The Baby Box


Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at baby boxes – a way to protect newborn babies when their parents cannot care for them.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A bell rings. Pastor Lee Jong-rak hears it. He quickly stands up. He knows that the bell has a special meaning. It means something important has arrived. Jong-rak runs to a small door in his home. This door leads to a special box that Jong-rak built. The box is warm and contains blankets. Someone has opened the box from the outside and left something. Jong-rak opens the box and finds a baby girl in it. He takes the baby into his arms. He kisses the baby and prays for her.

Voice 2 

This is the beginning of a short, news film called “Baby Box”. It tells the story of Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his work. In the film, Jong-rak reads a note left by the baby’s mother. It says,

Voice 3 

"I am in year 12 of school. I have made a simple mistake that I cannot manage or take care of. I know leaving my baby in this baby box is wrong. I will carry this feeling of guilt for the rest of my life. I am sorry. I am so very sorry."

Voice 2 

Today's Spotlight is on Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his baby box.

Voice 1 

Around the world, parents abandon thousands of newborn babies each year. That is, they leave their babies in a public place. Sometimes other people find the babies and care for them. But many times, the abandoned babies die. Pastor Jong-rak is a Christian minister from, Seoul, South Korea. And he wanted to do something about the babies that were left to die in his city. So he built the baby box - to provide a safe place for mother’s to leave babies they cannot care for.

Voice 2

Jong-rak’s baby box idea may seem unusual. But it is not. Over the past 10 years, people have built an increasing number of baby boxes around the world. Across Europe, there are almost 100 baby boxes. There are also baby boxes in India, China, the Philippines, South Africa, Japan, Canada, and Malaysia. In Pakistan alone, there are 300!

Voice 1 

Baby boxes provide a place for mothers to leave their babies instead of abandoning them. Often, religious organizations or hospitals manage baby boxes. Many baby boxes include information for the mother - including legal information about how long a mother has to change her mind and come back for her baby. Some baby boxes encourage the mother to leave her personal information. That way, when the baby grows up, he can have a chance to know his parents.

Voice 2 

Pastor Lee Jong-rak built his baby box a few years ago. But, his desire to care for abandoned babies began more than 25 years ago. It began when his son was born. Jong-rak’s son was born with a disability. He had Cerebral Palsy, a disorder caused by damage to his brain before birth­. Doctors told Jong-rak and his wife that their son would not live long. But when they looked at their son, they loved him and wanted him to live. As Jong-rak cared for his son, he began to understand that all human life is special. He began to understand that God had a plan and purpose for every life. So, he made a promise to God. He promised that he would take care of life that was not wanted.

Voice 1 

At first, Jong-rak's box received a few babies every month. Jong-rak and his wife cared for many of the children. And if there were too many, he would place some of them for adoption. Other parents would legally accept the babies into their family and take care of them.

Voice 2 

But in 2012, the number of babies left in Jong-rak’s baby box quickly increased. The reason was because the South Korean government changed its national adoption laws. The government wanted to prevent stolen babies from being placed for adoption. So, they required parents to legally report babies that they did not want to keep.

Voice 1 

This law makes it difficult for mothers who want to place their babies for adoption without anyone knowing about it. The act of legally reporting an unwanted baby can be very shameful, especially for mothers who are not married. Many of these mothers would have placed their babies for adoption before the new law. But now, they feel that safely abandoning them is their only choice. Jong-rak told the Reuters news organization,

Voice 4 

"If you look at the letters that the mothers leave with their babies, they say they have nowhere to go because of the new law."

Voice 2 

Today, Jong-rak receives up to 18 babies every month. And because they do not have legal parent records, these babies cannot be adopted. The South Korean government believes that Jong-rak’s baby box encourages child abandonment and makes the adoption process more difficult. They have told Jong-rak that he must close his baby box. But he has refused. He says that HE will bring the babies to the government in order to keep records of the babies. But he will not stop receiving abandoned babies. He told the filmmakers:

Voice 4 

"If people say the baby box is illegal, then we can make it legal. There is nothing illegal about saving a baby's life."

Voice 1 

Like the South Korean government, the UN also does not agree with the idea of baby boxes. The UN Committee for the Rights of the Child has called for an end to baby boxes. They say that children have a right to know who their parents are, and that baby boxes violate this right. The UN also agrees that baby boxes encourage child abandonment.

Voice 2 

But Jong-rak believes that the mothers who use his baby box feel like they have no other choice. Often, mothers leave babies in Jong-rak’s baby box immediately after birth. The babies have not received medical care. And often they do not even have clothes. Jong-rak told the filmmakers:

Voice 4 

"These babies come from dangerous situations. Without the baby box, these babies would die."

Voice 1 

Jong-rak’s promise to care for unwanted life is based on his belief that God has created all human life. In the book of Psalms, in the Bible, it says, "God, you are the one who put me together in my mother's body. I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is amazing!"

Voice 2 

Jong-rak’s desire to care for human life is good. But, is his baby box a solution or a problem? Does it save lives? Or does it encourage child abandonment? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on the script page for this program.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “The Baby Box."

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Do you think baby boxes are a good solution to the problem of child abandonment? Do you agree that children have the right to know their biological (or birth) families?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
tanphamvn
said on May 07, 2014

According to me, when people love and have sex, they don’t think that they will put their baby in The Baby Box. So, The Baby Box maybe the last choice of them.

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Dela
said on May 07, 2014

All baby boxes are the best solution mainly for the young mothers who have got at the bad life situation. This solving is much better than leaving a new-born child somewhere in different places without helping because in that case a child would die probably. Is there also a possibility the mother can return to her child and assume the care for him herself. In my country the baby boxes are being built near some the hospitals and many new-born children were rescued from death in this way. I think the baby boxes are certainly the good devices because if a mother takes decision to abandon her child she will do it anyway.
Thanks for excellent topic!

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rosablanca
said on May 07, 2014

I think that The Baby Box is a good alternative for young that dónt know yet, how to maintain baby when this is borning… Young mothers of few age can be helped for this Baby Boxes.

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Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 28, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Friday 28, October 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear liz Waid, Jen Hawkins, Ryan Geertsma, and Mark Drenth:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!

No, I do not think. Because the problem of child abandonment will continue and increase at many countries like here in Brazil, for example.
But baby boxes is an excellent idea to help these innocents and poor children who have been abandoned by their true parents (father and mothers).
Yes, I do.  They have the right to know their biological families.
However, that is an important decision in which the parents who adopted the child or children from the baby box have to solve.
Besides, I am an ordinary person. I am not a judge to decide the laws and I want not to judge the mothers and fathers’ reasons why they have been abandoning their babies.
Therefore, the new parents’ babies who adopted a child or more than one child from the baby boxes have the right to decide that important decision.  And they know what is the best to their babies.
Finally, I think that,  those new parents who adopted a child or children, they are the true parents to that poor child or those children.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil

Avatar Spotlight
Continue
said on October 28, 2016

No one want to abandon their baby. They only leave their baby when they can’t care for them or for some reason, so I think Baby Box is a good solution for that people and good place for unlucky Baby.

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MiCa Tran
said on October 29, 2016

Firstly. I want to thank your interesting topic.
I think the baby box is a good solutions to save human life. Nothing is illegal if we save the human life instead of leaving them. Around the world, there are a lot of place where parents or mothers who did not get married left their babies in the public places. In my hometown, there are a lot of situations that young mothers left their newborn babies in a pagoda. if it is illegal, it means that pagoda will be illegal. However, governments encourage that pagodas adopting the babies and care for. Almost people in my hometown think that saving a human life as building seven pagodas. The people say “baby box is illegal” and if you see a baby abandoned in the public place, what will you need to do? Saving the baby or leaving the baby there. I think almost people will adopt the baby. And i don’t think we are illegal about the human right, because we will note the babies’s personal information from their mother,  the date when adopted babies and some the characteristics of the babies such as clothes. When the mother change your mind, they can come to the place where they left their babies to care them or when the babies grow up, they have a chance to find their parents. This is allowed in my hometown. I don’t know how about in the world. I only provide an additional evidence where baby box is legal. I hope, the people in another country will do the same as my hometown and save the human life as more as possible.
Best regards,
MiCa Tran.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on October 29, 2016

I think that baby boxes is a reality and the problem that exists all over the world, especially in open and poor societies. And that this problem will remain indefinitely.
Yes, it is the child’s right to know biological family if he wanted to.
I apologize for the stop participating because there a big problem in the Internet in Ethiopia, where it is cut completely on Mobile and a very weak in coffee net.
God bless you

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HungP
said on October 29, 2016

I think Baby Box is a good way to save children.

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Maria Alejandra García
said on October 29, 2016

Good morning
About the topic, I think the baby boxes are a good alternative for those parents who really couldn’t take care of their children. In my country there is so many babies abandoned in public places even in garbage cans where the babies dies or get very sick, it will be good if we could have alternatives like this.
I am agree that the children had the right to know who their parents are but I don’t think that this idea encourage child abandonment because even this baby boxes were not exist the parents still have abandoned their kids if they really could not take care of them, also I think that the idea of parents can receive information and can leave their personal information for their children could know about their biological parents. The most important children’s rights are have a life, a family, a healthy childhood.