It was Christmas Eve in Los Angeles when a 27-year-old woman walked into a fire station and handed over her baby girl, just six hours old. In honor of the holiday, the baby, who was healthy and showed no signs of abuse, was named Noel by the firefighters.
While I get teary thinking of this baby girl who will perhaps never know her mother, and how she will someday be confused and perhaps angry at her mother for giving her up, I hope she also comes to see her for the courageous, heroic woman she is. I hope she will know her mother didn't abandon her, but rather she surrendered her in what was surely a compassionate, yet desperate, act of love.
Every day the news is filled with horrifying headlines of mothers who abuse, neglect, and inflict harm on their children. Plenty of other houses are filled with the same that never gets reported, yet the children are there suffering. We see them and think: if only they knew a different life.
For whatever reason, Noel's mother must have felt she needed to provide a different life for her daughter. Perhaps she has other children she has trouble providing for, or she's out of work, or mentally ill, or just knows herself well enough to know that a child would be better off without her as a mother.
The reason why doesn't really matter. If a mother, who has carried a baby for nine months, delivered her into this world and looked into her sweet little face, can bring herself to give that child up, then the reasons for doing so must be pretty significant. And for her to be brave enough to recognize those reasons and not drop her in a trashcan somewhere in an act of cowardice, but to march into a fire station and hand her over, shows remarkable strength and love.
I'm sure some will fault the mother, but I can't think of many acts more selfless.
Perhaps it's a decision the mother will regret at some point, and California's Safe Surrender law that allows mothers to give up their babies without facing abandonment charges, does have provisions in that case. Perhaps she's suffering a bad case of postpartum depression and made a decision that she'll see more clearly in coming weeks or moths. And if that's the case, I hope they're reunited.
But if it's not, then I hope that mother in the midst of the bouts of guilt and doubt and shame and sadness she's bound to experience, knows that she did the right thing and gave her daughter what will likely be the best gift she'll ever receive.
Do you think mothers who give up their babies under such laws are heroic?
Image via normanack/Flickr