Hope’s Cradle infant surrender site being built in Bowmanville – a first for Ontario

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Published May 24, 2023 at 1:34 pm

The opening of the first Hope's Cradle in Strathmore, Alberta

Parents who cannot provide for their newborns will be able to safely and anonymously leave their baby at a Bowmanville fire station, Ontario’s first Hope’s Cradle infant surrender site.

Construction is underway at Clarington Fire Hall 1 on Hwy 2 and the Hope’s Cradle safe surrender initiative will be operational by the fall.

Clarington Council endorsed the installation of the Hope’s Cradle surrender site at a Joint Committee meeting September 12.

“A resident proposed this idea, and Council listened. This is a great initiative that could save lives. Maybe it’s never used, but it’s a much bigger problem if it was ever needed and wasn’t there,” said Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster.

Hope’s Cradle is a collaborative initiative — founded and being scaled nationwide by Calgary-based registered charity Gems for Gems — to protect infants from unsafe abandonment. The cradle provides for the safe and anonymous surrender of a baby.

A parent or guardian can come to an unmonitored fire station entrance. Inside the door, they will find a bassinet for the surrendered baby and an information package containing a medical form for the baby’s history and an addressed prepaid envelope.

The parent will also receive information about the local support available to them, how the process works, and their rights should they change their mind. Once they leave the child and close the door, it will not reopen.

Firefighters will get an alert that a baby has been placed in the cradle and go to pick the infant up. Paramedics will be called to do a health evaluation of the child. Any guardian who surrenders an infant will be kept anonymous, provided the infant shows no signs of abuse. Then Durham Children’s Aid Society will be contacted to collect the infant and place it in care.

“A parent may be unsafe or too ashamed to go through the usual process of putting their child up for adoption. This initiative offers a safe alternative for vulnerable parents across Durham Region and the Greater Toronto Area who feel they have no choice but to abandon their infant,” said Clarington Fire Chief David Speed.

Interior view

The project was first launched in Alberta through a partnership between Gems for Gems, an organization committed to ending the cycle of domestic abuse by focusing on
survivors’ economic recovery and empowerment, and the Strathmore Fire Department.

With babies being abanoned in alleyways and left in car trunks and even garbage bins, the basic purpose of Hope’s Cradle is to save the lives of infants who may otherwise have been unsafely abandoned, according to Gems for Gems.

Clarington will be the first Hope’s Cradle site in Ontario but other municipalities have also signed on to the initiative.

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