A Safe Place for Abandoned Babies: Dumpster or Cradle?
The recent discovery of an abandoned baby in a dumpster in Calgary, Alberta is shocking enough, but it is even more so considering all that has transpired, or at least what has been alleged about the unfortunate event.
The circumstances surrounding the abandonment of this baby seemingly are getting more bizarre. The mother apparently has said she did not know she was pregnant — something that many mothers may find difficult to believe.
Then, the boyfriend of the baby’s mother apparently came home to check on her, as she hadn’t been feeling well, but was beckoned while outside of his home by someone who heard a baby crying in a dumpster.
The boyfriend having heard the crying infant, climbed into the dumpster, and rescued the obviously abandoned baby. The police were called, and and the boyfriend was later told that he is the father of the baby he rescued.
Having viewed a few of the alleged father’s interviews with the media, the young man seems shocked and bewildered that his girlfriend was pregnant, and now has the added trauma of rescuing a abandoned baby that is alleged to be his child.
The abandonment of this baby brings to question a number of issues. How is it that a woman does not know when she is that far along into her pregnancy? Apparently this does happen. Personally, I have watched a few episodes on television that are supposedly factual accounts of women who did not know they were pregnant until they gave birth. Perhaps this is true for the young mother in Calgary? Perhaps she really did not know she was pregnant until she delivered the baby. Hopefully, further investigation and the psychological assessment of the mother may prove to bring the answers.
I believe the larger question for most would be, how does anyone abandon a baby? It should come as no surprise, however, that babies have been abandoned for centuries. But does that fact make abandoning of infants any less shocking or more acceptable? Of course not, when the abandoning is done where the infant has little to no chance of surviving.
But, as far back as medieval times and through to the 19th century, “foundling wheels” were used by many mothers, in many countries. The foundling wheel was similar to a revolving door which was usually situated in an outside wall of a building. The foundling wheel enabled mothers, no questions asked, to place their baby into the cylinder-like device, then turn it in order that the baby would be placed in the inside of a church or hospital, where the baby would be received and cared for.
The modern form of the foundling wheel is referred to as a “baby hatch”. In Vancouver, British Columbia at St. Paul’s Hospital the safe place for abandoning a baby is called the “ Angel Cradle”. The program, Canada’s first, started in May of this year and received its first baby this summer. The Angel Cradle is located near the emergency room of the hospital. About thirty seconds after a baby is placed in the bassinet, an alarm automatically rings to alert staff. The baby is immediately examined by a doctor before the infant is turned over to the Ministry of Children and Family and Development. The mother may leave the baby anonymously, and without any legal charges against her.
With the finding of the abandoned baby last week in Calgary, it has raised the question if Calgary is in need of a Angel Cradle? This same question may very well be put forward again to Edmonton? I suppose the question we should be asking on behalf of abandoned babies is: dumpster or an Angel Cradle? ~ JS