Bethany “educates” medical professionals (and undoubtedly, its associated evangelical  “crisis pregnancy centers” and related ministries and organizations) on the Safe Delivery “option” who presumably will pass along the info to their distressed patients and clients–even if secret/concealed pregnancy and delivery–with no medical intervention–is the defining element of newborn discard.  Once a pregnancy is revealed, chances of discard plummet.  From the article:

“We find, all the time, medical professionals that aren’t familiar with (the law), and do need to be educated about it,” said Dawn Baker, the director of infant adoption. “There is a need for broad education, so that people can be aware of it.”

Bethany Services uses the free educational materials provided by the Division of Maternal Health on its website.

“We talk long and hard about this law to whomever will listen to us. We do education with our hospitals and help to train those medical professionals that are going to encounter these women who come in,” Baker said.

Baker later, praising the Safe Delivery program, seems, in the context of the article, to praise safe-delivery-by-box, claiming it protects women from abuse, IOW,  secret pregnancy/birth/surrender with the aid of baby boxes slides  the real problem of misogyny, sex shame, physical exploitation, and violence towards women under the arcane rug of “confidentiality:”

Many times that’s done when there’s been sexual assault, where there’s been abusive relationships and there is fear of identifying all the individuals that are involved.

Baker was aided and abetted by Nate Bult, senior VP of Public and Government Affairs at Bethany with a weird chime-in about how non- unbureaucratic surrender, which includes boxing, is a form of closed adoption.

A number of the moms who choose safe delivery have a closed adoption,” said Nate Bult, the senior vice president of public and government affairs at Bethany. Closed adoption means the birth parent(s) will have no direct contact with the adoptive family.

What? A number? Try all of them!  They are anonymous moms! By law.

Closed adoption is problematic, to be sure., and today it is rare. It’s a hard nut to crack for adopted people and first parents trying to connect years later, but can be worked around by the restoration of adoptee rights to genuine physical, but sealed records held in government agencies and departments,  as well as numerous modes of identification and  ‘“search” outside of government and adoption industry moderation. 

State-facilitated anonymous “safe deliveries” and baby boxes are permanent identity erasure, not closed adoption.

I have no idea why this spurious equation of closed adoption and anonymous ‘surrender”  baby boxing is hitting the boards other than to  (1) confuse lawmakers and the public (2) incentivize parents considering the utilization of boxes to believe they are a normal and ethical form of ‘surrender” and adoption; (3) re-normalize closed adoption; (4) whisper the idea of uninformed relinquishment and fast-track adoption into the ear of vulnerable women.  Of course, the promotors of this blither-blather could also just be ignorant. Whatever the reason, remember that Bethany has accomplished more than 10,000 adoptions in its lifetime and for decades has opposed the adoptee rights movement. 

The Investment

So why is Bethany so invested in “safe delivery” including baby boxes?   Do we really have to guess? I checked the Michigan Department of Health and  Human Services webpage  Bethany isn’t alone in this battle for babies. It’s just the biggest. Every adoption agency in the state is in the game.

After surrender and an examination at a hospital, upon medical clearance, temporary protective custody will be given to a private adoption agency for placement with a pre-approved adoptive family. Adoption agencies are responsible for accepting surrendered newborns and identifying loving families to adopt them.

According to the Spartan article, Bethany, in the last four years, has placed 30 Safe Delivery infants into their “forever homes” –11 last year alone!  Now, the article doesn’t say how many newborns were “safely delivered” last year but says 18 have been dumped this year so far. It looks like Bethany is reaping a majority or close to it, of the Michigan baby harvest and thinks it could gather a higher yield if boxes were set up and used. Since Bethany claims that it’s stopped colonizing overseas with its international adoption business, it has to make up revenue in some way. Domestic colonization sounds good–and cheaper.

The article fails to mention just how Bethany is working this financially.? There is nothing coming from the agency or the state telling us what Bethany charges for their Baby Bundles.  Does it offer a cut-rate deal as a mandated state service provider, or does it go whole hog with its usual $30,000+ per product?  What kind of a haul are they making off the misery of others?

These questions could be answered, at least in part, by record requests to the State of Michigan, which could take weeks or even months (if ever)  to secure, so for the time being they remain unanswered.

So fellow Bastards, Welcome to National Adoption Month!  Now shut up and be grateful you weren’t tossed in a dumpster–or a box. NAM: It’s all about us!



Day 10 of 30–
20 to go


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