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Where lies the responsibility
for abandoned babies?
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By Mike Fak

[APRIL 9, 2004]  The concept of abandoned newborn babies in this country is far from an easy subject to write about. How do you say what you think without sounding cold and callous? How do you not pass judgments upon all the parties involved in the abandonment of a newborn?

The Middletown infant story has brought the issue of infant abandonment to our county and to us. The problem of newborn abandonment had been a distant story for years as we read or heard of such stories somewhere else. Another big city tragedy, another repercussion of living in a ghetto, we would think, as we passed the news among ourselves.

The tragic story of baby Isaiah Mark, found in Middletown, has shown us all that we are not immune to the problems in this world. We also have now joined the brotherhood in needing to find solutions to make sure another such story doesn't make our community's newspapers, or any other community's newspaper for that matter.

Dawn Geras, president of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, supports changing Illinois abandonment laws to include police stations as a place where a newborn infant can be left with legal immunity.

The inclusion of law enforcement stations or anywhere else for that matter is fine with me. Any law that can save just one newborn infant should be enacted with haste. There may be a child still in womb whose very life might depend on the new law.

Estimates by the FBI of how many newborns are unsafely left in the environment nationwide range as high as five a week. The number is only an estimate. Many abandoned newborns, it is believed, are never discovered.

Many never-found newborns won't receive the compassion and caring of a community as baby Mark did this past week. How sad is it that we couldn't have directed that love to the living child rather than his poor remains.

The laws on newborn abandonment are truly important. They also, by their very need, are a solution only to the end result and not the solution to the cause.

Alison Koy, vice president of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, stated, "There are people who have absolutely no options; therefore, even though the law exists, they're stuck."

I really would prefer another word than "stuck," but in truth it is the best one I can think of myself. It is, no doubt, exactly as the people who abandon babies must feel.

My question is: Are we not supposed to be stuck in this world with all its problems and duties? When we exchange marriage vows, are we not pledging to be stuck with each other? When we bring children into this world, are we not stuck with the raising and nurturing of those children? We are stuck working to provide for our family. Many of us enjoy being stuck with supporting our schools and our churches and our passions. Many of the problems in this world are because too many of us perceive life only from the point of view of what is good for just ourselves. We have forgotten we are supposed to be stuck with each other.


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Perhaps we can commit ourselves to be more responsible parents, teaching values but making sure our children never feel they cannot come to us when something as horrifying as an unwanted pregnancy occurs in their lives. Perhaps we can commit to explaining better that, with all the marvelous things our children can enjoy in this world, unprotected sex is one that has the potential of lifelong ramifications. Perhaps we can teach better that facing up to our responsibilities, whether they come by choice or error, is the right thing to do.

For every infant who has been abandoned in a yard, or a dumpster or an alley, there is a story all its own. To pretend that every case carries the same factors would be unfair at best. Who knows what causes a person or people to have such perdition in their minds or such a total lack of concern for a baby that they could just leave it somewhere?

To be sure, leaving a baby still alive in the environment with little or no chance of survival must carry consequences. We all must remain responsible for our own actions, especially when they cause harm to another person. I believe that in some cases infant abandonments are nothing more than the callous acts of individuals who carry no concern for anyone save themselves. No doubt, however, there are cases of people with no family support, living in fear, without knowledge of options, who believe they have no other choice but to abandon a baby. Those are reasons, however, not excuses for the action of walking away from a living responsibility. Perhaps newborn abandonment is a byproduct of the "nothing I do is my fault" society that we have become.

The Save Abandoned Babies Foundation and other similar groups are important in our country. In effect they are watching our backs. They are trying to reconcile the mistakes made by all of us not parenting, not teaching, not caring enough and especially not demanding enough responsibility from our children to make the existence of such organizations unnecessary.

[Mike Fak]

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