In Case Our Little Princess Doesn’t Like Her Sibling, I’ve Checked Out the Baby Safe Haven Locations Near Our Home
Of course, this research and reconnaissance might all be moot.
When our angel Williamsburg was born, I took her in my arms, held her close, and — delirious with joy and the physical and mental fatigue that comes from 36 hours of labor — whispered in her ear: “I will love you forever and ever, to the moon and back and then back once again to the moon, and more than I will ever love anyone else, including your mother.” And I have kept that promise for the past five years, supporting our perfect daughter in every way possible, protecting her from threats foreign (the neighbor’s hyper-affectionate cockapoo) and domestic (the occasional spider in the bathroom), and being her greatest champion, her role model, her hero. And she deserves it all and more.
As if we’d had any doubt that Williamsburg is as bright as she is beautiful, she made it clear that she’s been paying attention to what we say when, after she had a chance to digest the big news, she took me aside and asked the difficult questions. “Daddy,” she reminded me, “you said you’d always love me the most. So you won’t love the new baby as much as you love me, right? You can’t, or else you’ll be a liar.” My little girl had a point.
“Williamsburg,” I said, “I think you’ll see that we’re all going to love your new brother or sister. And if we don’t,” I added, entirely unnecessarily and regrettably, “we’ll give her back.”
Well, that was two weeks ago, and not a day has gone by since that my sweet, darling Williamsburg hasn’t mentioned this promise, as she precociously calls it. And because a promise is a promise, and a little girl has to be able to believe (in) her father, and because you can’t technically give a baby “back” when it’s born, I’ve been researching our actual options. Fortunately, as it happens, our state has some of the most lenient “safe haven” laws in the country. A parent can anonymously leave a child, up to 30 days old, with a “responsible person” at a “suitable location” and not face criminal charges. And to take some of the guesswork out of the process, such suitable locations are clearly marked both on the buildings themselves and in Google Maps.
The hospital where my wife will be giving birth is, as one might expect, a designated Safe Haven drop-off spot. It would be the height of convenience to simply leave the new baby where it comes into the world, but we do want Williamsburg to give her new sibling a chance, so we’re going to encourage her to make the most of the thirty days allotted us by statute. But once we’re back at our house with the new bundle of potential joy, there are several places closer to home where we can deposit an unwanted infant.
“I think you’ll see that we’re all going to love your new brother or sister. And if we don’t, we’ll give her back.”
The fire station is the nearest to our house geographically, but I’m not sure that I would trust the personnel there with a baby. For one thing, every firefighter in our district is a volunteer, and I think a child would benefit from a more reliable parenting arrangement. Never knowing which firemen — and they are all men, as far as I can tell — are going to be on duty — and indeed which will even re-up for another tour from year to year — would likely cause a little boy or girl to have a profound fear of abandonment. Also, kids can’t eat chili, and I’ve never smelled firefighters cooking anything else.
The police station seemed at first like a better option, being that a police force of a community exists expressly to protect and serve, until I remembered that in addition to some of the very best individuals in society, some of the worst are also to be found on the premises, from time to time. Surrounded by criminals is no way to spend one’s formative years. My parents didn’t like when I had long conversations with my mother’s brother, and he had merely been accused, but never convicted, of seven counts of malicious mischief. There are women at the precinct, which is a bonus, but at least half of them are probably prostitutes.
Finally, there’s the 24-hour CVS on Main Street, next door to the walk-in urgent care clinic, which I admit I was surprised to learn was a Safe Haven, but Google Maps clearly shows the icon there. When I visited the store, however, my reservations were quickly assuaged. The CVS has on-site everything a baby might need to thrive — there’s an entire aisle of childcare supplies, after all, not to mention licensed pharmacists on staff. Notwithstanding a brief, comical crossing of wires with the manager (I asked if the store indeed took babies; she, a responsible person, directed me to a 1,000-count box of BBs), I left with a Heath bar and a good feeling about the place.
There are women at the precinct, which is a bonus, but at least half of them are probably prostitutes.
Of course, this research and reconnaissance might all be moot. Williamsburg might love her little brother or sister — or at least learn to tolerate her inside of thirty days — and we’ll be able to keep them both. We’ll be one happy family, forever and ever, to the moon and back, twice around the sun, and then to the second star on the right and straight on ’til morning. I’ll just have to remember never to tell my new son or daughter that I love him or her more than or as much as anyone else, at least not within earshot of his or her older sister, and all will be well.