I just read an article about a Safe Haven being used in Indiana. A 25-year-old man dropped off a one-day-old baby at a fire station. He remained anonymous and stated that the mother – who was not present – also wished to remain anonymous and that she did not need medical attention. Since the baby was unharmed, the hand-off was allowed to take place.
I really hope these were simply two parents who were unprepared for parenting and who decided to give the baby up, and that this story will have a happy ending for all. But I admit, I’m suspicious. Even though ensuring the baby’s survival is far more important than trying to find out exactly what happened, I cannot help but think there are loopholes in this law that allow crimes to remain concealed.
The absence of the mother, and a man insisting that she does not need medical attention, is suspicious. Most young men are terribly afraid of childbirth and all related processes. They are not likely to witness a birth and then conclude that no medical attention is needed. Even in an easy, low-risk birth there is likely to be a lot of blood, and most young men do not see this amount of blood come from a person who did not need to see a doctor.
Furthermore, a woman may need medical attention in the days following a birth even if she appears to be fine right after the baby is born. She needs to be watched for signs of infection and hemorrhage. She may need stitches. She may develop a breast infection, especially since she is not likely to nurse the baby if she does not want to keep the baby. Many men also have never heard of a placenta and don’t know that it is supposed to be expelled shortly after the baby, and in one piece. Or, they may know a placenta is supposed to come out, but will try to hurry it along by yanking on the umbilical cord, which can cause it to be delivered in pieces, increasing the probability of the mother retaining one of those pieces and developing an infection.
The baby was delivered outside of a hospital – the man did not state where – and the umbilical cord was clamped with a hair clip. This is not necessarily harmful, but it suggests two people who delivered a baby themselves without knowing what to do. In a planned home delivery, a midwife will carry a birth kit with towels, blankets, a baby scale and cord clamps, as well as other items like lancets for drawing blood for certain tests and emergency drugs like synthetic oxytocin, which can stop postpartum hemorrhage. Although delivering a baby without a midwife is not a crime – I was born that way as well – the lack of inexpensive and easily obtained birth supplies suggests, again, people who had no idea of what to do.
Planned home births account for only around 1% of American births, and those are midwife-assisted births. Planned unassisted births are rare, and tend to fall into two groups: the first being parents who just decide that they want the pregnancy and birth to proceed as naturally as possible (such as my parents), and the second being people who, for whatever reason, are trying to conceal the pregnancy from everyone.
And, the most common reason for concealing a pregnancy is that the girl is underage; the girl is a drug user or has warrants; or, worst case scenario, she is being forced by someone else to hide her pregnancy and give up the baby.
Is this Indiana father someone who had a baby with his girlfriend and then they both decided to surrender it? Or is the girl perhaps this man’s ten-year-old daughter? Is she a captive? Is she an underage human trafficking victim? Did he steal a car with a baby in it? Did he steal a baby and then wake up sober the next morning with an unknown child, frightened and looking for a place to hide it?
Years ago I knew two 12-year-old twin sisters who were runaways. They left a home with an abusive father and a drug-using mother and just kind of bounced around wherever they could, going to school at a day center that served homeless youth, which is where I met them when I was seventeen and also a homeless youth. They were not prostitutes in the traditional sense as in they were not streetwalkers or girls who just liked fast cash; but they did trade sexual favors for places to sleep, as do many homeless underage girls. This is how one of the 12-year-olds became pregnant.
She had the baby at age 13 and kept her, while still living outside with her sister. She admitted the child was conceived by a 25-year-old drug dealer who was in the country illegally, and because of this, was denied help by all social service agencies except for the place that was helping her finish school. She couldn’t even get a food box unless she agreed to press charges against the “father.” She wasn’t going to do that, probably because she was 13 and was holding onto some hope that this man would help her and the baby, or perhaps because she didn’t want to be locked up for being a chronic runaway and separated from her daughter. So she was still prostituting herself with her sister and the baby in tow, and bumming diaper money any way she could while the “Christian” agencies that help out low-income new mothers continued to turn her away.
That was twenty years ago. I wonder if she, her sister, and the baby are still alive. My guess would be no. The system ignored and failed these girls since they were children, and another child had the misfortune to be born in that circumstance.
Regardless of what one thinks of grown men who have sex with twelve-year-olds, the baby is the one who suffered. She doesn’t know her mom is 13 and has maybe a fourth grade education. It’s not her fault that her dad is a drug dealer and pedophile. But she certainly won’t be getting any free clothing and diapers from the Christians because of, you know, all the sinning.
This girl was twelve. She did not look eighteen, or sixteen, or fourteen. It would be impossible for any man to think that she was a young adult or older teenager. Girls like her – and their babies – are who the Safe Havens are for, not knocked-up college students who just don’t want a baby. And when it’s not the girl who brings her own baby to be surrendered, I have to assume there’s a horrible reason why.