Yesterday afternoon my newsfeed on Facebook began to light up with a story about a mother who dropped off her 9 month old and 2 year old at a Houston Fire Department and said she didn’t want them anymore.
Gasp. Horror. Shame on her.
What a terrible mother…right?
And I’ll explain why.
First of all, the article states that Texas has a Safe Haven law in place where parents can drop off a child at any fire department on or before two months of age and have no legal penalties. Apparently, this mother knew something of this law and was trying to use it.
Anyone who’s ever had a baby and a fight against postpartum depression will tell you it is a real thing. A real deal. And many times it takes far longer than two months to set in. I mean, I applaud the law for what it is attempting to do – save lives – but two months can just begin to be the onset of such serious depression.
I have had friends who have had such bad post partum that they called for help and asked for family to come take the baby. NO SHAME IN THAT AT ALL. A few days of sleep and some other changes made and mom, baby, and daddy are all happy years later to report that with proper help and support they overcame a very dangerous time in their lives.
I have another friend whose sister took the life of her baby and herself (get that: murder/suicide!)…She now dedicates her free time and efforts into spreading awareness and bringing hope and help to families suffering in the wake of postpartum depression and psychosis.
This mother is walking in shoes most of us can not identify with. She was told by the father of the children that he didn’t want them. Authorities are trying to find extended family members to take the children but my guess is that if this mother thought that any of her family would help her, she would have gone to them for help or a break from her kids instead of the fire department. Who knows what her financial situation is — but I can take a pretty good guess. Who knows what her educational background she has and therefore what kind of opportunities she might really have to provide for this baby?
Even under the best of circumstances, when I had Daly Kay and Ryli at about the same age spread as this mother…I had a husband, a home, stability, and education (thanks to my parents) and a deep set of support through my family, my husband’s family, and my church…how can I dare to judge her in her desperation when she so obviously has none of that? How can any of us?
I actually applaud this mother for seeking out a safe alternative instead of what end such depression can dangerously bring (how many cases of matricide/suicide have we all seen in the news?). Instead she gave her children to a known safe place and is hoping they find a better living situation than what she feels she can provide. I am the beneficiary of four women making such incredibly tough decisions as that is how I came to be able to adopt my four children. The fact that they had decided to do this before the child was born does not make their decision any easier than a woman who decides after 2 years of parenting that she just can’t hack it.
Of course I am not advocating for every mom to go give up their children at the local fire house at the first set back they experience. Of course I am not all for mass abdication of responsibilities of parenthood just because “we don’t like it anymore.” I am simply asking my readers to evaluate honestly what you would do in your darkest moments without your husband, family, faith or church family to help you. I don’t think she took this decision lightly nor do I think she thought she had any better alternative. Or surely she would’ve chosen it.
A better question instead of “How could she do this?” is “Where is her support system?”
And if her immediate support, as in her family, is unable or unwilling to step up and help, then where are her neighbors? Her church? Her friends? The real question is, “How does a woman get this low without anyone intervening beforehand?” Because in the first case I mentioned where a friend reached out for help during the darkest of her postpartum depression, she literally had an army mobilized to help her in a matter of hours. The second case of the matricide/suicide that I mentioned, came right out of the blue…the family was shocked because the mother seemed so healthy and happy. Not all tragedies can be avoided, but I think what this mother did definitely prevented another far worse outcome.
For those of you in shock and saying the worst about this mother, just realize…you’re only agreeing with what the awful voices in that woman’s head are telling her.
You’re agreeing with everything the father of those children told her.
You’re only repeating the same broken record she’s heard her whole life.
Folks, we need to be reaching out to those young moms and especially the single moms around us and be a support and an encouragement. Instead of the rage we all feel, let’s be intentional about reaching out to the single moms in our neighborhoods…at the park…in the pick up line at school or at the bus-stop. Let’s bring them hope and help and encouragement in any way we can.
It’s what Jesus would do.
And if you know someone suffering with postpartum depression, please go to www.jennyslight.org for help and resources.