"Angel Cradles" have opened at two Edmonton hospitals, where a baby can be dropped off with no questions asked. Hospital officials say it's an option for people in moments of desperation, with the hope of averting tragedy.
A door in the wall opens to a cupboard-like space, just big enough for a tiny baby.Inside there's a plastic bassinet containing a hand-knit blanket, a brown teddy bear and an information card."Your baby will be safe and you will be safe," it reads.The site is one of two that opened Monday at hospitals in Edmonton where overwhelmed parents can abandon their newborn babies — no questions asked.Health officials believe the only other program of its kind in Canada is at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. That site has received one child since it opened three years ago.Family doctor Irene Colliton helped open one of the Angel Cradles at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in southeast Edmonton. The other is on the west side of the city at the Misericordia hospital.Colliton often delivers babies and understands what a tumultuous and sometimes catastrophic event it can be for new parents. And although there are social agencies that offer help, Colliton said safe haven drop-off sites should be available as a last resort."This is a safety net," she said. "If it's only used once — or it's used never — then we will have done a good thing."Gordon Self, a vice-president with Covenant Health, the Catholic health-care group that operates the two Edmonton hospitals, said the Angel Cradles project began a few years ago.He wasn't sure there was a need for the sites, but then learned from hospital staff that they had admitted female patients who had obviously gone through childbirth but had no babies with them.There have also been criminal cases across the country involving young moms who hide their pregnancies or are surprised by childbirth, then discard their newborns.