It's a slow day in our post-Christmas house, and I like it that way. I've been stepping around new toys and packaging detritus all morning as I slowly move into my post-holiday let-down. We don't do much with New Years and nothing really matches the big cultural Christmas push. I'm not really a big holiday person, anyway, but I understand the significance for some people, and family has always been important to me. For me, holidays are really about family.
So I was stunned and saddened when I saw this story of a young woman giving up her baby to a fire department under the Safe Haven law in California. I'm glad California has such a law if it prevents babies being dropped in dumpsters or other horrific places. But really the story had me wondering, what drives a parent to give up a child, especially on Christmas.
I think about my children and how I can't imagine my life without them. I think about their first few days of life and how utterly dependent they were on us. What compels a person to be willing to give up a child three days old? I don't mean this as a condemnation. It is a serious question. I just can't imagine what would compel someone to do that. Could it be financial hardship? The psychological pain of not being able to provide for a child? I live a fortunate life and don't have to contemplate those questions. We don't live extravagantly, but we can always put food on the table.
What kind of life has the mother condemned her child to? Can the little girl overcome the challenges? Will she learn of her past and wonder these same questions: what would compel a mother to give up a newborn? What kind of psychological damage could this cause? What kind of damage will it cause the mother, who apparently has three children. How does one make the judgment to say, I'm sorry #4 but I'm keeping the first three. You must go. I can't imagine a day would go by without me wondering what happened to my child. Maybe the mother is hoping the child will have a better life that she can provide. Maybe the mother, sleep-deprived and desperate made a rash decision. I can't imagine the decision was an easy one.
I guess it simply saddens me to think that someone would hold a newborn, feel its warmth, and the bond that only a mother can have for her child, and then give the baby up. I hope that the baby and the mother find peace in a world in which such decision need to be made.