Why are we looking for the teen mum who left her baby on a doorstep in Griffith in NSW on Sunday? Is it to offer her the appropriate post natal and emotional care or is it to impose our beliefs on her? Those beliefs being that society knows better than a 14-year-old about what she should be doing with her baby.
Please look after him, he is beautiful, and I cannot look after him because I am only 14 years old … my parents will kill me. – Anon teen mum.
This girl has made it clear she doesn’t want to be found and the search for her sends a very negative message to other woman who want to put their babies up for adoption.
It sends a message that you cannot give up your baby without consequences. In this teen’s case, her parents finding out leading to a lot of pain and suffering.
I know this is controversial. She is, after all, just a child and her parents are still her legal guardians. However, she is old enough to conceive and give birth to a child, then make a decision about that child’s care.
She’ll come forward when she is ready. She’ll tell her parent’s when she is ready.
Think about this, think about her. She’s had nine long, traumatic months to carry this secret around. She has gone to great lengths to conceal her pregnancy and then made a decision about handing the baby over to others, leaving a note that clearly expresses her certainty about her decision, her love for him and the reasons for her decision.
Instead of hunting her down we need to use this opportunity to discuss something we forget to discuss when we talk about being pro-choice.
One of those choices should be putting the baby up for adoption with no shame and no consequences.
The fact this teen had to secretly dump the baby is sad. It would have been great if she could have handed the baby over with support and no shame. With pregnancy all of our choices should be supported. As yet, giving babies up for adoption is not. Sure the movie Juno was cute and funny and quirky but reality is very different from portrayals we see in the movies. We feel empowered when the women in the TV show Love Child choose to keep their babies, banding together to help one another care for them while they work.
However the instant a mother says, "Hey, I can't care for this child," or, "Hey, I don't want to care for this child," there is a swirl of judgement and silent accusation.
What kind of a mother abandons her own child...
The kind of mother who knows enough about herself and her life and her situation to know that caring for a baby isn't a viable option for her, for whatever reason.
Look, it's complicated. There are consequences for giving up a child in the way this teen has chosen to do. She has left her baby on a doorstep. Resident Rodel Acuna tells News Ltd about hearing his doorbell ring just before midnight on Sunday and opening the door to find the three-day-old baby boy in a pink bassinet along with the heartbreaking note.
Superintendent Michael Rowan told reporters on Monday they are searching for the teen to ensure her well-being. "She’s not in any trouble whatsoever, there must be a reason why this has taken place, and we would like to assist her or members of her family and get to the bottom of it."
Of course there's are reason. She's 14, has fallen pregnant accidentally, chosen to hide that fact instead of tell her parents due to fear of the consequences and has made the decision to give him up, hopefully for adoption to a loving family.
In the movie Juno the pregnant teen tells her father and step mum that she is pregnant and giving the baby up for adoption. Article continues after this video.
The reason this has happened is because we, as a society, are not open to the idea of giving babies up for adoption.
The Department of Family and Community Services says the mother can approach them at any time and be involved in decisions about the care of the baby, and if she does feel strong enough to do that then I would encourage her to contact them. However this teen mum knows once she contacts authorities her parents will be informed and that's the part she can't cope with.
We don't know enough about her home life to know what the consequences of her parents finding out will be.
A couple of good things have come out of this sad event. The teen mum chose a good home to leave her child, with the resident doing the right thing and immediately contacting authorities. It's also reignited public debate about introducing "drop-off boxes" at NSW hospitals, allowing mothers to anonymously leave babies they cannot care for there without having to face any consequences, like a search to find them and the forcing of them to face the music.
What I would like to see is drop-off boxes at hospitals across the country and an excellent adoption program that sees loving families adopting these precious children whose mothers are not in a position to care for them.
Women who fall pregnant need support regardless of the decision they make about their baby's care. They don't need to be pressured to do something they don't want to do, they need to be supported regardless of what their choice ends up being.
To the teen mum at the centre of this conversation I just want to say to you that I hope you are feeling well and know that you can make contact if you feel you need to. I hope you can talk to your parents about this without suffering harsh consequences and I am sure your baby will be given to a loving home.
Support is here if you need it.
Kid's Helpline can offer assistance to teenagers struggling to cope with any issue. Contact them by visiting their website or by calling 1800 55 1800.
**The teen mum has been located since publication of this article, presenting to Griffith Base Hospital at around midday. Officers were contacted and hospital as well as Department of Family Services staff are reportedly caring for the mother and child.**