Unwanted pregnancies and the consequent abandonment of newborn babies is a serious unsolved problem, especially in the United States. In most states of the American country abandoning a baby is illegal , for example in Georgia, where the voluntary abandonment of a child is a misdemeanor, which becomes a felony if, in addition to leaving the child, one leaves the state. But despite this, the numbers of homelessness for newborns are alarming . This is due, among other reasons, to the paradoxical situation in the United States, where since 1999 there has been a law called ‘ save haven ‘ thatdecriminalizes abandonment if the child is left in hand or in a place that is considered safe .
As an attempt to regulate this bad situation, what are known as ‘ Baby boxes ‘ have been created , mailboxes in which newborns who are not wanted by their biological parents can be deposited , so that they do not die in the open . It is an initiative carried out by the NGO Save Haven Baby Boxes that has been put on duty in fire stations, police stations and hospitals in different cities , and which has been brought to light by the BBC television channel.
Monica Kelsey , a former member of the Indiana State Fire Department, found out when she was 37 years old that it had been an abandoned baby , her biological mother was only 17 years old when she had it and decided to get rid of it only two hours after giving to light , leaving her to fate. This is why Kelsey came up with this proposal and is now the headliner and primary advocate for the entire baby mailbox initiative.
HOW THE ‘BABY BOXES’ WORK
Although some believe that the mailbox located in the Indiana fire station is like a kind of postal incubator, its operation is more complex than it can be intuited at first glance . It is true that the boxes resemble in their physical appearance a mailbox, an oven or an incubator, but with the latter they have more than a physical resemblance, since baby boxes have sensors that measure and regulate the temperature of the environment, for the well-being of the little one , just as an incubator would .
In addition, mailboxes for newborn babies have smart detectors , so when someone leaves a little one inside them , a kind of silent alarm is triggered that alerts the emergency services , so that they can rescue the baby in a period of less than five minutes (although some sources claim that it is a period of less than three minutes), which serves to prevent the little ones from suffering cold, hunger or being attacked by stray animals . One of the main complaints is that these baby boxes are so small that newborns can barely fit in them.
The mailboxes for babies that have just been born are at street level and may seem like they are used to send medium packages, but the technology with them is much more intelligent than you can imagine. After collecting the newborns, they are sent to medical centers where they are evaluated and, later, delivered to the State Department of Children’s Services , where those people with an interest in adopting or becoming foster parents of the rescued babies must be registered. .
AN INITIATIVE WITH CONTROVERSY
Newborn mailboxes are intended to save lives, for that purpose they were created in 2004 , but it is now that this measure has begun to be directly criticized. Some think that they make it easier than avoiding abandonment , others that it is a way of treating babies as mere objects , as if they were as important as a letter or a package. However, Priscilla Pruitt , spokeswoman for Safe Haven Baby Boxes, insists that this is “a last resort” , before it goes to this extreme the organization that Kelsey leads provides medical aid, social services and counseling so that they reject their idea of abandoning the little one.
The main objective of this proposal is to fight against infanticide produced by desperate mothers, usually young, insecure and alone , who when they give birth are not able to cope with the situation. Thus, the baby boxes try to reduce the number of abortions performed by these mothers, for which they have a 24-hour hotline for women interested in asking about the boxes, and through which qualified personnel has managed to persuade a large number of them not to deny their little ones , “We do not want to help them only to access the boxes, but something different,that they make a decision with peace of mind, from choosing a plan to raise their children or even to give them up for adoption “, says Pruitt, who adds that this has been one of the biggest impacts of the initiative.
The figures support the benefit of the Baby boxes. Data from the National Safe Haven Alliance affirms that since the ‘save haven’ law came into effect in Texas, more than 3,600 babies have been legally delivered across the country , but, on the other hand, there have been 1,500 illegal abandonments , and only a third of these little ones were found alive. However, when the mailboxes were put into operation in the state of Indiana, around 2,000 mothers in crisis were helped and no more dead babies were found after their abandonment . In addition, many women who face this difficult situation are not able to show their faces when abandoning their children.Therefore, instead of taking them to police stations or fire stations, they choose to throw them in garbage cans, portals or on the street itself , so the mailboxes make it easier for the little ones to stay alive.
Currently, mailboxes for newborn babies in the United States are only found in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, and Indiana , the latter state has the most, with seven of them. In New Jersey the process is awaiting approval after being vetoed. Other countries have also carried out this initiative: in Switzerland, Germany, Malaysia, Russia, Poland, South Korea and Pakistan you can find several Baby boxes in operation.