Shelters refuse 'party babies'
Johannesburg - If you are a young mother planning to drop your little one at a shelter while you go off partying this festive season, think again.
Centres caring for abandoned babies in the country’s three major cities are tired of playing nanny to babies whose mothers plan to give up their parenting responsibilities during the December holidays.
The Door of Hope – a haven for desperate mothers – based in Berea, Johannesburg, issued a stern warning that all children who are left with them during this time will be put up for adoption.
The centre manager, Francina Mphago, said: “We are here to help desperate mothers who do not want to be parents or cannot take care of their babies. [We do not help] people who just want to have fun for a certain period without worrying about a child at home.
“Any mother who brings her child to us now, hoping to come back in February to claim her baby, must know that we will put the child up for adoption.”
Door of Hope is in a position to accommodate up to 12 babies from birth to two.
The centre created a hole in the wall where desperate mothers can place their babies inside what it calls the “baby bin”. This can be done at any time of day without them being questioned.
As soon as a baby is placed inside the “bin”, which has a cushion and a blanket inside it, an alarm is set off to alert staff in the house.
Mphago said December was the busiest month at the centre. Last year, she explained, three mothers came back to fetch their babies long after the holidays were over.
“We get a lot of babies around this time. I am not sure why, but I think mothers want to be free and enjoy themselves without the burden of looking after a baby!” she said.
Florence Dodovu, founder of Ncedolethu Educare Centre in Mfuleni township, near Blue Downs in the Western Cape, shares Mphago’s sentiments.
Speaking to City Press, she said she was bracing for an influx of abandoned babies as the year-end holidays approach.
“I have space for about 10 abandoned babies in my house but in December, I get more than 40 babies. As a result I now work with other foster mothers who help by taking in some of the babies,” she said.
“What makes me angry is that young mothers, especially teenagers, abandon babies so that they are free to party all night long. They know very well that their babies will be taken to shelters where they’re cared for.
“I have no problem looking after children because I love kids, but I don’t like what these teenagers are doing.
Why have a baby in the first place if you know that you can’t handle parenting responsibilities?”
Ikhaya Likababa, a home for orphaned and abandoned babies in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, said it also experiences an influx of babies in December. But co-ordinator Wendy Oxley said it was rare for a mother only to come back in January to fetch her child.
“Most mothers who bring kids to us in December are teenagers who I suspect don’t want the burden of looking after a baby when the schools re-open.
“But it is possible that they also want to enjoy the season’s festivities, which is why we get more babies around this time,” said Oxley.