Abandoning Babies, Callous or Desperate?

Yesterday, I saw shared headline on someone’s FB feed: Homeless men rescue newborn baby under bridge.

abandoned baby

Image Credit: The Beeld


The story broke my heart, like so many of these abandoned baby stories. But, because of the work I’ve done with Trinity Heart, there is one thing I have learned, from all my communications with birth mom’s over the past few years. These cases are often not about callous irresponsibility on the part of the mother but more about desperation, lack of education, about not having a support structure, feeling alone and terrified and not knowing what their options are.

I’ve had birth mom’s contact me from as far as Namibia, desperate for assistance, 18 years old and she’s been living on her own since she was 16! Young women, thrown out by their families. Young girls still in school, terrified and alone. Young women who need a place to stay, who need medical care, who are crying out for help with NO ONE to help them.

One story has stuck with me, a birth mom I was trying to help get into a place of safety, she had no shelter, her family had thrown her out along with her 1 year old child, as this was her second pregnancy and she was still just a child herself. Her story will haunt me after her friend from school took over our communication as I tried to help, she attempted suicide, drank poison and caused immeasurable damage to her unborn baby.

Even I, as an educated women, well versed in all things adoption, didn’t know who to refer her to, how to help her, where to find her a place to stay, a place of safety. So if I, who has easy access to information and the “right” people to help this girl, couldn’t help her, didn’t know where to refer her to, how to find her a place to stay, how is she, a terrified 17 year old supposed to know how to help herself? How should she know where to turn? Her story will haunt me forever.

And she is not alone, there are thousands and thousands of women out there who find themselves in the same situation. Victims of rape, who wind up pregnant, school girls, child headed families, the list of horrors goes on and on.

So I refuse to believe that every woman who abandons does so because she’s callous and doesn’t care a damn about the life of her baby, I believe that in SO many of these cases, their actions are driven by extreme fear and desperation and a sense that they have no where to turn, no one to help them and their situations are utterly hopeless. They feel they have NO alternative.

It’s heart breaking. We have failed our young women. We have failed to educate our youth about their options, I don’t believe our sex education is teaching our children what they need to know, I do believe that preaching abstinence is futile to a teenager, they’re going to do what they’re going to do, lets educate them about their options, about safe sex, about what they can do and who can help them should they find themselves in this position. Lets educate them about adoption and the process, of who to contact and where to go.

Let’s not judge them as callous and cruel but see their actions for what they often are, a desperate plea for help unheard.


  • Pandora

    February 19, 2014 at 11:22 am

    So true. The only thing to add is that there is also not enough help available, there are not enough safe places to be found. We are totally failing them. I know someone who works in one of the baby homes, and hear the stories all the time. Babies left in hospitals and at churches or mosques. This shows me a hope that the baby will be taken care of by someone who can. It just breaks my heart.

  • ludditelass

    February 19, 2014 at 11:48 am

    My heart breaks for baby Amber and her desperate mother. Thank goodness for the quick thinking of the two homeless people who found the baby. Now baby Amber can get the help she needs. I hope her mother gets the help she so obviously needs too. It is an indictment on all of us that Amber’s mother felt she had no where to turn to and no one to help her.

  • reluctantmom

    February 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I always read these stories and try to bear in mind “if this was the best option you had available how desperate must you have been, and how bleak must the other options be that were presented to you…”

    It is so easy to judge people as weak, or horrendous or “why have children if you can’t look after the child” – but I think that we in suburbia are so far removed from the “real” situation that girls and women have to face every day in so many poor and under funded communities – that we cannot truly understand what they must go through.

    “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest.”

  • Julia

    February 24, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Stories like this break my heart into a million pieces. I refuse to judge though – I think that people panic, they become desperate and they are afraid of judgement. I just pray for all the parties – that’s all that I can do. And I agree with Luddite Lass’s comment 100%.


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