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"I'd like the Department of Missing Babies..."
September 11, 2008 11:10 AM   Subscribe

An 81-year-old man walked out of his house in suburban Boston yesterday and found a baby left on his doorstep. John Tuckerman was going outside to check the temperature before running an errand, and discovered a very newborn baby in a tote bag with a note. It's standard local news stuff, but I'm sharing it with you because the Newton, MA police released the 911 call that Tuckerman made and it's worth a listen.
posted by Mayor Curley (110 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Is the baby breathing."

If I heard that question, I would have replied: "God damn it, of course its breathing! I already told you I found a baby on my doorstep. Otherwise I would have said I found a dead baby on my doorstep!"
posted by ericb at 11:17 AM on September 11, 2008 [20 favorites]


*it's*
posted by ericb at 11:17 AM on September 11, 2008


I don't get it, what was interesting about the call?
posted by Perplexity at 11:18 AM on September 11, 2008 [13 favorites]


The 911 call is extremely straightforward.
posted by demiurge at 11:18 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aside from the man's hard-of-hearing responses and relative cool-headedness, I don't see how that was worth a listen. Am I missing a basic flaw of logic in what she asked him?
posted by zoomorphic at 11:19 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the 911 call is worth a listen because this 81-year-old man is extraordinarily calm and coherent.

I'd be like, "Holy shit, come quick, somebody left a baby on my doorstep. I mean, holeeeee shit ...I don't f'n believe it ... "
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:21 AM on September 11, 2008


You guys act like you hear calls about people leaving babies on their doorstop all the time. And the dude isn't freaking out either. I also would probably have the Cool Papa Bell response.
posted by chunking express at 11:23 AM on September 11, 2008


You'd have to be pretty high-strung to be flustered by seeing an unexpected baby.
posted by DU at 11:23 AM on September 11, 2008 [23 favorites]


Is there a transcript? I can't have audio where i'm at...
posted by schyler523 at 11:23 AM on September 11, 2008


Oh, I hear it now.
If you listen very closely at the end you can hear "I buried Paul."
posted by chococat at 11:27 AM on September 11, 2008 [17 favorites]


Mayor Curley, I see where you are going with this...

911: "Is the baby breathing?"

Man: "No."

911: "I am sorry to hear that."

Man: "Yea, I was kind of depressed too, until I dressed him in a clown suit."

911: "Oh, that's a good one. Want to know how to keep the baby from falling down a manhole?"

Man: "Sure."

911: "You stick a javelin through its head."
posted by clearly at 11:27 AM on September 11, 2008 [37 favorites]


Boring...
posted by tadellin at 11:29 AM on September 11, 2008


schyler523: "Is there a transcript? I can't have audio where i'm at..."

MAN: I found a baby on my doorstep. Can I eat it?
DISPATCHER: Poke it once or twice.
MAN: Okay. [pause] Okay, it made a little squeaky noise
DISPATCHER: Then it's fresh, yes, you can go ahead and eat it.
MAN: Thanks!
posted by not_on_display at 11:30 AM on September 11, 2008 [28 favorites]


Thats a very sad story, but I really think most people would have pretty much the same reaction in the 911 call. You've already had your "holy shit!" moment when you found the baby - now you've looked around, checked to see that the baby is alive, taken it in, realized that you should call 911, and are doing so. At that point you are more likely to be somewhat calmer and focussed on trying to help by being as deliberate and precise as possible.
posted by yhbc at 11:32 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Not on preview: very funny, you guys.
posted by yhbc at 11:33 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, those things are worth money!
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on September 11, 2008


Newton Lower Falls? Man, there's a "rich people in Wellesley" joke in here somewhere.
posted by giraffe at 11:36 AM on September 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Newborn abandoned outside Plymouth Township fire station

They released the 911 call, too. It was the mother, calling to tell them where she had left it.
posted by fixedgear at 11:37 AM on September 11, 2008


"Please take good care of this baby."

Well, he took care of it in time-honored Newton fashion. He called the cops.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:38 AM on September 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


MAN AskMe: I found a baby on my doorstep. Can I eat it?

FTFY.
posted by The Bellman at 11:38 AM on September 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


You'd have to be pretty high-strung to be flustered by seeing an unexpected baby.

So ... I left you something special. Look behind you.

/me sits back, waits
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:39 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Here are some facts about me, so you can put what I'm going to say in the proper context:

1) This happened 15 miles from my house, so it's got that local angle.
2) I listen to at least an hour of what most people consider dry news on a daily basis (NPR). In fact, I'm probably an NPR listener's NPR listener, in that I enjoy Marketplace.

This was a totally boring news story.
posted by Plutor at 11:39 AM on September 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm disappointed he didn't use AskMe to determine what to do with the baby. I would've said DTMFBA.
posted by electroboy at 11:40 AM on September 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


I remember when a crane fell in New York City, it made the front page of newspapers around the country, Digg, reddit, even Metafilter.

And I kept thinking, it's just a fucking crane.
posted by plexi at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't get it. What's the interesting part here.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2008


Massachusetts' so-called Baby Safe Haven law allows parents to surrender an infant seven days or younger at a police station, fire station, or hospital. [...] Representative Barry R. Finegold, an Andover Democrat who helped sponsor the law, said lawmakers recently approved $25,000 to publicize the program, which he said is working.

Their commercials aren't nearly as good as the FAST stroke cartoon.
posted by giraffe at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't get it either, the call was straight forward, handled well by both sides... why is this noteworthy?
posted by HuronBob at 11:44 AM on September 11, 2008


"It wasn't what he was expecting," Detective Nils Anderson of the Newton Police Department said

No shit.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:44 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Was it an alien baby? How many heads did it have? Was it wrapped in duct tape with an alarm clock and wires sticking out of it? Because I see no reason why people are surprised the man didn't get a case of the vapors over this.
posted by rocket88 at 11:45 AM on September 11, 2008


So, the Baby Safe Haven law is the new foundling wheel?
posted by zamboni at 11:46 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the usual 911 call, the caller is frantic, because someone is hurt; the operator is trained to stay calm and try to get the relevant information in a prescribed sequence. The questions pop up on a screen in response to what they type, and the information is critical for paramedics to know before they get there. In this case, she probably typed in a code for "abandoned child", and the screen asked for an age and whether the victim was breathing.

What often happens is that the caller takes the calm deliberateness of the operator as disinterest or incompetence, and later complain about not being taken seriously. So, it is, in fact, somewhat remarkable how calm the caller remained, but I'd kind of expect that from an 81-year-old dude.
posted by beagle at 11:47 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


A man walks into the street and manages to get a taxi just going by.

He gets into the taxi, and the cabbie says, "Perfect timing. You're just like Frank."

Passenger: "Who?"

Cabbie: "Frank Feldman. He's a guy who did everything right all the time. Like my coming along when you needed a cab, things happened like that to Frank Feldman every single time."

Passenger: "There are always a few clouds over everybody."

Cabbie: "Not Frank Feldman. He was a terrific athlete. He could have won the Grand-Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star and you should have heard him play the piano. He was an amazing guy."

Passenger: "Sounds like he was something really special.

Cabbie: "There's more... He had a memory like a computer . Could remember everybody's birthday. He knew all about wine, which foods to order and which fork to eat them with. He could fix anything. Not like me I change a fuse, and the whole street blacks out. But Frank Feldman, he could do everything right."

Passenger. "Wow, some guy then."

Cabbie: "He always knew the quickest way to go in traffic and avoid traffic jams. Not like me, I always seem to get stuck in them. But Frank, he never made a mistake and he really knew how to treat a woman and make her feel good. He would never answer her back even if she was in the wrong; and his clothing was always immaculate, shoes highly polished too -- the perfect man! He never made a mistake. No one could ever measure up to Frank Feldman."

Passenger: "An amazing fellow. How did you meet him?"

Cabbie: "Well, I never actually met Frank. I just married his widow."
posted by netbros at 11:48 AM on September 11, 2008 [30 favorites]


"Dear AskMe: I'm driving down 128 near Newton and I've had a baby. What should I do?"

DTMFA
posted by bondcliff at 11:50 AM on September 11, 2008


netbros, did someone buy you a Big Book 'o' Jokes for your birthday?
posted by yhbc at 11:51 AM on September 11, 2008


Damn you, electroboy!
posted by bondcliff at 11:51 AM on September 11, 2008


what they don't say is that the baby had a chinese takeout menu stuck under its arm.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:52 AM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Remember that WKRP episode where that lady left her baby at the station, and Johnny bonded with it?
That was waaay better than this.
And it had Jan Smithers.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:54 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm probably an NPR listener's NPR listener, in that I enjoy Marketplace

I fucking HATE Marketplace. I'm going to start leaving work earlier do I don't have to hear that asshole's pretentious, condescending voice.

From Los Angeles...it's MARKETPLACE!

Arrgh!
posted by goethean at 11:57 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bloody faeries.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:57 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Eh, I thought it was interesting.
posted by delmoi at 11:58 AM on September 11, 2008


Maybe its Trig?
posted by cimbrog at 11:58 AM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


he's a cool guy, I like him
posted by matteo at 12:00 PM on September 11, 2008


Probably part of the Bush No Child Left Behind program
posted by Postroad at 12:05 PM on September 11, 2008


They edited out the part where the guy lists seven songs and the operator has to guess how they are connected.
posted by starman at 12:07 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Newton's a big city. I wonder which village this was in. Might've been in my neighborhood.
posted by Eideteker at 12:09 PM on September 11, 2008


Well, he took care of it in time-honored Newton fashion. He called the cops.

Touche.

Can't believe my Hans Zimmer remix was interrupted to listen to this call
posted by jsavimbi at 12:09 PM on September 11, 2008


Newton's a big city. I wonder which village this was in.

If you listen to the recording, the gentleman states: Newton Lower Falls.
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on September 11, 2008


I don't get it, what was interesting about the call?

I think it's the fact that the guy lives at BEEEEEEEEEEEP. I mean, how do they name their streets up in New England??
posted by inigo2 at 12:12 PM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


I remember when a crane fell in New York City, it made the front page of newspapers around the country, Digg, reddit, even Metafilter.

And I kept thinking, it's just a fucking crane.


I might have to recalibrate my sarcasm meter, but weren't people killed in that incident? Wasn't it a larger story about cranes being inspected, large hulking metal objects sort of haphazardly bolted to the sides of buildings, unexpectedly falling, etc?

The baby story not so much. It happens frequently enough that we have this safe haven concept. I know, it's a human life, but it just happened two days ago about five miles from my house and it didn't occur to me to post it here. Though in the Philly-area one the mother said something like 'I put a safe haven baby by the flagpole outside the firehouse' and the 911 dispatcher said 'a what?'
posted by fixedgear at 12:14 PM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


The old guy had just watched Children of Men and so he was totally like "Okay, be cool. Humanity might need this one someday."
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:21 PM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


All jokes aside, I thought it was interesting to note that the police think she (the baby) ended up at that house "because it is one of the first residential streets off Route 128 South". I wonder if the mother knew the neighborhood. The odds of the baby not being found for hours or even days are staggeringly high.

Also, this isn't the first I found a baby on my doorstep story I've read in the news this week. Leaves me kind of wishing someone would leave a baby on my doorstep -- does it make me a bad person that if this happened to me I'd have trouble surrendering it?
posted by anastasiav at 12:21 PM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


it's worth a listen.

Does "worth a listen" mean "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick"?

Did they edit out the funny/interesting part? Doesn't this shit happen all the time?

Are we missing something?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:25 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


netbros, did someone buy you a Big Book 'o' Jokes for your birthday?

No, but my birthday is next month. ;)
posted by netbros at 12:26 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm with anastasiav. I would absolutely want to adopt a baby that had been left on my doorstep.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:26 PM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the mother knew the neighborhood. The odds of the baby not being found for hours or even days are staggeringly high.

If you drive down the street you hit one of the most affluent towns in the state with some of the best public schools in the state, so probably not.
posted by giraffe at 12:27 PM on September 11, 2008


Newton's public library is pretty awesome though.
posted by giraffe at 12:28 PM on September 11, 2008


I don't get it. What's the interesting part here.

The cycle of life.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:31 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of amazed that nobody is commenting on the tragedy here. That a woman gave birth to a child, and then abandoned it. What sorry state is her life in that this course of action seemed reasonable?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:40 PM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hey, a bulk deal on diapers, not too shabby!
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:43 PM on September 11, 2008


she couldn't find the orphanage.

... that's cause Newton, MA isn't mid-1800s dickens book.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 12:45 PM on September 11, 2008


"If you listen to the recording, the gentleman states: Newton Lower Falls."

Thanks. I can't listen right now, as I'm at work (no transcript, grr!).

I was probably at the hospital around the time the infant was brought in. Or I'd just left (around noon).
posted by Eideteker at 12:46 PM on September 11, 2008


When we babysit for friends and family, my wife never lets me abandon problematic children in the wilderness. I'm all "The ancients did it!" and she's all "Shut your noise, you."
posted by everichon at 12:52 PM on September 11, 2008 [15 favorites]


I fucking HATE Marketplace. I'm going to start leaving work earlier do I don't have to hear that asshole's pretentious, condescending voice.

How strange. I'm a fan of Marketplace. I started listening a few years ago; before that, I always thought business/economic news was deathly boring, but Marketplace pulled me in. And to me, Kai Ryssdal's voice is one of the best things about it--I hear a voice that's knowledgeable and confident, yet able to explain things to me in terms that I (mostly) understand without coming off as pretentious or condescending. So much so that, when someone other than Kai is hosting, I'll often switch the radio to something else.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:59 PM on September 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


We're all overthinking a plate of babies here.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:04 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you drive down the street you hit one of the most affluent towns in the state with some of the best public schools in the state, so probably not.

Yes, but affluent doesn't mean that the family isn't on vacation or the resident doesn't have one of those jobs where you, you know, have a two hour commute in Boston and then work ten hours and have a two hour commute home.
posted by anastasiav at 1:10 PM on September 11, 2008


I think the man's calm is pretty impressive, given how unexpected it would be to open your door expecting the morning paper and get the morning ... baby instead.

Not something you usually tip your paperboy for, just sayin'.


As an aside - could you guys refrain from the dead baby jokes? Some of us have had miscarriages or stillbirths and those are an unhappy reminder of those events. Dead children are rarely funny to those of us who have held one in our arms.
posted by FritoKAL at 1:11 PM on September 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


As an aside - could you guys refrain from the dead baby jokes? Some of us have had miscarriages or stillbirths and those are an unhappy reminder of those events. Dead children are rarely funny to those of us who have held one in our arms.

True, an actual dead baby isn't funny. Still, humor is one of our defense mechanisms as human creatures to stuff that's actually pretty grim. S'why it's called "gallows humor" - an actual gallows isn't funny at all, as anyone who has been hung (or watched a hanging) would attest.

No one on MetaFilter is going to stop making off-color jokes while the Earth is still spinning around the sun. It's better to remember that they're not at all talking about actual dead babies and hey, it's just a joke. Everybody has something that truly, truly bothers them, and if we all stopped making jokes that someone else might find to be uncomfortable, we'd be like those feminists and their lightbulbs. That's not to say we should be downright mean, but I don't see anyone in this thread doing that. Certainly no one is making any connections to dead-baby jokes and any actual specific dead babies.

(This thread reminds me of the "leaving a child on a doorstep" discussion gone haywire in MeTa a while back. I guess people really *DO* this, but it does boggle my mind.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:23 PM on September 11, 2008 [12 favorites]


(PS: Anyone delivering babies in the greater Boston area is welcome to leave one on MY doorstep. KTHNXBAI.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:24 PM on September 11, 2008


FritoKAL requested:
"As an aside - could you guys refrain from the dead baby jokes? Some of us have had miscarriages or stillbirths and those are an unhappy reminder of those events. Dead children are rarely funny to those of us who have held one in our arms."

My deepest condolences on your loss. I can only imagine your pain, and, as someone whose greatest wish is to conceive and deliver a healthy baby but cannot, the trauma of promise and loss seems like a far more difficult event to overcome and work through. May healing be yours.

Admission: I am now watching this thread with great curiosity to see response to your request for what could be very selfish reasons, and I am telling you this in order to ask your pardon for doing so. Based on responses to those who have asked for an end to rape jokes, I am interested in where the compassion boundary starts/ends.
posted by batmonkey at 1:26 PM on September 11, 2008


(PS: I like grapefruitmoon's idea - I'm here for any Austin babies needing a loving family.)
posted by batmonkey at 1:27 PM on September 11, 2008


He should have sold it to Madonna.
posted by Elmore at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. What's the interesting part here.

Mefites' humor.

... sorry, fritokal, you could have just skipped this thread? ...
posted by Surfurrus at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's not an unreasonable request for people to be compassionate and remember that humor is in the eye of the beholder. Saying "It's just a joke" for this is no better than saying it about racist humor, rape jokes or anything else that is considered -extremely- upsetting to people. That is where I draw the 'funny/not funny' line - when your so-called humor causes others -pain-. Save your gallows humor for people you know won't be upset by it and not a generalized discussion forum where you should uphold a certain standard of decency.

If you wouldn't make these jokes in the middle of the mall at volume, don't make them here.
posted by FritoKAL at 1:39 PM on September 11, 2008


I think it's not an unreasonable request...

I think it's not an unreasonable to take to to MeTa, if your hide is adequately chapped.
posted by everichon at 1:53 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I truly believe that the greatest act of love a mother can show her child is to give it up in order that the child be raised in a warm, loving, atmosphere free from want or fear.

I don't disagree; the tragedy is that she feels she is unable to bring her child up in that sort of atmosphere. I mean.. she feels it is better to leave the child on a total stranger's doorstep. To me, that says there is something really, really awful going on.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:12 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If anyone wants to drop off Kai Ryssdal on my doorstep, I would be more than happy to take him in. A kitten would also be nice.
posted by 912 Greens at 2:12 PM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


If you wouldn't make these jokes in the middle of the mall at volume, don't make them here

That might not help you here....
posted by Debaser626 at 2:13 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you wouldn't make these jokes in the middle of the mall at volume, don't make them here.
You've clearly never been to the mall with me.

posted by davros42 at 2:28 PM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Doesn't this shit happen all the time?

I admit that I was unaware that this sort of thing was yet happening in the 21st century, where hospitals have accessible-from-the-street, warmed incubation units into which unwanted babies can be deposited and reallocated to loving homes. Putting one's baby in an actual basket on an actual doorstep with an actual note pleading for mercy is some Dickensian stuff. I can't imagine the mindset that would have led someone to do that; it seems like an act of someone impetuous and therefore youthful, but also an act from an era long past. Fingers crossed for the babe.
posted by cirocco at 2:45 PM on September 11, 2008


I remember when I found the baby on my doorstop. It was a tiny thing, and pink, and crying. Maybe I should have called the cops first, but, honestly, the crying was getting to me. It was so high and shrill and uncontrolled. I worried the neighbors might hear. So I bundled it up in its bantlings and did for the baby what I did the last time I cried like that: I poured it a big glass of scotch.

The baby slept, and while it slept, I thought about my options. I stared at the phone. I could call 911, but then the police would come, and how would I explain that? This is a gated community, and everybody knows each other. This sort of thing wouldn't go unnoticed. I would have to explain myself at the next community board meeting, and what would I say? It was just left there? With a note? People would talk. They would probably say the baby was mine. They would make up stories, I know it. They are such terrible pests. They already invent stories about my drinking. They claim those two weeks I spent in the hospital last year were the result of me drunkenly climbing on my roofing and shouting abuse at them, and then falling off. That's not true at all. I was cleaning leaves out of the chimney, and I hadn't had more than one glass of scotch. So I can't imagine what they might say about this baby. Probably say the mother is a crack whore. Say I forced myself on her and paid her in crack, and I was drunk when I did it.

No. The police would not be called.

I thought about the flower garden in the back, and a midnight funeral, but quickly put those thoughts out of my head. I couldn't do it. At least, not sober. And there was so much risk. What if someone saw? I would have a hard enough time explaining a living baby. But this?

I remembered my unused room in the basement. I thought about it for a long time. I could slide flat food under the door. Crackers. Pop Tarts. Matzoh. Nobody need ever know anything. The baby would live out its life in relative comfort, although, I suspected, that life would be terribly lonely. But what's so bad about being lonely. I'm lonely. I'm so lonely that sometimes I just cry and cry and cry.

But it wasn't so simple. I didn't know what to do about toilet issues. And it might make a lot of noise. And it's a flimsy door. Sure, a baby couldn't break through it, but a ten-year-old can. This idea was not going to work, as appealing as it might be.

The baby stirred, eyes opening, and it stared at me, cross-eyed and gurgling. I panicked. I bundled it up again and ran out the front door. I paused a moment and looked around. There was nobody.

The Luteson's wouldn't be home for at least another half-hour. And sprang across my yard and up to their door, clutching the baby, and set it at their door. Then I turn and bolted back to my house, slamming the door, panting hard. I opened the door a crack and peered out.

Nobody saw.

I went for my scotch. Later that night, I fell off my roof again.

I was in the hospital for two weeks. I came home on a Tuesday afternoon. There was something on my front step.

I didn't even look. I just carried it over to the Luteson's and set it there. I don't know if it was a new baby, or if the same baby had just been circulating from house to house for 14 days.

Tonight I reinforce the door in my basement. Tomorrow, I'll figure out how to create a crawlspace to the bathroom down there. Then I'll stock of on matzoh. Matzoh for the little one. Scotch for me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:53 PM on September 11, 2008 [17 favorites]


Christ, the audio made me choke up. The desperation of the mother, the situation the old man is put in, and finally the pause by the dispatcher after he reads the note.
posted by pianomover at 2:57 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Putting one's baby in an actual basket on an actual doorstep with an actual note pleading for mercy is some Dickensian stuff.

Dude was probably hoping for a Christmas Goose.
posted by dhammond at 3:03 PM on September 11, 2008


anastasiav

In general adoption is better than raising a child in a home you know is unsafe. For instance if she were a homeless woman in a crack home or something.
But I have to respond to your views here:

I personally would say that is better for a mother who feels she cannot raise a child to surrender that child to a loving home.
Dropping your new born on any old doorstep qualifies as better? Why not adopt or give them baby to someone you actually know?

I truly believe that the greatest act of love a mother can show her child is to give it up in order that the child be raised in a warm, loving, atmosphere free from want or fear.
That is in no way the 'greatest act of love'. The greatest act of love is to raise the child in a stable home. If a mother has the foresight to think that the home will be unstable then, again, go with adoption. You don't leave a child on a doorstep. That is crazy and not an act of love.

But she's so brave - so very brave - as are all mothers who give up their children for adoption.
This mother, [if indeed is was the mother] is not brave. A brave mother would keep the child and raise it - even as a single mom. Leaving a baby on a doorstep is nuts. It's also an easy cop out. Not responsible. Not smart. Not brave.

I can only hope that now the child will find a good solid home. But I cannot imagine the child would like to grow up to hear that they were left on a doorstep.
posted by Rashomon at 3:11 PM on September 11, 2008


Looks like the stork has been hitting the ol' bottle again.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:19 PM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


The safe haven laws are great, but I have a feeling that some moms still feel ashamed at giving up their babies and just don't want to face another human when doing so. Even though they don't have to give their names or any other info, they're going to have to look someone in the eye while saying "I'm giving up my baby." Sad to say, there is still enough of a stigma attached to that gesture that prompts women to leave their infants on doorsteps.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:24 PM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


and finally the pause by the dispatcher after he reads the note.

Yeah, that's what got me.
posted by rtha at 3:26 PM on September 11, 2008


Everyone's obviously missing that the interesting part was when he said that he lives at "ninety motherfucking shit-as cuntlicking penis holy sweet mother of fucking Christ Newton, Lower Falls." That's just a bizarre thing to say.
posted by Dr. Send at 3:45 PM on September 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


As an aside - could you guys refrain from the dead baby jokes?

Seems simpler for you just to not click on threads that, knowing metafilter, you have a high probability of being annoyed or hurt by.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:48 PM on September 11, 2008


[a few comments removed DO NOT bring other MeFites into a thread where they are not participating just to slag on them, period.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:52 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


and finally the pause by the dispatcher after he reads the note.

Yeah, that's what got me.


She's just typing.

I thought the call was completely non-remarkable, too. But the jokes in this thread have more than pulled me out of my pit of despair meh.
posted by mrnutty at 3:52 PM on September 11, 2008


Christ, the audio made me choke up. The desperation of the mother, the situation the old man is put in, and finally the pause by the dispatcher after he reads the note.

Me too. The note was really moving, simply by its simplicity and Victorian nature. And a basket, damn. One has to suspect also that the excellent selection of doorstep shows that some thought went into the activity.

I'm really not sure if I can condemn the mother. At least it's a clean and beautiful start, very mythic. "The System" will grind you up; perhaps this was best for mother and child.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:21 PM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Save your gallows humor for people you know won't be upset by it and not a generalized discussion forum where you should uphold a certain standard of decency.

If you wouldn't make these jokes in the middle of the mall at volume, don't make them here.


A "certain standard of decency" is something that you'd be hard pressed to find on MeFi. What's one person's "decent" is another person's "PLZ FOR THE LOVE OF G-D PUT SOME PANTS ON."

Though I am personally not making any dead baby jokes, I would indeed make off-color jokes in public at full volume. I often have. Quite often, in fact. Where I draw the line, personally, is if the joke is specifically being mean to someone. If I were having a private conversation with someone who had experienced the loss of a child, *of course* I wouldn't make jokes. On MeFi - snark capital of the world - making jokes about things is akin to breathing air.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:34 PM on September 11, 2008


Hasn't been linked in this thread yet, so MeTa, which I suppose would have been a more appropriate place for my previous comment. D'oh.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:45 PM on September 11, 2008


It's not a very interesting story, and that's the dullest audio clip I've heard in a long time. Why the post?
posted by zardoz at 5:12 PM on September 11, 2008


Thank you for posting that audio clip.

It was nuanced. Some people won't get it. Others will need to listen to it about 10 or 20 times and they might.

Wow. What a conversation. I won't be able to sleep tonight.
posted by surplus at 5:34 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Springsteen says there are some kinds of bravery you'll never understand.
posted by surplus at 5:36 PM on September 11, 2008


Springsteen says there are some kinds of bravery you'll never understand.

He would know. "Beautiful girl sittin' on the hood of a Dodge givin' birth in the warm summer rain'..."
posted by fixedgear at 6:41 PM on September 11, 2008


I would've felt compelled to say 'better treat this as a life and death emergency because if my wife gets home before you arrive, it's gonna take two SWAT teams to get that baby out of here'.
posted by jamjam at 8:15 PM on September 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised that anyone's surprised that women abandon babies. We've grown up hearing these stories every few months or so. It's very frequent. It has been for hundreds of years in the written record, and it still is. In fact, I can't help but wonder if it's more frequent now that access to legal abortion has narrowed in the US - but I can't speculate too much about that, because no one can give numbers. There is no federal agency collecting data on infant abandonment, and no requirement to the states from the federal level that abandoment data be collected or reported at the state level.Here's an NYT story from the late 90s about how one group arranges funerals for discarded infants. Hundreds of other stories are at your fingertips; a Google search for "abandoned baby found" returns 790,000 results. This report cites a Department of Health & Human Services study from 1998, and states:
Research on the discarded infant population islimited. States are required to submit data to DHHS on the number of children who enter foster care due to abandonment. However, there is no record of national statistics on the number of infants discardedin public places (e.g., dumpsters, trash bins, alleys, warehouses, bathrooms) (DHHS, 2001). Currently, data on the number of discarded babies is difficult to estimate given that prevalence figures are determined through the use of media reports rather than official records. The DHHS (2001) study used newspaper reports from the Lexis-Nexis database to estimate the number of discarded infants. In 1992, there were 65 reported discarded babies. In 1997, 105 were reported, representing a 62% increase. Of the total number of discarded infants in 1997, 33 were found dead, compared to eight in 1992. These differences, however, may not be indicative of actual increases in incidence but rather the result ofincreases in media reporting. A recent North Carolina study of neonaticide found 34 newborns who were killed or discarded by a parent within a 16-year period, 1985-2000 (Herman-Giddens, Smith, Mittal, Carlson, & Butts, 2003). This represents 0.002% of all live births in North Carolina during this time.
I agree with the ACLU that
Virtually every case of infant abandonment signals that the health care and social service system has failed a woman and her baby, for surely a well-functioning system would enable a woman either to prevent unwanted pregnancy, to end it safely and early, or, if she decided to carry to term, either to keep her child or to place it, again safely and swiftly, for adoption.
And, though safe haven laws have struck some states as a good idea, what I've learned about them has not convinced me that they prevent abandonment, and I'm concerned about how they don't allow for the exercise of parental consent rights by whichever parent is not present (usually the father). The laws are all young and seem ill-formed and perhaps unconstitutional in some cases. The ACLU says:
It is also important to ensure that the bills do not present an overly simplistic, or even misguided, approach to a deeply sensitive and complex issue. At stake in the safe surrender context are the due process rights of the surrendering parent, the parental rights of both parents, and the rights of the surrendered infant. The safe surrender laws exist among myriad other state laws affecting these rights. In a comparative analysis of many of the safe surrender laws enacted to date, we have found tremendous variation in how comprehensively the laws address the intricacies of the rights and issues implicated.
Personally, I find the stories about "throwaway babies" very depressing. They're eagerly covered, and predictably a souce of outrage. We're shocked, shocked that such a thing could happen, and full of compassion for the child and condemnation for the mother. But the outrage seems to falter and evaporate when it comes to finding true solutions. Where is that concerned crowd and that wound-up local media when it comes to finding the means for helping women and girls avoid unplanned pregnancies in the first place, or find support and safety in which to complete their pregnancy and proceed with legal, informed adoption?
posted by Miko at 9:08 PM on September 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


full of compassion for the child and condemnation for the mother

To clarify, I wasn't condemning the mother. I feel terribly sorry for her that her life is in such straits that abandoning her newborn on a stranger's doorstep seemed like the best option. We failed her.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:02 PM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've run out of "meh" as that 911 call actually got me misty-eyed. It might be his first 911 call in his 81 year old life, and he's calling about a baby left on his doorstep.
posted by dabitch at 12:14 AM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Regarding the social policy aspect, I agree with DNAB and Miko, and this is exactly the sort of thing that the Democrats need to bring up to distinguish themselves in family-morality terms, from the Republicans.

(Fortunately, considering this is Boston we're talking about, the baby wasn't covered with blinking lights.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:33 AM on September 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I also have to wonder... in these cases, how often is post-partum depression a factor? Does it set in that quickly? And if it is a factor, how much worse is it made--or, how much more difficult is recovery--when the mother comes out of the depression and realizes that she will never see her child again?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:59 AM on September 12, 2008


I always wonder about domestic violence in the homes of women or girls who give up their babies like this. It's easy to say that if the baby is unwanted, it should be adopted out - but what if the baby *is* wanted, but at the last minute the mother decides that she can't bring a child into the situation she finds herself in? She may not be able to get as far as a hospital if she has limited time to herself, or limited transport options. And in that kind of situation, the baby would be safer just about anywhere than it's own home.
posted by harriet vane at 2:39 AM on September 12, 2008


And, though safe haven laws have struck some states as a good idea, what I've learned about them has not convinced me that they prevent abandonment

According to the NYTimes, you're right. And if you look at the implementation of the law, it makes perfect sense to me why it doesn't work: "New York’s version of the law, the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, was passed in 2000, decriminalizing the act of abandoning an infant, as long as the baby was left at a specified safe place and someone was informed." If you are to the point where you're going to abandon your baby, I can't imagine you're in a mental place where you want to walk into a hospital, look someone in the eye, and tell them you want them to take your baby.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:42 AM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I always wonder about domestic violence in the homes of women or girls who give up their babies like this

When I was in high school, there was a local case that recieved a lot of (harsh) notice in the local media. A teenage mother had delivered her baby in a bathroom, adn then drowned it, and then tried to kill herself. She was very young (14? 15?) and no one had known she was pregnant. She was vilified in the media. My mom, a journalist, was privy to some private details of the story which were never reported - that the girl, who was from a blighted and blown-out neighborhood and had below average intelligence, lived with her single father, who was an abusive alcoholic, and that it was probably his kid. I think domestic violence, or the threat of it, is probably a factor in these cases more often than not. Since it's not something that anyone in a remotely normal frame of mind would choose to do, something is pushing these girls and women to extremity, as TPS points out. It is so easy to deliver a baby in a medically safe environment for free, and arrange for legal adoption, that the only situations in which I can imagine someone choosing not to do that are those in which (a) the mother is afraid that the fate which would befall herself and/or her child would actually be worse than the course of action she's choosing, or (b) the mother is incapable of reasoning rationally because of drugs, mental illness, or disability.
posted by Miko at 11:27 AM on September 12, 2008


And I would have named her Leela.
posted by SPrintF at 12:43 PM on September 12, 2008


Findees should totally get naming rights.
posted by Artw at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2008


Both my daughters were abandoned by their birth families- although in a city in China - this interests me as I've thought a lot about what it must feel like to abandon a child on a door step. I only have total sympathy for the mother's plight and best hopes for the child.
posted by trii at 6:06 PM on September 12, 2008


It's heartbreaking when things like this happen. I have to join the others on this thread that said if a baby got dropped off at my house, I would be really hard pressed to give it to the system which is so full of FAIL.
posted by dejah420 at 12:23 PM on September 14, 2008


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