First-ever infant safe-surrender box opens in Calgary

Calgary’s first-ever safe-surrender box opened Monday outside of the Children’s Cottage in the northwest community of Montgomery. As Jillian Code reports, the goal is to provide a safe spot for both the parents and the children surrendered.

Seven years after a heartbreaking child abandonment case in Bowness, Calgary is finally welcoming it’s first safe surrender site for babies.

On Monday morning, two organizations — Gems for Gems and Hope’s Cradle — will be revealing the city’s brand new infant surrender box.

It will provide a safe, heated location for new parents to anonymously leave their biological child.

The box is being placed in the community of Montgomery, not far from Bowness, where a newborn baby was found dead in a dumpster on Boxing Day in 2017.

Jordan Guildford, founder of Gems for Gems, says there are many reasons why someone might not be able to care for their child, so sites like this are extremely imporant to have.

“There’s also a lot of villainization of these women who are choosing this option and that’s very much the opposite to how we feel — not just Gems for Gems but also the Children’s Cottage and their entire team — about the women who are choosing this very brave and heartbreaking option,” she said.

“What I would really love the community to understand is we cannot possibly understand what that woman is going through, and instead of judging let’s just be there and be grateful she’s choosing this option rather than the other anonymous options, which are all unsafe.”

The box will include a bassinet, and a variety of information on physical and mental supports for biological parents.

Jordan Guildford, founder of Gems for Gems, opens Calgary's first safe surrender box on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jillian Code, CityNews image)
Jordan Guildford, founder of Gems for Gems, opens Calgary’s first safe surrender box on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jillian Code, CityNews image)

Once opened, it will sound an alarm and prompt Hope’s Cradle medical staff, who will respond within minutes.

It also includes a piece of paper for parents to write a letter to their child.

Guilford says this is extremely important, as research has found children of closed adoptions often have many unanswered questions about their identity when they grow up.

“This was really informed by one of our psychologists that works with us. Oftentimes, in closed adoptions, we see an identity crisis happening later down the line with the children who don’t know where they came from and who their parents, any of their lineage,” she explained. “So, we really wanted to do our best to address that.”

She also adds any city as big as Calgary should have several infant surrender sites, and she’s hoping to eventually bring one to every quadrant.

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