Toyin Odumala, a woman who was abandoned as a baby, is pushing for the introduction of baby boxes in the UK. The concept, already implemented in the US, China, and Europe, allows parents unable to care for their child to leave them in a safe location. Odumala’s campaign follows the recent discovery of a baby girl abandoned in a shopping bag in Newham, East London.
Odumala was born in July 2001 and left outside a block of flats in Plumstead, South-East London by her mother. She was found by dog walkers who alerted authorities. Now 22, Odumala is determined to end the abandonment of babies on the streets.
She was 11 when her adoptive parents revealed her past. She learned that she had been left at the top of a flight of stairs leading to a block of flats. Odumala was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, where nurses named her Osie, a name she still carries as her middle name.
After discovering her past, Odumala was given the chance to contact her birth mother, who had previously come forward following an appeal. Her mother explained in a letter that she did not have the right papers to stay in the UK and thought she would have to return to the Ivory Coast. However, she now lives in the UK with Odumala’s four half-siblings.
Odumala’s online petition for baby boxes has garnered over 30,000 signatures. The boxes are installed at specific locations like hospitals and fire stations and are temperature-controlled with sensors that alert emergency services when a baby is placed inside. In the US, parents who abandon their babies using these boxes are protected from prosecution as long as the baby is healthy.
However, charities like Save the Children do not support the baby box scheme as it contradicts advice from The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The UN states that the boxes violate the child’s right to be known and cared for by their parents. Instead, Save the Children advocates for more support for families to prevent poverty and other issues, so no baby is abandoned.
Odumala hopes her online campaign will continue to gain support and prompt the government to consider the idea. The Department of Health and Social Care did not comment on the petition but stated that improving care before, during, and after pregnancy was a top priority. They are investing in expanding mental health services and improving neonatal care across England.