In light of a recent spate of babies being dumped in bushes and on trash heaps around East London, welfare organisations have urged mothers to find a place of safety to leave their unwanted babies instead.
Breath of Life director Roger Curran, who has been with the safe home since 2014, said one of the least known facts about child abandonment was that people have the option to do so at a police station.
“You are able to leave your child at a police station without being criminally liable. It also increases the chances of someone finding the baby in time and their life can be saved.”
When vulnerable mothers feel they have no choice but to dump their unplanned baby, East London Child Welfare adoption social worker Tricia Haywood told sisiter newspaper Daily Dispatch that she believed they most often did so in the hopes of someone finding their baby.
Explaining how she had worked in the past with mothers with unwanted pregnancies she said: “I would often get calls on my cellphone while the mother is still pregnant and we make arrangements for the baby. I don’t know what’s been happening these past few months with the babies that are being dumped.”
She added that in the past year Child Welfare had taken in three babies – one dumped in a pit toilet, one in bushes and one on a street corner. All were found alive.
“We would prefer that people call us when they are still pregnant because [the handover] will be done in a safer environment than dumping a baby in the trash.”
Curran added: “Mothers find themselves in difficult situations and are frightened by the adoption process because of the stigma sometimes but this is a crisis in the community and it needs to be highlighted.”
He added that while Breath of Life provides a safe and loving environment for up to six babies for a three-month period, they did not offer adoption services.
The King’s Children’s Home in Glen Eden has offered a place of safety for children in the toddler age group since 2008.
Director Tracey King believes babies were being dumped because the mother was quite often a teenager, and the father was not around to help raise his child.
“It is a huge problem in our city, especially in recent months. We believe in placing children with loving families so as to avoid having them grow up in orphanages or in foster care,” she said.