The “discreet” childbirth proposal that the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) party wants to relaunch in parliament is no solution for mothers who leave their newborns in the baby box in Antwerp, says Moeders voor Moeders, the non-profit that created the box 17 years ago. “The fact that the data is registered to give the child a chance to find its origins later is already too much for them,” argues Katrin Beyer, of Moeders voor Moeders (Mothers for Mothers). “We’ve learned from experience that if you give them the possibility of giving birth in total anonymity, the mothers are often tempted to leave their data spontaneously.”
Thus far 13 infants have been found in the baby box set up in Antwerp’s Borgerhout district in 2000, including four this year. “By 2012, there had been three, then none the following year, so it’s not easy to identify trends,” says Mrs. Beyer.
“Based on the calls received on our hotline, we have found out that many mothers with nowhere to turn come from outside the Antwerp region,” she adds. “Most are even French-speaking.”
“That’s why we regret that the initiative in Brussels has been criticized so much. The babies that are deposited in the box are, almost always, less than 24 hours old. A mother from the Charleroi area therefore has to jump into a car just after giving birth to come all the way to Antwerp. That increases the risk of her opting for a solution that is closer, but much riskier.”
Of the 13 children left in the baby box in Antwerp, at least one mother came back on her decision, Katrin Beyer explained, adding that in the other cases, a form of contact was established.