IF you’re anything like me, you’re feeling a little heartsick this week. And you’re asking yourself the question: How could a mother possibly abandon their baby in such a cruel and heartless way?
You don’t have to be parent to feel something for that poor little guy, surviving – somehow – at the bottom of drain.
We don’t know all the gory details yet, which will likely spill out over the coming days. The woman who birthed the tiny baby in the drain has been arrested on attempted murder charges and all that we know for sure is that she wasn’t a frightened teenager – she was reportedly 30 years old.
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Thankfully, in this particular case with this particular little boy, a tragic ending has been miraculously averted. Passers-by somehow heard his tiny cries and he was rescued from certain death.
But as I began searching out more information on this story over the last few days (hasn’t everyone?) my thoughts drifted. I began allowing the ‘what ifs’ to play out…
What if the cyclist never heard him? What if the cyclist didn’t stop?
What if it rained? What if the weather had been hotter? What if he’d landed at a different angle when he was dropped into a hole in the ground?
What if, what if… Well, none of those outcomes eventuated. This time. But there must have been many babies born throughout Australia who have been abandoned over the years, and who tragically weren’t discovered in time.
As a parent and simply as a human being, I feel sick to my stomach knowing that there are people in this world who are capable of such depravity.
This child’s ‘mother’ (I use the term loosely) could have surrendered her baby anonymously to a church, a hospital or even on a neighbour’s doorstep. She could have wrapped him up and deposited him somewhere she knew he would be found and cared for.
That wasn’t the outcome she cared about – for whatever reason, her baby’s safety was a lower priority than concealing his existence.
In the United States, safe haven laws exist to help in this very situation, by allowing pregnant women to drop an unwanted baby at a hospital, police station or fire station with no questions asked. All throughout Europe, in a similar vein, anonymous ‘baby hatches’ have been in operation for many years.
Meanwhile in Australia, baby abandonment is treated as a criminal offence, with parents liable for prosecution.
I don’t know if baby hatches are the answer in Australia? Who knows. All I can hope for is that the publicity surrounding this case somehow shows other women in a similar situation that there are other options – that you can adopt your baby out. And that for this beautiful baby boy, his rocky start to life represents his darkest moments, with a much brighter future ahead.