18-year-old mother regrets leaving child in baby box
Baby boxes first came into use in the Czech Republic in 2005, offering mothers unwilling to care for their newborn an anonymous and above all safe means of giving up their baby. Fifteen newborns have been saved since. But the most recent case, this January, is more unusual than most. First, the young mother who gave up her baby is now being investigated by the police. Second, she has changed her mind and told the media she wants her baby back.
“I had no money and we had problems with finding a place to live. My boyfriend was out of work and that was the problem. I basically left my baby thinking that I would come back for her later. I didn’t ever think that I wouldn’t see her again.”
“The allegations in the press concerning abuse aren’t true. Even the police said so. I don’t know how the fracture happened: it’s possible that I wasn’t careful enough when I was dressing her, and that I bent her arm badly. But I never noticed anything wrong, and neither did the staff who picked her up at the baby box.”
Even if the baby’s mother is now cleared of suspicion, it is clear, given difficult family circumstances that she will need help in caring for her baby. There, local social services may help, and she is due to meet with representatives on Friday.
Meanwhile, others point to baby boxes’ importance in this and other cases the country has seen, saying it is an important safety valve which makes a difference. A little earlier I spoke to Ludvík Hess, the founder of the Czech baby box system:
“The decision by the mother to put an unwanted child in a baby box is of course preferable to abandoning the child anywhere else and by now most know that if you leave a child in a baby box, it is not a criminal offence. This case was a little more complex, given that the police are involved. But that is for different reasons: the mother will not be charged for using the baby box.”