While police continue to search for the parents of the two-week-old baby girl who was abandoned in Freeport last Thursday, one child rights activist is calling for the creation of safe spaces for unwanted babies.
Diana Mahabir-Wyatt told Guardian Media she does not believe the child was left in the bushes behind a bus shed by her mother.
“Nobody is looking at the fact that this baby was dressed in a pretty pink onesie, with pink booties and wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, that is not the action of someone who does not care for a child, that is that action of a mother who values her baby,” she said.
Mahabir-Wyatt said the child may have been left there by another member of her family as she said the increasing rate of domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic must also be factored into determining why the child was abandoned.
“It may have been the baby’s father or somebody around the mother who took the baby and left it in the bushes, either to get revenge on her because there is a lot of that going on these days or because they didn’t want a baby around themselves.”
She is advocating for safe spaces to be created for teen mothers and others who may not be able or willing to care for their children. Mahabir-Myatt said in most cases when a baby is abandoned, the parent or parents do not want to be identified.
She said creating “baby boxes” could save the lives of unwanted babies.
“As far as I think it would probably have to be a community based or religious organization where they have a place where people who don’t want a baby or for some reason can’t look after the child, can place the baby so it can be immediately found or found within an hour or so by a shelter which is set up to look after unwanted babies.”
Mahabir-Wyatt said mothers who abandon babies often are scared that their families will find out they have given birth and are desperate for that not to be found out.
In the United States, ‘Safe Haven’ boxes are placed at fire stations so babies can be left in a safe space. The boxes are outfitted with a silent alarm, alerting firefighters that a baby has been placed there and allowing the parent to leave without having to meet or interact with anyone. The child is then handed over to authorities.
Guardian Media contacted the Children’s Authority in whose care the baby girl has been left since she was found.
The Authority did not release any details on the child’s ethnicity or health but said it will provide the necessary interventions in the best interest of the child.
The Authority is advising parents who wish to give up their children for adoption to contact them.
“There is no penalty to parents who wish to give up their child for adoption, however, if a child is abandoned, there is a penalty which is why the Authority is encouraging persons to contact the organisation at 996 or 800-2014 to discuss the necessary options.”