Tuesday, December 2, 2008
7 News Features: Abandoned at Birth
All too often we hear stories of babies abandoned and left to die. What we rarely, if ever, get to hear are stories from those who survive and live to tell about it as adults. Tonight, Patrick Fraser speaks with one young woman's journey, and how many in the community are working to make sure no more newborns are Abandoned at Birth.
WSVN -- In a world filled with stunning news stories, this one still makes no sense.
Lynn Martinez, Seven News: "An incredible discovery in a dumpster, a newborn baby, umbilical chord still attached to him."
It's hard to understand how a mother could toss a beautiful newborn baby into the trash.
Seven News reporter: "And look how he spent the first moments of his life, buried under garbage, left for dead."
This baby boy dumped in Kendall in September survived. So did the baby girl pictured in this 1987 newspaper clipping.
Now meet Alison, 21 years later.
Alison Dolan: "When people ask me where I was born, I say the Bronx, but I don't have a hospital or a cozy little house to say the exact address of. All I can say is that I was born in an alley, in the trash, basically of New York City."
Alison Dolan wasn't coddled and caressed during her first few hours of life. Instead she was dumped to die.
Alison Dolan: "I was in a Budweiser box, six pack, so you can imagine how small that was."
On that freezing February day, two teenagers walking to school heard her little cries from the alley and came to see what it was.
Alison Dolan: "They said I had hypothermia when I was found, but when I was taken to the hospital, they put me in an incubator, and they stabilized my condition, and I'm here now."
Alive and well but left to spend her life wondering why.
Alison Dolan: "I think it's really wanting to know the question of why, why did this person leave me. Give me some sort of answer regardless of what it is."
Alison will probably never find out why as a newborn she was tossed out. Nick Silverio wants to make sure it never happens to another newborn.
Nick Silverio: "Quite often they are all alone, they have no one to turn to."
Silverio is the founder of "A Safe Haven for Newborns," making sure people in Florida know you can legally drop-off a baby, seven days old or younger at a fire station or hospital, then walk away with no questions asked.
Nick Silverio: "When we created the organization, we made it a point that if we saved only one life, all of our efforts would be worthwhile."
Then their efforts have been worthwhile. Since the safe haven law was enacted in Florida eight years ago, 119 infants have been dropped off. One hundred and nineteen infants given the chance to grow up healthy, happy, with loving families. Instead of being dumped in the trash and left to die.
Captain Tammy Longo: "It's a shock. At first, it's like, oh my gosh, this is a little, tiny baby."
Tammy Longo has seen two newborns dropped off at her fire station in Lauderhill. Amazing for the firefighters and proof the word has gotten out.
Sheriff Al Lamberti: "All of our fire rescue vehicles have the sticker that's on the trucks, we display that to the public, also on the fire rescue stations, there are signs designated as a safe haven for infants."
Today all 50 states have a safe haven law. But Nebraska, the last state to enact it has had to tweak it. The cornhusker state allowed the drop off of any child, regardless of age, and parents started leaving unwanted teenagers behind.
State Senator Arnie Stuthman, Nebraska: "I had never dreamed that this safe haven law would turn into something like this."
Legislators have now changed the law so only babies under 30 days old can be dropped off.
Alison Dolan: "I think the safe haven laws are absolutely crucial."
Alison was lucky. She was saved and adopted by a loving family after beginning her life in a freezing cold alley.
Alison Dolan: "The way I like to think about it, it was for the best because I wouldn't be where I am today if I wasn't adopted."
Happy and healthy on this day, after being abandoned at birth, on her first day.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
A Safe Haven For Newborns
The Gloria M. Silverio Foundation